You’d think it’d be pretty easy to put together a list of the top moments from the bygone season. After all, a campaign during which the Cubs put up 97 wins and reached the NLCS on the strength of Cy Young and the Rookie and Manager of the Year is bound to produce a high point or fifty. But as I sat here trying to channel my reminiscence, I found myself engaged in veritable Whack-A-Mole of anamnesis.
No sooner had my sluggish synaptic firings pushed a memory mole to the surface than I’d swing, only to see it disappear. Worse yet, there were times when individual moments rose to the surface of my consciousness en masse, taunting me with their multitude. How to choose? You see, I’m sort of a feelsy guy, particularly when it comes to Cubs baseball. Some people can spout stats and place their thoughts in tidy little files, but my recollections tend to be a bit more careworn and haphazard. As such, trying to cull a few shareable moments from the mire was not as simple a task as it probably should have been.
As you might imagine, I eventually overcame my own inherent deficiencies and cobbled together a good number of games/events. Because I tend to get a little rambly, I tried to pare the list down to a few that had more personal meaning to me.
Inoperable bathrooms, boarded-up construction zones, peeing in cups, and a Cubs loss. How could that not be a great memory? Well, it helped that I wasn’t there battling that mess. Had I been in attendance, I’m sure my mild agoraphobia — or is it enochlophobia? — would have kicked up and prevented me from any semblance of enjoyment. Alright, fine, it’s actually just straight-up misanthropy, but I still would have been on high alert.
Instead, I was holed up at Scotty’s Brewhouse with my family and a bunch of people I’d never actually met in person before. While that might sound a bit hypocritical, it was actually pretty cool. I had set up a little watch party and our relatively small group was able to watch the game in a separate room and just talk about the Cubs and what we hoped might be a decent season. In spite of the game’s outcome, I’m left with a memory of hope and excitement unlike anything we’d had in the handful of previous years.
Randomly meeting Mike Olt at a bar in Mesa
Yeah, I’ve talked about this before. I’ll probably talk about it again. But the sheer coincidental awesomeness of heading into a bar to watch the Cubs and running into a guy whose ballyhooed replacement was taking an at-bat on the screen before you is something I’ll not soon forget.
Kris Bryant’s big game on July 4th
Though it’s been nearly 25 years since Stacey Carosi opined that “the 4th of July means a time of togetherness. A time of family, friends, fun and fireworks…” I found her words ringing in my ears as the Cubs donned star-spangled uniforms to battle the Marlins. Four generations of my family were gathered at my parents house and we watched Kris Bryant announce his presence with authority. That is, if you consider 2 home runs and 6 RBI to be an authoritative announcement.
The only downside: I was playing my brother in fantasy baseball that week and Bryant was on his roster. Oh well, some things are worth taking a beating for.
The huge beatdown in Cleveland
When it comes to beatings, few can be considered worse than the 17-0 behind-the-woodshed whuppin’ the Cubs laid on the Indians on June 17th. I had made plans to attend the game several weeks before and was really jazzed (yeah, I said jazzed; what of it?) to see Kyle Schwarber live and in person. He didn’t disappoint, hitting a triple in his first AB and ending the night 4-5. It was one of those game in which everything went right for the Cubs and wrong for the Tribe.
By the time the late innings rolled around, I had a goofy Cheshire-cat grin on my face and could do little but laugh at the misfortunes of the home team. Mind you, this was also the day after the Cavs had just ceded the NBA Finals to the Warriors right across the street. Throw in a Nelly/NKOTB concert taking place the night of the game and you had a recipe for all kinds of absurdity. Just an incredibly fun time.
Bryant’s walk-off homer and Strop’s bounding celebration
Oh, but Cleveland wasn’t done helping the Cubs put up signature moments. A little over two months after the game above, the Indians came to Wrigley to make up a game that had been postponed by rain. The rescheduled gameday was clear and bright, but Kris Bryant must have been feeling as though a bit of poetic justice was in order because he brought a little rain of his own.
A walk-off win is always awesome, but this one just felt bigger. We don’t usually understand the magnitude of a given moment until much later, but I don’t think I was alone in sensing the gravity of that game and that celebration. Pedro Strop certainly felt the pull, running in from the ‘pen with that exaggerated stride to join the waiting fray at the plate. The scene was immortalized on the cover of SI and seemed to illustrate the Cubs’ newfound legitimacy.
Jake Arrieta’s no-no
Is there anything more legitimate that closing out a rough stretch with a dominant performance on national television? I suppose there could be, but when it comes to signature moments, I’m hard-pressed to find a bigger John Hancock than Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter on August 30th in LA. The game had a good bit of buzz to begin with because Jess Medoza had taken over for the deposed Curt Schilling, marking the first time a woman had been in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball.
Her excellent delivery quickly set viewers at ease just as Arrieta’s excellent delivery kept them on the edges of their seats. In a Cy Young race that came down to the Cubs ace and the Dodger duo of Claton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, I think that performance in Chavez Ravine bore as much significance as the individual numbers. It also showed Cubs fans that Arrieta was indeed a stopper of the highest order, a guy they could count on to get the job done when no one else could.
The Sept 25th loss to the Pirates
Wait…a loss as a great moment? Well, I did say that this was about experiences that were important to me personally and as I walked around Wrigleyville in the hours leading up to the game I got a firsthand sense of just how different the 2015 season was. The Cubs fell short after mounting a brief comeback, but the electricity generated by the fan-fueled turbine as the late innings spun out was enough to fuel all kinds of bright lights and distracting rock music from that new-fangled video board in left.
Every visit to Wrigley is a good one, but I’d be lying if I said they’d all borne the same kind of satisfaction as this one. The Cubs were a really good team and we all knew it and there was a sense that this was just the beginning. It helped that I was with a really good group of friends too. Oh, being in the Assurance Club didn’t hurt either.
You might be wondering why I didn’t list anything from the playoffs, and, if I’m being totally honest with you, I’m not really sure. I think it’s because the fact that they were more national in scope meant that I had to share them with even more people. Not that that’s a bad thing at all, far from it. Just that for the the purposes of this specific post, the wins over Pittsburgh and St. Louis didn’t really make the cut. That doesn’t mean we have to set them aside altogether though.
You see, there’s an area down below this for you to share your own thoughts. Our site doesn’t have the bustling community feel boasted by Bleacher Nation or Cubs Den, but this is a time when I’m going to outright solicit your input. After such a tremendous season, there were certainly countless other big moments I left out. As such, I want you to share yours. Maybe there’s a single game or maybe you have a thousand words to get out. Whatever works.