Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready—read on my friends.
This week on the couch was one of contrasts. Monday night we watched the 1-6 Bears win their second game by humiliating the Vikings, now 5-2 after a 5-0 start. The game was not really all that exciting, but compared to the one a week earlier, seeing some TDs instead of just FGs was kind of refreshing.
There were some big plays, but it just lacked an emotional attachment. The element of passion was just not there. The play of the Vikings was not that of a great team and the lousy Bears looked more like the better team. It will be interesting to see how the season turns out for both of them.
Then Wednesday night came along and it was time to watch World Series Game 7 between my beloved Cubs and another team deserving a championship, the Indians. In the first six games, the Indians had jumped out to a 3-1 lead in games, only to have the Cubs chip into that lead with one win at a time.
And then on Wednesday night, in a game for the ages, played before millions of viewers around the world, the epic encounter began. The Cubs jumped out in front with a leadoff homerun and had a 6-3 lead late in the game. Fate can be cruel and suddenly it was a 6-6 game. After a scoreless 9th inning, the rains came and the tarp came out. They then showed a radar screen that looked like maybe hell was boiling over. It was late and I was exhausted.
Miraculously after only about a ½ hour delay, they resumed play. The Cubs quickly scored a pair of runs and it looked like it was over. But no, the Indians came back once again and making it 8-7, when a lightly hit ground ball was hit towards 3rd baseman Kris Bryant. He scooped it up with a wide grin and with emotions already erupting threw it to 1st base to get the out and seal the win.
It was then though time stood still. When you are a baseball fan for over 60 years and have had a passionate love for a team and many of its players, it is hard to put a moment like that into proper perspective. When you are 67 years old and something like this happens it is so surreal. You find yourself looking for a logical response. Is it the passion of the moment? Is it the realization of something so special that it defies the hopelessly confused state of affairs that we find our world of reality to currently be caught up in?
Then you turn around and realize that there are people who could care less. Yes, there actually are many people in our society who have problems that are so profound that they do not have the luxury of escaping it. Following sports in general and fantasy football specifically is a privilege that many of us are blessed to have.
We need to cherish the good in our lives and accept the bad things as well. There are billions of people in the world who are dying, homeless, starving and have bad living conditions of all sorts. People are dealing with natural disasters on a regular ongoing basis. We are going through a political time in our nation where 50% back one candidate and the other 50% are behind the other. Ironically, the only common ground is that about 70% of the people believe that both of the candidates are bad choices. I never have been, nor ever will be, able to understand that something like this can ever happen.
We live and die with our fantasy football teams. We push reality aside. A championship by one of our “real teams” iis a special treat, to be thoroughly enjoyed and savored. We spend every minute we can following the ups and downs of professional and fantasy sports teams. Sometimes I wonder what an emphasis shift to solving world problems could do. But then the commercial ends and I get back to the game.
The Cubs of 2016 are not your father’s Cubbies. I used to think that the late 1960’s Cubs riding the shirttails of Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks was going to win the World Series. In 1969 a late season collapse and a streaking Mets team proved that was not too likely.
I had to expand my sports lexicon. I f$%#@^& Mets to da__ Yankees on the list. You never saw these colorful, descriptive terms on their jerseys or in print. But in Chicago, these terms were synonymous with these two hated teams from New York.
Over the last few years, we endured like a flock of sheep, as the Cubs sunk to levels that were really bad, even for them. A team of journeymen were playing and all the big contracts were left to expire. The team on the field got worse and 100 losses was the new norm. The baseball answer to Cubs salvation told us to have faith. We kept hearing about this guy and that one in the minors. We heard terms like Top 10, or even lower numbered players in Baseball America. We believed, but hey, this is the Cubs we are talking about.
This is the team where Phil Wrigley once fired a manager and replaced him with 12 buffoons that he called a “College of Coaches.” This is a team that was a Memorial Day front-runner that always collapsed during the hot summer months with all day games at home. Wrigley Field was always billed as the “friendly confines,” not anything with the word winners or championships in the description at all.
All of a sudden about two years ago, the alarm went off in the Cubs’ front office. The creation of the supposed super team was almost done. They hired Joe Maddon, brought on some key, high-priced free agents and we realized that it was time for Theo Epstein to show his hand.
In 2015, a team that looked spectacular took the field. Imagine an NFL team made up of about 50% 1st and 2nd round draft picks, with a few wily veterans added to the mix. The coach, would of course, be Bill Belichick. They fell slightly short of their goal by losing in the NLCS, but got a ton of valuable experience.
This year ended just like it was planned. On a team like this there is no best player. Just as soon as you decide on one, somebody else becomes the hero of the day. Those old days in the 1960s when the Cubs had 4-5 truly great players and a good supporting group. This team is so deep that it is almost inconceivable that they can lose.
Their lineup looks like one that in fantasy football would be impossible. 90% of the players could never be accumulated by one team at the same time. The future is bright for the Cubs right now. Let us hope that the fortunes of our country and the world can be so fantastic sometime in our lifetimes.
While winning a World Series is awesome, seeing world peace, smiling children, a healthy environment and a thriving economy are in the big scheme of things so very much more important.
Go, Cubs, Go! Peace!
When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All fantasy football questions are welcome.