By Randy Richardson
In the movies, the standard way for things to go from bad to worse is rain. Rock bottom often precedes this classic cinematic trope.
Director Mel Brooks famously played this to comedic effect in the movie, “Young Frankenstein,” in which the scientist and his sidekick, Igor (“that’s EYE-gor”) are digging up a corpse in a haunted graveyard.
“What a filthy job,” observes the doctor.
“Could be worse,” replies Igor.
“Could be raining.”
At this moment, of course, there is a crack of thunder, and the deluge begins.
Similarly, in Rob Reiner’s 1985 romantic comedy, “The Sure Thing,” starring a young John Cusack as a college student on a cross-country quest for a hook up arranged by his high school buddy, Lance, Cusack’s character, Gib, gets stuck in the middle of nowhere with a beautiful but repressed Allison (Daphne Zuniga) and won’t stop complaining about their predicament.
“Can’t you look on the bright side?” an irritated Allison interrupts.
This is followed by a clap of thunder and a torrential downpour.
In movie parlance, this trope is referred to as “Cue the rain.”
The 2015 Cubs’ season had a cinematic feel to it. From day one, we were constantly reminded that the 1989 Robert Zemeckis movie, “Back to the Future Part II,” predicted that the Cubs would win the 2015 World Series.
In the NLCS, Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried to lift his team from a 2-0 deficit by playing the theme song from the movie, “Rocky,” in the clubhouse.
The team never did fly high in the NLCS. They could have used the hoverboards that “Back to the Future II” also predicted.
I started thinking about this in the 8th inning of Game 3 of the NLCS, long after the drop-third strike, Kris Bryant’s bobbled ball at third, and Kyle Schwarber’s misjudged liner in the outfield. How could it be worse?
Cue the rain.
By the time I made my way onto a packed-like-sardines northbound Red Line car, I looked a lot Cusack’s Gib did in “The Sure Thing” when the rain fell on him. Soaked. And Beaten.
It was a long trip home. Even though the series wasn’t yet over, it sure felt like it was. I wouldn’t be attending Game 4, but a loss seemed inevitable – a sure thing, if you will.
The so-called Friendly Confines turned out to be anything but for the Cubs in the NLCS. That optimism that we could come back in our own ballpark, after the Mets beat up on us in theirs, took a shot to the heart in Game 3.
The 2015 Cubs went so far beyond our expectations that it is that much more painful to say goodbye to them. We all started to believe in them. We all began to think, against our better instincts, that maybe – just maybe – this was the year.
That’s why it hurts all the more. The wounds of that game – that series – will take some time to heal. But they will heal. They always do. That’s what winter in Chicago is for.
By the time spring comes around again, we will be filled with more hope than ever. Not just because we’re Cubs fans. Because we know what we saw. We know that these kids can play, and that they’re only going to get better. And we will have them all for a full season. We will have a new pitcher or two to welcome to our starting rotation. Maybe more kids will come. Best of all, we will still have Maddon to lead them.
When spring comes around, optimism will abound. The memories of that game – that series – will have mostly faded. New and much better memories will replace them.
Cue the rainbow.
Randy Richardson is the author of the Wrigleyville murder mystery, Lost in the Ivy, and a regular contributor to Wrigleyville Nation.