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Baseball Like It Oughta Be Would Just Keep Going

June 12 to June 14, 2017, at Citi Field. September 12 to September 14, 2017, at Wrigley Field. I’ll go back to intensely disliking the Cubs then, on a need-to-spite basis. Maybe in between if our potential postseason fate seems to depend on it.

Until then, certainly for now, all hats off to the new world champions [1], same as the old world champions, and I mean really old world champions, as in an Old World that will no longer be reflexively referenced by everybody looking for a cheap laugh.

Rest easy, Teddy Roosevelt. Nobody will be writing any longer about teams that haven’t won since your administration. Bully for that. Bully for getting off the century-plus schneid. Bully for those who’ve never previously experienced the ultimate high experiencing it at last.

Bully for the world champion Chicago Cubs. Bully, too, for the National League, a circuit for which I stand tall and proud despite routinely detesting 14/15ths of its occupants as a matter of course.

Sorry, though, for the not quite world champion Cleveland Indians and their fans who, with a relative handful of elder exceptions, have never experienced the ultimate high. So close, yet so far. That proximity can’t help, yet it must be appreciated that for six games and nine-and-a-half innings, the title out of their grasp from 1949 forward was still within reach. The Tribe gave the members of their tribe a helluva ride. I hope it was enjoyed to its extreme until it could be relished no more.

And how about that baseball? Game Seven is listed until Game Six is decided fortuitously as “if necessary”. Gotta be a misnomer. Every baseball game is necessary. On Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, they were playing scintillating baseball in warm November weather in Northeast Ohio. Necessary? It should have been mandatory! Why is nobody making this an issue in the 2016 election? Why must baseball like this stop while the presidential campaign around it is allowed to continue?

Baseball and us: stronger together. I approve this message.

Cubs fans rooted for a Cubs win in Game Seven. Indians fans rooted for an Indians win in Game Seven. The rest of us, I’m pretty sure, were mostly rooting for Game Seven, both its arrival and its extension. Rajai Davis [2] homering for the second and third of three runs in the bottom of the eighth to forge a 6-6 tie was, we hoped, only the beginning. Let’s keep this going. Let’s Go Game Seven! That was our team now.

Details, details. The blur was a blessing. Take out pitchers who don’t need to go. (Bye, Kyle Hendricks [3].) Bring in pitchers who’ve already thrown enough. (Oy, Aroldis Chapman [4].) Save the whole kit not to mention caboodle. (What a play, Francisco Lindor [5]). Overmanage. OverMaddon, even. Bring out a tarp if you must, but make it snappy and roll it up just as fast. Bunt. No, actually, don’t bunt. Tag up (run, Albert Almora [6], run!). Fill the open base. (You sure about that, Tito?) Call a meeting. Say something inspirational. (You may not hit, Jason Heyward [7], but you sure can talk [8].) Send up somebody who knows how to double in World Series play. (But why must he be a certified Royal pain like Ben Zobrist [9]?)

The Cubs go up, 7-6. The Cubs go up, 8-6. The Indians get a guy on. The guy runs unaccosted to second. The guy is driven in. It’s 8-7. It’s the bottom of the tenth with two out, Davis, who is why we still have baseball, is on first and, if somehow the next guy can do something, maybe we’ll never have to leave Game Seven.

But the next guy, Michael Martinez [10], only taps a ball to Kris Bryant [11], who picks it up and fires it to Anthony Rizzo [12], and it doesn’t fly down the line or anything suitably extraordinary like that. It’s an out. It’s the third out. It’s the end of the World Series and the baseball season.

Joy for the Cubs. Oof for the Indians. Nothing left for the rest of us. Can’t wring another inning out of If Necessary. Can’t convince the Dodgers and Blue Jays to throw down for a bronze medal, though maybe if we ask nicely…

Alas, away drifts baseball from 2016, following David Ross [13]; and 108- if not 68-year droughts; and the certainty of what we shall occupy our minds with virtually every night. “The game is on,” we said for seven months, usually meaning the Mets, lately meaning the Series. We liked saying that. We can say it no more.

We’ve got no baseball left to watch, but we will find baseball to think about. Because we need to fill our own open base, we will instinctively grope about in a morass of qualifying offers [14], sad court dates [15] and, for those who are so moved, the state of knees in the Arizona Fall League [16]. Because it won’t actually be baseball, it will be baseball without being baseball like it oughta be. Baseball like it oughta be was Game Seven. And Games One through Six. And all those games that decided who’d be in the World Series, including one that involved us, though it’s hard to recall four weeks later that we were one of the first links in this most recent championship-determining chain of events. Oh, and Games 1 to 162, a Sunday night in Kansas City to a Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, which is where we scooped out that Wild little prize rattling around the bottom of this Cracker Jack box of a season. I’ve still got it around here somewhere. That, too, was baseball like it oughta be.

It was all there, just like it is every year, just like it will be again. If it’s designed to break our hearts [17], we’ll forget all that because we’ll be so happy that it mended them in the first place. Cubs fans will be back looking for more. Indians fans will be back looking for solace. We’ll all be back because, despite what the void insists between now and April 3, 2017 — Braves at Mets, first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM — it never leaves us and we never leave it.