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Be Where The Cubs Are

Written by Mat Smart

(Please note: I’m writing this on Thursday morning, September 28th, 2023 from my car in Brooklyn during alternate side parking. For those of you who live in magical places without alternate side parking restrictions, it’s when – twice a week – the street sweeper comes by and you can’t park for 90 minutes. Thus, you sit in your car to a) not get a ticket and b) move for the sweeper when it (sometimes) comes by. I should also clarify for journalistic integrity that this is my girlfriend’s car. Well, actually, it’s my girlfriend’s dad’s car.)

It’s Thursday morning, September 28th and the Chicago Cubs suffered a heartbreaking, backbreaking, demoralizing extra-inning loss last night. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as their loss two nights ago. That one – that one was indisputably the worst loss of the season. Which is saying a lot because I was at the game in Houston earlier this year, on May 17th, when the Cubbies led the Astros 6-1 in the 8th and still managed to blow it. (I considered it a badge of honor to be present for the worst loss of the Cubs season, but now I don’t even have that. Thanks, Cubs!)

During the baseball season, Davey and I would text during or after nearly every Cubs game. I have a lot of friends who are Cubs funs, but in Davey, I found someone who took the Cubs as emotionally and irrationally and personally as I did. I met Davey through Adam Knight. I was Adam’s best friend from college. Davey was Adam’s best friend from high school. But when Davey and I realized we had the Cubs in common, it was like we had this primordial bond – something we couldn’t get from Adam – and our friendship blossomed.

I’ve been wanting to write something about Davey and me and the Cubs, but I’ve haven’t been able to until today. For the last three years, any time something happened with the Cubs, I’ve had the impulse to text Davey. In July 2021, when the Cubs traded away Anthony Rizzo, Jaiver Báez, and Kris Bryant – the cornerstones of the 2016 World Series Championship team – I openly wept. Like ugly sobbing. As invested of a fan as I am, the streaming tears and snot took me by surprise. But then I realized it was also about Davey – about saying goodbye to the players that we had so unabashedly loved together.

So back to two nights ago in Atlanta. The Cubbies led the Braves 6-0 in the 6th and were clinging to a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the 8th. With two outs, Braves catcher Sean Murphy hits a routine fly ball to right field and Seiya Suzuki – who’s been a total stud for us lately – misses it. He flat-out misses a routine fly ball. Two unearned runs score. Cubs lose.

And then last night – the Cubs blew the lead three times and lost by one run in the 10th. The Cubbies are now tied with Miami for the illustrious last NL wild card spot. The Marlins own the tiebreaker, which means that these two Cubs losses couldn’t have come at a worse time. To put it conservatively, it’s been an insufferable, apocalyptic nightmare to be a Cubs fan this month.

So I think – because of these two epic losses, because they happened in Atlanta (where Jaimie, Davey, and I went to a Cubs-Braves game in 2017 that ended after one a.m. due to a rain delay), because I have 90 minutes to fill during alternate side parking, I have finally been able to start writing this. And it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized – I was sitting in my girlfriend’s dad’s car during alternative side parking on a Thursday morning in late September 2020 when Adam called me.

It didn’t make sense to me that Davey had died. We had been texting about the Cubs game the night before.

A 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh.

As I know so many people do, I really, really miss Davey. Every time I want to text or talk to him, it’s a wound that opens and re-opens. But when I feel the pain of his absence, I try to remember one of the greatest gifts he gave me.

In his brilliant solo show Stages that chronicles his fight with cancer, Davey talks about the idea – “be where your feet are.” It’s a simple way of trying to pull yourself into the present. He asks us to look at our feet, wiggle ours toes, and be where our feet are.

When I’m waiting on the subway platform and the train is delayed, when I’m sitting in the car for alternate side parking, when I’m waiting for something to be over with to get to the something that I’d rather be doing, when the Cubs are losing in spectacularly painful ways – I look down at my feet, wiggle my toes, take a breath, and remind myself to be where my feet are.

I don’t know if the Cubs will make it to the playoffs. It doesn’t do any good to play and replay the video of Seiya missing that fly ball. Loss is always gonna hurt. But right now – sitting in the car waiting for the street sweeper, writing about Davey, thinking about how the Cubbies are tied for a wild card spot with four games left in the season – right now is full of beautiful things.

p.s. If you’d like to read Davey’s wonderful blog from July 19, 2017 about the rain-delayed Cubs-Braves game, you can find it here.


p.p.s. Last night, I went to the rowdy Writers Guild of America East meeting to hear about the deal points of our new contract. It was through WGA health insurance that I was able to get my first colonoscopy in 2021. The doctors said I was too young, but I insisted – having Davey at the forefront of my mind. A polyp was found and removed that turned about to be pre-cancerous. Thank you, WGA. Thank you, Davey. Everyone, please get a colonoscopy!


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