Baseball bucket list: Game 162

Baseball bucket list: Game 162

Somewhere in the back of their minds  I think all sports fans, and especially baseball fans, have a list of things they want to make sure that they get the chance to see or do before it’s all over. There are the obvious things that probably go without saying, like seeing our team win the World Series, standing on the field where our team plays, and meeting our favorite player. Then there are things that are perhaps less obvious to us at first, but no less important or attainable. In some cases, they are easier to scratch off of that list.

For a lot of baseball fans, I think their lists go something like this:

1. See my team win the World Series

2. Meet my favorite player

3. Visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

4. Stand on the field where my team plays

5. See a game in all 30 stadiums

and so on.

I have found that baseball, probably more so than any of the other sports, seems to lend itself well to creating lists like this. I’ve encountered more people who talk about what they want to do or see involving baseball than any other sport. I think it is far more common for people to try to do number 5 on this list in baseball than anything else. Just this year there’s a fan who has biked to all 30 of the stadiums to see a game:

Perhaps it’s because baseball is the oldest of the professional sports and the one most concerned with its history, but I would challenge anyone to find examples of things like this in any other major sport in the United States. It’s one of the things that makes baseball a little unique, and one of the reasons that I have a deeper appreciation of it than I do of the other sports that I follow.

For me, the list is something like this:

1. See the Cubs win the World Series

2. Go to Cooperstown, NY

3. See a game in all 30 stadiums (only 5 so far – both in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Cincinnati)

4. Stand on the field at Wrigley (first in July of 2009, and then again this May when I took my oldest son and we ran the bases together)

5. Go to a playoff game in person

6. Go to game 162 (yesterday, at Miller Park for Cubs vs. Brewers)

and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting, but these are the big ones.

Yesterday, I had the chance to do something on my baseball bucket list. Something that I’m a little surprised that I hadn’t done already, but that’s just the way of things sometimes, I think. I had always loved watching the final game of the regular season because it was the last bit of baseball that I would see my favorite team, the Cubs, play for several months. Most years, with that final out of game 162 came the end of Cubs baseball until the following April. I always watch as much of the playoffs as I can each year, but it’s just not the same. This year, of course, for at least one game that will not be the case. We get more Cubs baseball in just a couple of days, and we hope that even more Cubs baseball will come in the following weeks.

But nonetheless, I decided several weeks ago that I wanted to see the Cubs play at Miller Park in the final weekend of the season because it would give me a chance to reconnect with an old friend from college who lives  northwest of Milwaukee and maybe a chance to see the final game of the regular season in person. As we checked both of our schedules, we decided that yesterday’s game was the one that would work best. So, almost accidentally, I ended up fulfilling something that has been on my baseball bucket list for a while: I was going to game 162. I had always appreciated the finality of it, and yesterday I got the chance to see it in person. The picture above is from my seat way up in section 430 at Miller Park just after the final out of the game (and there’s another one at the end of this post from the same spot). That moment was exciting for me as a Cubs fan, watching my team shake hands and thinking about the one game playoff coming on Wednesday, but as it was happening, I kept looking around at the Brewers fans that were there. And I noticed too that the Brewers players had gone immediately to their home dugout and started handing things into the stands to the fans that were in that area. They were taking off their jerseys and handing them into the seats to the Milwaukee faithful. The Brewers fans around me, many of whom and long turned their attention to the Green Bay Packers, were slowly filing out, some already talking about next year. About how they’d be better. About their new GM. About the young prospects in their system.

And that, most certainly, was a very familiar feeling as a Cubs fan. It was strange being on the other side of this spectrum yesterday. I was thinking about the pitching matchup for Wednesday, whether or not I thought Dan Haren was going to be good enough to pitch in the playoffs at all, what the final score of the Reds-Pirates game had been. All very strange for a Cubs fan who has been long used to spending October watching other teams play.

Game 162 ultimately felt a little unceremonious. It wasn’t really until it was all over and as I drove home to the northwest suburbs that I really thought about just how long of a process 162 games is. No matter the end result of the season, teams spend a long time building toward this end. And for half of the guys who were in uniform yesterday, this was it. They were going home. For the other half, they are continuing, but one thing is the same. Whatever their performance in that game, those numbers that they put up are now final. There’s not another chance to get another hit or strike somebody else out. It’s over.

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Tags: Brewers, cubs

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