As a society, we are very busy these days. We bounce from thing to thing — sometimes from four things to five other things. I couldn’t tell you what the cumulative impact is of all this movement, all this doing, all this information, but I can tell you this: I think it creates fewer moments where we actually feel something — when a moment makes us stop everything and pay attention to one thing at one time.
It is within those moments that sports play the most valuable role in our lives these days. Yes, sports in 2016 are tributes to excess. Yes, there are plenty of people who use sports as an over-the-top means of escape — a full-fledged retreat from a reality they either cannot handle or do not wish to address. But sports also offer wonderful, breathtaking moments that make us feel.
If you are a Cubs fan in October, you have been feeling pain mixed with trepidation for the better part of 108 years, since the last time the franchise won the World Series. You have been conditioned to believe that your franchise is cursed — a notion to me that is equal parts bad luck, circumstance and self-fulfilling prophecy.
You have risen every spring at the start of Game 1 of the season and wondered if this is the year. Sometimes it has been over quickly. Sometimes — like, say, 2003 — it has been particularly excruciating. But you have felt. And you have kept feeling.
The cumulative weight of those years, those moments, those feelings — whether you are 8 or if you are 88 — led you to Tuesday night. An amazing regular season was giving way to another white-knuckle postseason. A 2-0 series lead had been trimmed to 2-1 with a heartbreaker Monday in San Francisco, and suddenly your team was down 5-2 in the ninth and facing the prospect of an elimination game back in Chicago — where the average blood pressure in the Wrigley bleachers would have been two million over one million.
Not only that, but you were facing a Giants team with “even-year magic” on their side, having won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Plus, a Giants fan brought a goat — the symbol of the Cubs’ World Series curse — to Tuesday’s game.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m starting to believe that in order to break a “curse,” something extraordinary must happen. Maybe that’s strange considering how I feel about curses, but: the Red Sox did it by beating the rival Yankees in the 2004 ALCS after trailing 3-0 in the series. The Cavaliers did it by erasing a 3-1 series deficit against the greatest regular-season team in NBA history.
If you believe that, then Tuesday night might have been the Cubs’ moment. Those four runs they scored in the ninth to come back for a 6-5 win — knocking out the Giants, the goat and the even-year magic all with one swift rally — were a sight to behold.
That inning was the reason Cubs fans had to keep watching and keep believing. By extension, it offered another example of why Vikings fans — arguably as skittish and beleaguered as Cubs fans in just half the time — need to do so as well. Those are the moments you live for as a sports fan. Those are the moments — good or bad — you never forget.
There are no guarantees as to what the rest of the baseball playoffs or the rest of this NFL season will bring. But whether it’s pain or joy — particularly these days — you’ll know you’re alive if you’re feeling something.