The bats and balls have been put away, the baseball gloves and batting helmets will soon be placed in storage. Baseball season has finally ended, and the Chicago Cubs, as most Times of Israel readers are aware, are World Series champions. As my Facebook feed changes from tributes acclaiming the Cubs’ lofty achievements, to depressing accounts about Tuesday’s upcoming presidential election, I would like to relate an amusing anecdote, which I believe, illustrates much of the joy and gladness that resulted from the Cubs’ victory.
At approximately 6:47 a.m. Israel time, the final out was made in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the Cubs had won the World Series. After expressing my emotions appropriately (no, I did not cry), I realized that Shacharit services at the synagogue were about to begin. Bleary-eyed and fatigued — I had been watching since 3 a.m — I stumbled out of the house with my Cubs cap perched on my head, arriving several minutes late.
Being that it was Thursday morning, a brief section of the week’s Torah portion was read in the synagogue. As they reached the third aliyah, I was called to the Torah to recite the blessings. I realized that I was being called to the Torah as the lone Chicagoan in attendance, to honor my team’s victory. After the reading was concluded and I recited the second blessing, I was in for a bit of a surprise. To my amusement, the gabbaim and most of those in attendance began humming a happy melody, which is often sung when the aliyah recipient is observing a major life celebration, such as becoming a parent or grandparent.
Those who were aware of the reason for the singing of the tune, smiled broadly and wished me ‘Mazal Tov’ on the Cubs’ achievement, which I kindly acknowledged. However, there was a not inconsiderate number of attendees, who looked rather puzzled at the celebration. Native Israelis, who knew nothing of baseball or the World Series, they most likely assumed that I had become a grandfather again, and dutifully shook my hand, offering their congratulations. Unable to explain the meaning of baseball or the word ‘Cubs,’ I simply shook their hands and smiled.
While Americans assume that everyone knows about baseball and the Chicago Cubs, most of the world’s inhabitants have no familiarity with the sport, and are certainly not aware of the Cubs 108-year record of futility.
And yet, cheerful smiles and congratulations were shared with everyone in the minyan, even if they didn’t know the difference between a ball and a strike. Most of my neighbors, transplanted New Yorkers whose loyalties are with the Mets and Yankees, have been greeting me with smiles and ‘Mazal Tov.’ I even received a congratulatory call from a Cardinals fan. The Cubs victory has made more people smile than anything I can remember in recent memory. Even fans of the defeated Cleveland Indians have been gracious in defeat.
In these troubled times, it is indeed refreshing to have reason to smile in the morning. And while some have attributed a deeper meaning to the Cubs victory, comparing their winning of the World Series to the quest for Mideast peace, mankind’s place in the universe, and the faith of Israel, I would prefer to frame things a bit more simply.
As Chico Escuela, the mythical all-star second baseman from Saturday Night Live said, “Baseball been berry, berry good to me. Thank you. God bless you.”
This year’s baseball season was indeed very, very good to Cubs fans. ‘Nuff said.