The Chicago Cubs celebrate after winning the World Series on Nov. 2. | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Friday, November 4, 2016 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff || OPINION || @maywoodnews
By now, the entire world has heard about the Chicago Cubs finally breaking the curse and ending the longest championship drought in any major sport. That elusive World Series championship has finally been realized in Cubs nation! That’s the same World Series championship that the cross-town rivals White Sox claimed only a decade ago, which only reminded the Cubs of their years of futility. Yes, that championship!
Playing baseball in the Village of Maywood was a blast. I was inspired to play by watching Cubs games on WGN Channel 9. David Kingman and his towering home runs. Bruce Sutter and his split-finger fastball. Lee Smith and his 100 miles-per-hour fastball. Bill Buckner’s sleek fielding at first base. Ivan DeJesus’ cannon arm at shortstop. Heavyweight pitcher Rich Reuschel and his lollypop curve balls.
Back then, I knew those rosters wouldn’t reach the World Series, let alone make the playoffs. Of this small list of names, only Lee Smith and Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter would have significant careers. Sutter won a World Series with hated rival St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and was the only reliever to ever make the Hall of Fame without starting a major league game.
Among the next generation of players, only the 1984 Division Champs, led by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, gave fans any hope they would win a championship. Of course, the Cubs choked in the National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres, who were promptly dismissed by the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
A division title in 2003 was the Cubs’ best shot at the World Series. They had it made! Only six more outs against the young Florida Marlins. Six more outs and we were headed to the World Series! But a foul ball resulted in mayhem. Left-fielder Moises Alou’s cowardly fit towards fan Steve Bartman opened the floodgates to disaster.
The Marlins put eight on the board in that inning. The Cubs no longer put up a fight. They lost a 3-1 series lead and a shot at the World Series. It’s laughable for so-called fans to still blame Bartman for a professional team blowing a lead. I blame the baseball players and managers for choking.
So many losses, so many disappointments of years past. But, I believed that this year would be different. Ever after getting swept by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series last season, I believed this season’s Cubs were more prepared mentally. They were determined to replace that bitter taste with the taste of victory. They were hungry, they were focused, they embraced the challenge of being World Series favorites. They won the most games in the league. They never backed down, never wimped out when faced with a series deficit.
They persevered and they won!
Now that the Chicago Cubs are finally World Series champions, I still have hope that Little League baseball will return to the Village of Maywood. I understand that whatever materializes will be a smaller version of yesteryear’s little league that exists today and that it will take major efforts to get it up and going. I hope it will be a league that will allow games to be played in Maywood during the week and on weekends.
Baseball is one of the most difficult sports to play, but Maywood has loads of young, talented athletes who play the sport in other neighborhoods. Maybe, just maybe, we can break our own curse—years of going without Little League baseball in the Village of Maywood.
I believe a revitalization of Little League baseball in Maywood could springboard the next Dexter Fowler, Carl Edwards, Jr., or Wilson Contreras into Major League Baseball. Until that day happens, here’s to hoping for a Chicago Cubs repeat in 2017. VFP
Reverend Dr. Regi Ratliff is the founder and executive director of Eternal Light Community Services. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.
Contact Rev. Ratliff at (708) 813-4722 to register your child for one of our programs today.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.
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