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Grip on Sports: The Cubs gave us something to see after 108 years of futility

Fans react after the Chicago Cubs won Game 7 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday in Cleveland. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)
Fans react after the Chicago Cubs won Game 7 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday in Cleveland. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We have a rule around these here parts. We don’t write about the same subject two consecutive days. Hah. We also don’t see the Cubs win the World Series all that often either. Read on.

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• When something happens every 108 years or so – heck, Halley’s Comet is more reliable than that – we figure we can break a few rules. Call them “guidelines” and move on. So we wanted to revisit that list of best Game Seven’s in our lifetime.

Our list. Our lifetime. Not our Cubs. Sorry, we didn’t jump on the bandwagon. Except we did, sort of. When we listened to the Cubs faithful sing that freaking song at Wrigley Field after the Game Five win, we got a lump in our throat. And an affinity for the Cubs’ fans. Not the Cubs themselves, mind you. But for their long-suffering fans.

They deserved to celebrate like it was 1908 once again.

Growing up, we had a book about baseball. It was a big book, the size of a magazine but 50 times as thick. Hard covered, it was filled with pictures and easy-to-read prose. In it we learned about Cap Anson and Lew Burdette, Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance and Fred Merkle’s bone-headed play. It was read a thousand times if it was read once.

The Dodgers long wait for a title was documented, as was the Red Sox’s cursed stupidity in trading Babe Ruth. The Cubs? They were mentioned only as one of the National League’s early powers and then, nothing. Players like Rogers Hornsby and Hack Wilson came up, sure, but the losing seasons were never as exciting as the Red Sox or even the Dodgers up to 1955.

The Second City had a second-rate curse.

But since those days the world has turned. The Dodgers became a power. The Red Sox lost a few more times and then finally won. And won again. And again. But the one constant has been the Cubs, Ray. The baseball world has remade itself over and over, but the Cubs remained the lovable losers.

Until last night.

They built a 5-1 lead. They blew part of it. They built a 6-3 lead. And blew all of it. They built an 8-6, 10-inning lead following a short rain delay. And blew half of it. And yet they didn’t lose. They won.

And all of Chicago – OK, the north side of Chicago – erupted. When we read on Twitter there was a naked man on the mound at Wrigley, our first thought was, “isn’t Bill Murray in Cleveland?” He was, along with a bunch of other Cub fans, old and new.

Their lifetime wait is over.

Which brings us back to here. The Northwest.

Many Northwesterners have spent their entire life rooting for the Mariners. Nigh on 40 years for some. And they have never seen them in the World Series, let alone win a title. Will it ever happen? Or will today’s 40-somethings go to their deathbed never having seen their beloved team win a World Series – as happened to many a generation of Cub fans?

No. It has to happen, right? Some day thousands of fans will gather at the corner of Edgar and Dave and wait. They will sing and chant, yell and whisper, waiting for the final out of the final game. And then they will explode. The celebration will be epic. Monumental.

And when you read about a naked man on the mound at Safeco, you know who it will be.

• Can’t let the links begin without first letting you know there is something extra-special in today’s newspaper. In print and online. It’s our yearly college basketball preview. Gonzaga, WSU, Eastern, Idaho, Whitworth and the community colleges are all covered.

The stories are linked below. Enjoy.

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• WSU: We’ll start each segment with the basketball preview stories, including Jacob Thorpe’s Cougar feature and key player. John Blanchette also has a team-by-team look at the Pac-12. … Jim Allen’s look at our area’s women’s teams begins with the Cougars. … On to football, where Jacob delves into Wednesday’s legal wrangling with the Robert Barber case as well as this week’s tempest in a Diet Coke can, Mike Leach’s comments about talent, the Cougars and Oregon State. … There is also this Op-ed piece in the S-R on Barber from a parent of a WSU football player. … Jacob also has his Pac-12 picks for the week. He’s on a roll. … Arizona isn’t. on a roll that is. The Wildcats are vowing to fight, though.

Elsewhere in Pac-12 football, the weekend kicks off tonight with Colorado hosting UCLA in game that is expected to be played in relatively mild temperatures. … Washington, feeling a bit snubbed, travels to California as a big favorite, but that’s the norm this week. …. USC is also a big favorite in the Coliseum over Oregon, which is dealing with another problem. … Stanford seems back on track and awaits a visit from Oregon State. … Arizona State and Utah have byes. … By the way there is always things to watch and power rankings to pass along.

• Gonzaga: The big story around the McCarthey Athletic Center is the number of newcomers the Zags will have. Jim Meehan examines the four transfers and the handful of freshman as well as the key player. John takes a look at the whole transfer phenomenon in college basketball, something that has benefited GU lately. … John also has an examination of the WCC and Jim Allen has a feature on Elle Tinkle.

• EWU: Eastern has a big-time transfer on its basketball roster as well, though Jake Wiley (pictured) has stayed in the Inland Northwest for his college career. Jim Allen has his story as well as the Eagles’ key player. … Jim also has his Big Sky football notebook, starting with Eastern’s ground-bound opponent this week, Cal Poly. And he will hold a live chat starting at noon. … The Eastern women won a Big Sky tournament soccer match yesterday. … Around the Big Sky in football, there will be some official unofficial FCS rankings released this week. … Montana State wants to finish the season strong.

• Idaho: The Vandals, picked second in the Big Sky basketball race, will feature a backcourt as good as any in the conference. Josh Wright features the pair as well as highlight their key player.

• Whitworth: The Pirate men are expected to be one of the nation’s best again while the women are rebuilding with a youthful roster. Tom Clouse covers both in this story. … Whitworth's men traveled to Missoula and lost 90-80 in an exhibition game.

• Community colleges: The NIC men’s basketball program suffered a huge blow earlier this year when two of its coaches were injured in a car crash, one seriously. Josh Horton has an update on their condition and a preview of the upcoming season for the men and women at NIC and CCS.

• Chiefs: Everett is hot, having won four consecutive games.

• Preps: It’s that time of year. Fall. No, what I mean is, it is fall playoff time. Football is full swing and Greg Lee has a preview – as well as an update on his Pick 6 battle with Sam Adams. … There is also Greg's state cross country preview in Washington and the state’s football poll. … Finally, we can pass along a roundup of Wednesday’s action.

• Seahawks: Cliff Avril has always had a big role with the Hawks' defense. It’s about to get bigger. … Honestly, are the Hawks really penalized more than their opponents? … The NFL’s rating decline is not dependent on one thing. It’s a whole bunch of crud. … Seattle’s schedule has been relatively easy thus far.

• Mariners: Now the offseason begins. The M’s will lose at least six free agents. They will keep Seth Smith. And they made a bunch of minor roster moves yesterday.

• Sounders: Seattle made it official last night. The interim tag is off Brian Schmetzer. He’s now just the coach. … Real Salt Lake is doing a real re-examination.

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• I wonder if the main entree tonight in the neighborhoods around the cozy confines of Wrigley will be roast goat. If people actually eat goat anymore. … We know there are Cubs fans everywhere. Tom Clouse documents a local man who has followed them for years. Until later …

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