Dear Indians faithful,
When I, a diehard Cubs fan, took on the Tribe as my American League team 8 years ago, I never fathomed we’d be here, on the other side of the best World Series that this country has ever seen. In fact, I told someone, “The world will end before the Cubs and Indians play in a World Series, so really I’ve done the most responsible thing I could in choosing two teams who will never face each other in a high stakes game.”
And yet here we are, and I have so many things I’m working through and trying to process. My emotions for the Indians are just some of them.
But while the last 7 games and their outcome have me completely unhinged, I know a few things with total certainty.
We’re a lot alike, Cleveland and Chicago. Our baseball teams proved that this past week – talk about two immensely talented teams! Talk about grit! Talk about fighting back when you’re down! The Cubs did it, down 3 games to 1. The Indians did it, down 4 runs in Game 7. When you look at the aggregate runs scored this series, it’s tied up at 27-all, and I think every Cubs fan is well aware that one crack of the bat means the outcome is flipped. It truly was one for the ages.
Then there are our fanbases. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Because the worst is all we’ve known for so long. And yet, every year, April rolls around and our eyes fill with hope and we know without one shred of doubt that THIS is our year, even when it isn’t. Even when it hasn’t been for decades, or centuries. These fanbases are loyal. They stand by their teams come hell or high water. We don’t run when things get hard. We don’t abandon ship in rebuilding years. We plant our feet firmly in the ground and say “This is my city, this is my team, and JUST YOU WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR.” We’ve all uttered those words, hands planted firmly on our hips in indignation. These are fan bases who thank a team who’s just broken our hearts because they took us on a fun ride up to this point. And even when our hearts are broken, the spring rains wash out the doubt, and we return with a hope renewed, our faith as fresh as the new paint adorning the outfield grass.
And then there are our cities as a whole – rust belt beauties, built on the backs of those who came before us. They are cities that know what it means to work hard, cities that share the same values, cities that live with the same self-deprecating humor, coupled with our always immense and unmatchable pride. Our cities are like our families – we can talk a lot of shit about them, but the second an outsider does, someone’s getting a black eye. We also both share the misery of Lake Effect Snow, and most of America will never really understand this plight.
And given the connection I’ve always felt to the city of Cleveland, given how much I’ve always seen a little bit of Chicago reflected in the Terminal Tower lights, there are a few things I know to be true after last night’s game, things I needed to share with you after the best World Series ever:
1. Cleveland is proud – As one should be when a roster has some key players out and you STILL take the statistically best team in baseball all the way to the brink, Cleveland is BEAMING with pride. I said this about Chicago after our Game 4 loss, and I say it to you now – win or lose, you are from Cleveland. Put your hand on your heart, feel it beating in your chest, feel yourself so full you could burst with the pride you have for where you came from. Think of how it shaped you into the person you’re becoming. Embrace it all. Smile. Wear it as the badge of honor it is. I know you will – you always do.
2. Cleveland is resilient – The way you fought back in Game 7, the way you clawed through the Warriors in the NBA finals this year, the way each of you has, in some way in your personal life, pushed through the seemingly impossible? That’s the Clevelander in you. You will bounce back stronger than ever. Your time will come. Your year will be here before you know it – hell, maybe it’s even next year for real. I’ve seen your roster – you’re coming back with a vengeance. And if it’s not, you’ll hold your heads high then too, just as you’re doing now – knowing every ounce of your fight was given, knowing that this, too, shall pass. Someday, the rain will fall and the drought will end, and until then, my dear Cleveland, you’ll rise up.
3. I know some Cubs fans have been talking shit to you guys – I apologize for them. Those are NOT our diehards. Those are NOT the fans whose fathers’ fathers grew up at Wrigley. Those are the bandwagon fans. They annoy us too. They deserve a swift kick in the shins. I PROMISE you true Cubs fans look at you guys with a tip of the hat and massive amounts of respect in our hearts. We salute you for the way you played baseball. We salute you for your loyalty to this team. We salute you for sticking with the Tribe and for still rallying together 68 years later. We crack open a Bud for you. We defend you. Anyone who speaks otherwise does not speak for me and mine and can pack their bags.
4. Cleveland fans showed so much heart – LOOK AT THIS TEAM, YOU GUYS! LOOK AT HOW FAR YOU WENT. LOOK AT THE ODDS YOU OVERCAME! Those players, immense talent aside, are feeding off YOU GUYS – the fans! Your heart fueled them through a grinding postseason as much as their tremendous hard work and abilities. I salute you all, cause that makes me feel things!
5. Baseball isn’t just about the game for you. Us either. It’s about generations of families coming together around the TV to watch. It’s about stories passed down from grandparents and parents. It’s about the loved ones we’ve lost and how much they would have LOVED to see a game like last night’s. It’s about friends. It’s about memories made in and around the ballpark, memories made rallying together around the team. This is so much more than baseball. This is in our blood.
Cleveland, from a loyal Cubs fan, hat’s off to you. Thanks for making the last seven games an incredible rollercoaster of emotions and for making history with us. As Joe Maddon was quoted saying after the game, “Sometimes people forget that both sides are good.” But you know what, Cleveland? You put up the fight of your life, and there is NO denying that you, too, are good. This game will be shared with our children and their children for generations to come, and the incredible baseball played on the Cleveland side is just as much a part of the narrative. Just remember, when the fans go home and the field lights go dark, when the Chicago Cubs fans have finally stopped celebrating, you are STILL. FROM. CLEVELAND. And with that, you can rest easy, full of hometown pride, knowing that your day is coming & it will be every bit as glorious as you’ve imagined. Because no one throws a party quite like a team that finally gets some rain after a long drought (whether that’s actual rain or just a shower of champagne is irrelevant) and no one knows that better than these two fanbases.
See you next season – Game 7, our place?
Much love and respect,