And the Children Shall Lead: Kris Bryant, Addison Russell Key Cubs Walk-Off

I had already experienced one walk-off on the evening before flipping the Cubs game on, so I wasn’t holding out much hope for a second. Yes, my Ice Cold Pitchers had come back from an 11-8 deficit to win 12-11 over Scared Hitless in a highly improbably manner. You think I’ve got bad puns? Check out your nearest beer league softball park and stand in awe of the hackneyed wordplay.

In any case, I was a little mentally drained, not from the result of the game so much as from being responsible for a puddle of blood on the field and a puddle of woman being hauled off in a cart. Nothing nefarious, just the result of a throw in to the pitcher and a second baseman who had failed to get out of the line of fire.

Still, I knew the moment the ball left my fingers that it had bad intentions and the potential for damage scared the hell of of me as I watch the play unfold frame-by-frame right in front of me. I had time to imagine myself as Mr. Fantastic, stretching to pull the throw back in time. But alas, I’ve never been bombarded by cosmic radiation, so I had to stand there helplessly.

When I saw her move her glove up defensively, I had hope that we might all walk away unscathed. The reaction, however, may have actually served to make matters worse, deflecting the yellow sphere straight into her eyebrow. She seemed fine at first, waving people off with “I’m okay, I’m okay.” But then the blood started and she was donezo.

I know it wasn’t my fault, so to speak, and everyone out there agreed, but it still just felt awful at the time. But we regrouped and won and I was feeling better by the time I got home and settled in.

Then the Cubs game took on that same weird feeling that I’d experienced during softball earlier. Bryce Harper was mad about hitting a home run and the Cubs were holding a strong team to 4 runs in 18 innings but still felt as though they were doing something wrong. Until, that is, the kids stepped up.

There were no Gorgan sightings, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that these aren’t just ordinary prospects driving the Cubs. It was like a game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better as Harper lofted a homer, only to be bested by Brant’s blast and then Addison Russell’s walk-off hit.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say these young Cubs actually relish the thought of pressure and having the game on the line with a bat in their hands. It’s a theme I’ve been regurgitating and feeding to you, my faithful readers, like a mama bird to her little chicks, but this team just seems to know how to win. They’re really fun to watch too.

I mean, of course, walk-offs are fun no matter what, but I don’t feel the same inordinate degree of anxiety when watching the Cubs this season. That doesn’t come from some detached sense of malaise born of lowered expectations, but rather it’s the product of a confidence. It’s from, dare I say, youthful exuberance.

That suffocating sense of doom that has hung over this team in the past like Schleprock’s cloud just isn’t there. And even when a front blows it a little closer, we get this…

Even the team knows it, as evidenced by the continued awesomeness of the Cubs Twitter account. For those of you still holding out on the ubiquitous social media platform, let this be a call to you to join. Other than the nights when both rasslin’ and Hawkey are going at the same time, it can be quite a bit of fun too.

I enjoy every Cubs win, but it’s just that much more special when the team’s newest rising stars are the ones leading the charge. Bryant’s monster shot and Russell’s 400th double (that’s not an official number, but I think it’s close) gave us yet another glimpse of the future, which looks a lot like winning.

It’s strange, but I don’t hear too many people still complaining about the terrible season that netted Bryant with the #2 pick or the trade of the Cubs’ “ace” that brought Russell to Chicago. I guess those folks are just too busy cheering with the rest of us.


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