As we approach the new year, we are inundated with (mostly lame) “Best of” lists. Well, friends, I’m here to bring you yet another one of those egregious lists.
Disclaimer: this is my list. These may not actually be the top, most important, best, or your favorite moments from the season, but I’ve been given this space for now, so you’ll just have to put up with my take for a moment–not sorry. Also, I’m only going to include moments from the regular season, since the postseason was amazingly glorious all by itself (except, er, for that ending). Finally, I’m not going to include anything from the offseason, so you won’t see the Joe Maddon or Jon Lester signings. So, in the immortal words of Casey Kasem, let’s start the countdown.
5. The Schwarber Game
This is the moment when we went, “oh yeah, we have that guy, too.” On July 21, just over a year after being selected with the 4th overall pick in the draft (a pick that was roundly criticized by many, include, ahem, *cough* a few commenters on this blog), in Cincinnati, in front of scores of friends and family (he grew up nearby as a Reds fan–Votto was his hero), Schwarber blasted a mammoth (come on, dude doesn’t hit any other kind) homer to tie the game in the ninth, and then another to win it in the 13th. What a night that must have been for him. He’s going to be our Jim Thome for years to come (and no, he won’t catch, at least not primarily).
4. Bryant’s Debut
No, he didn’t get a hit. Yes, he struck out 10,000 times and looked really bad, but remember, this is my list. This moment makes the cut because I was at Wrigley to witness this game, and I can tell you, it was the most electric regular-season-in-negative-million-degrees-meaningless-game I’ve ever attended. The entire crowd stood for every one of his at-bats and lived and died with every pitch. After each inevitable strikeout, the crowd moaned as if we just lost Game 7. After such an fantastically historic rookie season, it’s easy to forget just how long it took Bryant to hit his first homer (I believe it was around 700 at-bats), but the kid makes adjustments and looks like a keeper to me.
3. Bryant’s Walk-Off (well, one of them)
July 27: The Cubs had lost a zillion games in a row and everyone was depressed. We had given up a big lead to the lowly Rockies. Bryant saved the day with a rocket into the dark Lakeview night. Everyone cheered. It was awesome.
2. Sweeping the Giants
I have to admit, after we were swept by the Phillies (the Phillies), I thought that our youth and good luck from the first half (we won so many one-run games, the outcome of which can be pretty random) had finally caught up with us. You can only dodge the coin-flip and the regress-to-the-mean dragon for so long. This four-game sweep of the defending champs in early August bounced us over the Giants for the second wild card spot and announced to all that this team was for real.
1. Arrieta’s No-Hitter
I watched this on TV, but I stood and shouted and leapt with every pitch. I celebrated after the game as though I was in Wrigleyville. A signature moment for a pitcher, a team, a fan. Thanks Jake.
All of Addison Russell‘s defensive plays; Rizzo’s brilliant season being almost overlooked; magicians in the clubhouse and on the field; Bryant knocking the videoboard onto Waveland, killing thousands; Lester actually being really good–stop whining; Joe Maddon giving players reading assignments; the inspired benching then re-starting of Castro.
Thoughts? Submit your list in the comments.
I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. Happy New Year. Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure.