Why are we even doing this?
I've asked that question to myself so many times this fall. Sitting at the Carrier Dome and watching Louisville hang 70 points on Syracuse. Watching South Florida--SOUTH FREAKING FLORIDA--go on a 45-3 run. Through it all, I sat there watching my six-year-old son next to me go from mildly interested in the action on the field, to looking up photos on my wife's phone, to bored out of his mind. It got so bad, that prior to the Virginia Tech game a few weeks back, I almost had to bribe him to go to the game.
"Don't worry, Brady, we'll probably leave after halftime. Maybe we'll even be home in time to all cuddle up on the couch and watch some Henry Danger before bedtime."
And honestly, I was looking forward to doing that more than I was excited to drive an hour south on 1-81, find and then pay for parking, get up to the Dome, and watch another ass-whooping. All three of us, relaxing on a Saturday night vs. the three of us sitting in a quiet and nearly-empty Dome? C'mon, man, picking a winner in that fight was easy.
Then, all of a sudden, SU plays one hell of a game that October 15. The crowd stays in it for four quarters. And about 15 minutes afterward, at a point I thought we would all be in our PJs watching some ridiculous Nick Jr. show, the three of us were still inside under the bubble, cheering with thousands of other just-as-stunned people. The game was over, the camera crews were tearing down, and there we were, creating a memory!
Cool-as-hell moment! pic.twitter.com/z7cyRbBGwM— Matthew McClusky (@MatthewMcClusky) October 15, 2016
That night is among the best of the best for me when it comes to in-person Orange games.
Luckily enough, I've been going to the Dome for about 30 years, and I've been fortunate enough to see some really great moments. Special moments. It's actually why my wife and I got season tickets this year in the first place. Because we want our son to have his own unforgettable memories like me. I'll always be reminded of games against Miami when I literally couldn't hear my dad ask me if I wanted a "Dome Dog" even though he was right next to me and there was a timeout on the field. There has been heartbreak and pure elation. And there has been plenty of antipathy along with a glazed-over ambivalence. But 12 years after my dad's passing, I cherish every visit to the Dome to watch Syracuse I had with him and my mom.
Yet, until the Orange shocked the Syracuse World that Saturday afternoon against the Hokies, I was worried that the program had cratered. And even worse, I was really worried that it cratered a decade ago and I was just too naive to believe that it was never going to get better. It was bad, really bad, but was there no hope at all?
Of course I know that beating one top-25 team doesn't a program make. Hell, Dino Babers could still end up flopping as head man here. And regardless, this Syracuse team still probably won't even make a bowl game.
But damn it all, that win over Virginia Tech gave me and thousands of other followers hope. And most importantly, it gave my son a reason. A reason to care, a reason to want to come back. A reason to remember.
It's like that feeling all non-Chicago fans get watching those awesome YouTube clips of people celebrating their team's Wold Series win.
Every time I watch it, I swear it gets dusty in the McClusky house.
Watching thousands of people, all crammed on a street in front of an empty stadium with their team miles away. And sure, most of them had access to an Internet feed, or audio, of the game in Cleveland. But excluding the bandwagon fans who just wanted to go out an drink, the rest of the lot were tortured believers who needed to be at Wrigley Field, to be there in person to see the marquee read "World Series Champions!"in order to believe it.
I sent my wife that video above and she texted back, "That is awesome! I love winning!" We all love winning.
It's what makes those clips of grandparents crying so great to watch. Because they never thought they'd live to see the Chicago Cubs win the last game of a World Series. Those incredibly raw videos that were captured on film by their kids or their grandkids, who were also overcome with emotion.
It's ecstasy in relief. That feeling of having thousands of pounds of metaphorical weight lifted off your shoulders.
Precisely at 12:47 a.m. Thursday morning, as Kris Bryant smiled while helping record the most important out in the history of a professional baseball franchise that is 139 years old, it had to be like, HOLY SHIT, THIS IS REAL, WHAT DO I DO? HOW DO I ACT?! for those Cubs fans.
And after the jumping up and down stopped, after the tears started to dry, when the screaming quieted and the texting was through, that moment of letting it all sink in became their sports zen, nirvana. That's why we all care so much. That's what we want. We want that time. As my wife put it, we all want to win!
Today, everyone outside Ohio is feeling good for Chicago fans because they can relate. And more importantly, they want to relate. For the first time or for another time.
I mean, don't you think about Syracuse when you see those people just let loose? If not, this isn't for you. But for the rest of us, watching the Cubs beat the world that had always seemingly been against them was heartwarming. The team that couldn't just did. For so many more reasons than I could list, the Chicago Cubs have always represented of all our teams at one point or another, in some way or another. And their team winning it all means our teams, in whatever sport, can do it, too.
Sadly, the moment for Syracuse football may never truly happen. What are the odds that Syracuse football, that small school in the middle of Nowhere, New York, with it's smallish budget and lagging facilities, will actually climb the mountain top in cooperate college football? Instead, maybe our king-of-the-hill times will be in the victories over the Va. Techs of the ACC, or maybe eventually, over the years, a stunner over Florida State or Clemson (a win this weekend would bring many a fan to tears). We could all be meant for those fleeting memory-makers at the Dome like my son experienced for the first time last month
Then again, Cubs fans always had that fallback crutch of "there's always next year." Even though most of weren't sure they believed it. No matter, though, as they kept coming back. Season after season. Gluttons for punishment, the lot of them. Me too. All of us. As I'll be lugging my family back up to the Dome again next weekend regardless of this weekend's results for the Orange. We're all the very embodiment of insanity--doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
Funny, as fan and fanatic blur depending on the result.
We're all constantly following along, no matter what, hearts in hands, hoping to find the same answer Chicago fans found after game seven of the World Series.
Why do we do it all? Pfft..that's actually easy. We do it all for those types of moments when it all comes together, when the past doesn't matter, when the unbelievable becomes reality. We the fans do it all for the incredible end-all-be-all moments, even if they're few and and far between for most of us.