There is no feeling as a sports fan better than seeing your team win. That much is obvious for anyone who has a certain team (or athlete) they support. However, removing the attachments and biases that come into play when your favorite team is involved, there may be no better feeling as a sports fan watching something truly historic, amazing, invigorating that doesn't involve one of your teams. Nothing encapsulated this more than Game 7 between the Cubs and Indians.
You could not write a better game than that one. From the entrance perspective of two franchises that have gone so long without tasting glory. To the karmic endurance of the Cleveland baseball team trying to avoid the fate that the Cleveland basketball team put on another - losing a 3-1 series lead. And then, when the first pitch was thrown, and the event was stripped of these labels and meanings until the last out was made, it became even better.
You had unhittable relievers being hit. You had incredible drama of Jon Lester pitching in a Madison Bumgarner role, of the Cubs 'weaker' hitters like Addison Russell and David Ross hitting home runs. You had a never-die Cleveland team making a three-run comeback in the 8th with a pinch-hitter with a sub-200 batting average in the playoffs doubling of Aroldis Chapman and a man with 10 home runs all season in Rajai Davis homering to tie it.
Then you had the rain delay, the Gods knowing they had to twist the fates one last time. The specter of the darkened night sky was made worse with the bright doppler radar showing an impending storm. The game needed to finish. And it did, just in time for more heroes to be made, like Ben Zobrist, a career 'professional baseball player' hitting an opposite-field slap double in the most professional of ways, and then one last charge by the Indians ending with a Golden At-Bat - a rare moment where during an at-bat both teams could win the world series with each pitch. A home run would win it for the Indians. An out would win it for the Cubs.
They got the out, we got the outcome most wanted. I got to experience, along with millions (40 million to be exact - 10 more than Cavs-Warriors... baseball is NOT dying!) on TV, thousands on twitter. The fact that I was doing this in my hostel's bar in Cusco, Peru, getting drunk of a combination of the elevation, the pisco sours and Cusquena beers, and that living tonic that is baseball made it all the better.
I wanted the Indians to win, mainly because I haven't exhausted my resentment of the Cubs as an old NL Central rival of my Astros. That said, I have no real hatred for them. When the Astros were in the NL Central, their peaks did not align, the Astros were great from 2004-2006, and when the Cubs won the division in 2007-08, the Astros were beginning their decline. The Cubs were never the biggest rival, the Cardinals were - they were everyone's biggest rival in the NL Central. That said, I grew tired of people comparing the Cubs plight to the Red Sox, who got far closer far more often, and undercovering the Indian's own run at ending a long draught. Still, I could look past this to imbibe everything that was ocurring on that grand stage of the baseball diamond.
Few games have ever been as entertaining and mesmerizing. The immediate one that came to mind was the only baseball game with nearly as much as stake that could compare, the Cardinals ridiculous 11-10 win in 11 innings in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, twice coming within a strike of losing to pull off the win when David Freese hit a home run deep into the night sky of St. Louis.
There are a few other events in other sports where I could detach a rooting interest and just enjoy the contest, the drama, the performances. There was the 2007 NFC Championship Game between the Giants and Packers played brilliantly on a most frozen of tundra's in Lambeau. Or the 2013 NFC Championship Game in Seattle when the Seahawks muscled their way past the 49ers. There was even this year's March Madness Final between Villanova and UNC. Still, nothing may compare to this.
A great baseball game is different, in an almost indescribable way. The tension building between each pitch. The wild variation of the game within seconds of each pitch or hit. The cold October night's that are so inescapable in the baseball playoffs. The history that attaches itself to each game, each series, each team. Baseball is one of the best sports because of this poetic quality that rides through each season. When you add in the most poetic, and certainly most tragic, franchise left in the sport, an equally worthy foe, and sprinkle in some elements, you get a perfect cocktail. In Peru, the Pisco Sour is great, but still nothing compared to great baseball.