Friday, October 21, 2016

It Starts With a Bunt

New! Audio broadcast:

Sometimes change starts with a bunt, a small thing, something within reach. Or, at least it did for the Cubs Wednesday night. Things were looking pretty bleak for the Mudville sluggers, as their bats had fallen silent since the first game of the National League Championship Series, a convincing win over the L.A. Dodgers, highlighted by a base-clearing homer in the 8th inning. Clayton Kershaw took the wind out of their sails in Game 2, though the Cubs still kept it to a respectable 1-0 score for the loss. Their drought in hitting continued in Game 3, losing 6-0, and into the start of Game 4. I was starting to wonder if someone had snuck a goat into the Dodgers’ stadium. Irony of ironies, we had just finished watching “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” right before the game, and I began to wonder if it was a portent of things to come, that we might be left like Linus once again wailing, “Wait till next year!”

By the time Ben Zobrist went to the plate in the fourth inning, the Cubs had accumulated 21 scoreless innings in a row, and he knew he had to do something different. He bunted. How humble, simple, and selfless of him. No one goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame for bunting. No one gets recognized as the Best Bunter in Baseball, or given the Golden Bunt Award. Everyone focuses on the home run hitters, the Russells and the Rizzos, but I believe it was this simple bunt, this individual sacrifice, that inspired and led his teammates to connect with the ball that inning and send it sailing. Or, as Manager Joe Maddon, was quoted as saying, “It’s contagious.” 

Ben Zobrist's bunt in the 4th inning

Anthony Rizzo after hitting his home run in the top of the 5th
Sometimes when you swing for the fence, you miss everything. It’s just too much. Sometimes you have to start with something small, something manageable, something doable.
Sometimes you just have to start with a bunt.
Final Score Game 4: Cubs 10 – Dodgers 2
Final Score Game 5: Cubs 8 – Dodgers 4

Post Script

It was great watching former Red Sox players Jon Lester pitch for the Cubs in Game 5, and John Lackey in Game 4. All those stories about fried chicken in the Red Sox clubhouse have been left far behind them. Now, everyone thinks it was Theo Epstein’s genius and persuasion that brought them to Chicago, but no, there is a totally different, perfectly logical explanation.

It was the fried chicken.

If you want the best darned fried chicken anywhere, it’s just a few miles down I-55, off exit 267, at the White Fence Farm in Romeoville, Illinois. It is seriously the best fried chicken in the world, plus has the most amazing sides, such as their bean salad, and coleslaw, and my own personal favorite, the corn fritters, perfectly crispy and magically dusted with powdered sugar. Mmm-mmm. You can bet there will be some fried chicken eating in Chicago when the Cubs bring it back to Wrigley Saturday night for Game 6, up 3-2 in the Series.

It is also nice to see Pete Rose gamboling about with the other sportscasters. In a single word: Giddy. He is simply giddy just to be back around the game. It’s a little complicated, and probably a topic for another day, another blog.  

A couple of Roses, exchanging their sports books (2014)
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and took me up on my offer of a free book at last week’s Boston Book Fest. Actually, thank you to everyone who actually even made eye contact or stopped to talk to me. Boston drivers are legendary for their abilities in averting eye contact, to avoid having to let someone into their lane, but I have to tell you the skills are equally honed as pedestrians. Imagine, I’m at a book festival, a place where everyone presumably kind of likes books, and most of the passersby just passed on by.  

Up Next (in the on-deck circle):
Recap of HUBweek 2016


Harris, Beth. 2016. Borrowed bat did the trick. The Boston Globe, 21 October 2016.

© 2016 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me.