Matt Spiegel/670 The Score

Spiegel: The Best Rally I Ever Missed

A wonderful wedding day reminded of what's most important in life.

Matt Spiegel
April 20, 2018 - 2:26 pm
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By Matt Spiegel--

(670 The Score) I just married the most ardent Cubs fan in town.

OK, I guess we have to define “"ardent." She doesn't use face paint. She doesn't have any logo jewelry, tattoos or piercings. Our home isn't festooned with memorabilia. She can't recite endless stats of the current team, nor rattle off rosters from previous years.

But she feels the love for her team as passionately as anyone I’ve ever been around. Her father brought her to the Wrigley Field bleachers as a little girl, usually with her sister and four young female cousins, six Pierce Street cuties watching the game while the old man had a couple. It was her Sunday bliss.

So now she maintains one can never be in a bad mood at Wrigley Field. She glows there. 

Our wedding day was scheduled with an afternoon game in mind. Morning ceremony, followed by Bloody Marys and breakfast, all wrapped up by noon so guests who’d want in could make it to first pitch of the Cubs game.

Well of course guests wanted in. We were paying.

After major plotting, minor haggling and impressive financial rationalization, we decided to get a suite. There would be octogenarians and kids to keep warm, fed and happy. So who cares if we drop a mortgage payment or four?

It was worth every penny.

Matt Spiegel/670 The Score

I think we would've been treated well even if I weren't a solid local C-list celebrity. That’s the suitemaster’s job, making the client feel special. And let me tell you, this vaguely employed one-time daily sports radio host felt special. The procession of visitors and kindnesses eventually made me genuinely uncomfortable. "ENOUGH WITH THE FREE STUFF AND THE GOOD TREATMENT ALREADY."

The main point: 36 wedding guests were happy, the bride was blushing, the food was excellent and the outdoor seats were very rarely used.

Oh, did I mention that this was Saturday, April 14? It was the day the Cubs played in what manager Joe Maddon described as "the worst weather he’s ever managed a baseball game in." It was, if I recall, six degrees out, with a thin layer of ice forming on every off-speed pitch Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana hurled toward the plate. Then, the Atlanta Braves would shatter that ice as they battered the ball into the outfield gap again and again. 

By the time we hit the middle of the fourth, Atlanta was ahead 10-2, and the suite was out of hot dogs. This is probably because some East Coast Spiegels took the sweet suite Vienna Beef over to the bratwurst area and added sauerkraut, et al. There were brats untouched all damn day. Judge my family at your leisure.

The Cubs stank. The weather was historically brutal. But the vibes, babe, the vibes were so good. Love was in the air, and the dessert cart finally arrived. Did you know they’ll now just give you a scoop of raw cookie dough in a mini-helmet if you want it? I was disgusted and aroused, simultaneously.

Slowly, despite the balmy interior, guests started to leave. It was a 9 a.m. ceremony after all, and watching baseball inside could be done lying in a bed somewhere, pants-less.

By the top of the seventh, the Braves led 10-3. We were down from 36 to about 18 souls. My six-year-old and his now official eight-year-old cousin had collected everyone’s mini-helmets, hands and faces smeared with ice cream drippings. My sister-in-law, mother-in-law, wife, son, nephew and stepdaughter were patiently -- but clearly -- ready to go. It had been a long and beautiful day.

We charged once more into the outdoor miserableness to frigidly sing along with Bears coach Matt Nagy for the seventh-inning stretch. It was sweetly communal, one final taste of matrimonial, sporting togetherness. Truthfully though, I think by then a lot of us did care if we never got back.

As we gathered bags and gifts and flowers for the walk to the car, hey look, the Cubs scored twice in the bottom of the seventh. That Ben Zobrist triple was awesome. How do you not love triples? They provide one of the game’s longest stretches of continuous action.  

It was 10-5, top of the eighth. There are 12 of us, and nine decide to go. Yes, I'm among them. 

You know what happens next. We walk to the parking lot, hearing sporadic cheers along the way. As we load two car trunks with bags in the freezing drizzle, my friend who plays guitar, one of three suite survivors, calls to tell us Javy Baez just tied the game with a three-run double. It’s a two-out, nine-run rally by the Cubs to establish the 14-10 final score. It will be a game brought up at the end of the season, no matter what happens from here on out. 

"Where were you when..." Oy.

Here’s my friend, breaking out the guitar he used at the ceremony that morning, for an impromptu "Go, Cubs, Go" in the near empty ballpark.

Matt Spiegel/670 The Score

So I missed the comeback of a lifetime. But here’s the thing: I made the best decision in that moment for my people. Right then and there, on the wedding day. That’s what responsible, strong husbands and fathers are supposed to do.

If you’ve listened to me through the yearse at all, you might know this isn't my first rodeo. Nor is it her’s. We’re older, wiser and our vows to each other reflected that. I’ll share one of mine with you:

"I promise to put the needs and nurturing of my family before the needs and nurturing of my ego."

I regret nothing. It reminds me a little of Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting," describing with awe the moment that Carlton Fisk homered to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series to a young Matt Damon, only to eventually admit he’d turned down a ticket because he had to "go see about a girl."

"Wow ... woulda been nice to catch that game though."

"I didn’t know Pudge was gonna hit a homer!"

The next morning, through the magic of MLB.TV, the newly minted Mrs. Spiegel and I watched the entire eighth inning, as well as Brandon Morrow closing out the top of the ninth, over mimosas and room service. We were warm, cozy and married as all hell.

Here’s to a lifetime of good decisions and good ballgames.

Wow ... woulda been nice to catch that rally in person, though ...

Follow Matt Spiegel on Twitter @MattSpiegel670.

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