What The 2016 Chicago Cubs Taught Us About Hope (A Guest Post by Michael Murphy)

From time to time, I like to open up The Luke Norris Experience to those who have something they want to get out to the world but just don’t have a forum to do so. Just yesterday, I wrote a piece entitled “What The Cubs Winning The World Series Means To Me“, knowing full well that there were likely many others who had probably done the same or were thinking of doing the same. As it happens, one of those people is Michael Murphy, a great friend of mine that I’ve known since high school that shares my love for the Cubs. Murph is an extremely intelligent and talented lawyer who doesn’t get to do much creative writing but just as it was with me wanted to get his thoughts on the Cubs winning the World Series out to the world. So without further ado, here they are:

Don’t ever give up on your dreams, friends.

Through failure, adversity, frustration, mediocrity, humiliation, despair, and even desperation, don’t ever give up. Why?  There are many reasons, but one of them is that the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series. 

I was born in 1979 and have been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. I never considered rooting for another team; my father raised me to be a Cubs fan. It was the only thing I ever knew.  I never questioned it. I never begrudged my father for instilling this in me. I have always been and will always be a Chicago Cubs fan.

But I was bred into a losing fandom and could only dream what it might be like if the Cubs won a championship. In 2016, the Cubs had not won the World Series in 108 years. They had not even appeared in the World Series since 1945. From 1979 to 2016, the Cubs had 25 seasons where they lost more games than they won. But I never gave up hope.

The Cubs occasionally made the postseason. They were leading the National League Championship Series (NLCS) in 1984 three games to one, lost three straight games, and lost the series to San Diego. They were tied one game to one in the 1989 NLCS, and lost three straight games to San Francisco to lose the series. I barely remember these, but I learned of them through my Cubs fandom.   Despite this knowledge, I never gave up hope.

In 1998, after winning a one-game playoff, the Cubs achieved a wild card spot in the playoffs. The Cubs were swept in three games by the Atlanta Braves. But I never gave up hope.

In 2003, the Cubs won their first postseason series since 1908, beating the Atlanta Braves in five games in the National League Division Series (NLDS).  Then, the Cubs were leading the NLCS three games to one and were five outs away from advancing to the World Series, leading three to nothing in Game 6 against Florida. They lost Game 6, lost Game 7, and lost the series. I was 24, and I vividly remember the lasting pain of the conclusion of the 2003 Cubs season. But I never gave up hope. 

The Cubs had great teams in 2007 and 2008, winning the Central Division both years to advance to the postseason. They were swept in the NLDS by Arizona in 2007 and Los Angeles in 2008. That was nine straight postseason games lost.  But I never gave up hope. 

In 2015, the Cubs advanced to the NLCS, only to be swept in four games by New York.  But I never gave up hope.  

The 2016 Cubs season was different. THESE Cubs never gave up.  They had the best record in Major League Baseball, coming from behind to win an amazing eight times when they were trailing entering the ninth inning. These Cubs were leading the NLDS two games to one, but were down by three runs after eight innings in San Francisco. They were facing a series tied at two games each and a pressure-packed elimination Game 5 back at Wrigley Field. But they did not give up hope in Game 4.  They scored four runs in the ninth inning and won the series.

These Cubs were losing the NLCS two games to one in Los Angeles, having been shutout in the past two games. But they never gave up hope.  They won three games in a row to advance to the World Series.

These Cubs were losing the World Series three games to one. But they never gave up hope.  They won Game 5 at Wrigley Field to make the series three to two, yet then faced two road games in Cleveland, with Cleveland needing only one win to eliminate the Cubs. They won Game 6 nine to three, and proceeded to the ultimate baseball game, Game 7 of the World Series.

These Cubs had a six to three lead with two outs in the eighth inning of Game 7. They allowed Cleveland to tie the game six to six in the eighth. Although they surrendered the lead when they were four outs away from finally winning a title, they never gave up hope.

These Cubs rallied to score two runs in the tenth inning of Game 7. They allowed a run to Cleveland in the bottom of the tenth, and then with two outs, Cleveland had the tying run at first base, and the winning run at the plate. But these Cubs never quit; they only needed one more out. These Cubs got the final out and won their first World Series in 108 years. 

I believed in all the Chicago Cubs teams prior to 2016, and they did not achieve the ultimate goal. But I never gave up hope and believed again in 2016. These 2016 Chicago Cubs never quit.  These Chicago Cubs never gave up hope. These Chicago Cubs accomplished the seemingly impossible by winning the World Series.  These gritty, hardworking, never say die 2016 Cubs made their dreams come true, along with the dreams of millions of dedicated and faithful Cubs fans.

The story of the Chicago Cubs and its fandom transcends baseball. Being a Cubs fan is admittedly attaching great emotion to a game one has no power to affect, and sports fandom in general is not for everyone. The story of the Chicago Cubs, however, is a source of hope for all.

The fact that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series means that anything can happen, including things that have not occurred in over a century, things very few people alive have ever seen, and things no one alive has ever seen. No matter how long and painful the failure to achieve a goal may be, never give up hope. No matter how sad, depressed, ashamed, or exasperated one feels, there is always hope. Believe in your family, your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, your fellow Americans, humankind in general and, most importantly, yourself. There is always hope.

Sometimes, or maybe many times, or perhaps over a hundred times, the goal will not be achieved. But there is always hope that a goal thought to be only a dream can be achieved. When that goal is something you were emotionally invested in and hoped would happen for a lifetime, a Cubs fan can assure you that reaching it will be an amazing experience. So, don’t ever give up on your dreams, friends.  

-Michael P. Murphy

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The Power of Hope (A Guest Post by Garrett Collins)

(This is another first for The Luke Norris Experience. Welcome to the first “Up Close and Personal” piece written by someone other than myself. Call it a guest post if you like. As you well know, I’ve been working with Binge Media for some time now, creating a nice following with Binge Sports. Last year, they added a movie correspondent, Garrett Collins, to assist with some of the reviews and podcasts, even creating a new show called the Binge Movie Aftertaste. Listen to the most recent show HERE. His knowledge of film is unparalleled and honestly, his written movie reviews are the only ones on the internet that I ever read. That’s not just hype for the site. That’s actual fact. But there’s so much more to this man. Look, I’ve never actually met Garrett. He’s out on the west coast while I reside here in central Illinois, but over the past few months, I’ve done numerous podcasts with him and had so many great conversations with him off the air, and I can say with complete certainty that not only is he great at what he does, he’s a great person and I’m proud to consider him a colleague and a friend. Garrett’s a busy guy with a lot going on, so when he asked to use The Luke Norris Experience as an outlet to get some things off of his chest, it was a no-brainer. Below is a powerful piece from Garrett about life, dreams, sadness, but most of all, hope. Enjoy.)

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There I sat. In a packed car, sitting on the edge of freeway traffic whizzing by, as the sweltering sun hit my face and beads of sweat slowly moved down my face. The contemplation was done, and I had made up my mind. A shiny steak knife was in my left wrist, pointed logistically at my right. What made this decision ring even more true to me was how three highway policemen had moved past me without a purpose. It was finally going to happen. I was set to check out, wondering what my final thought would be as my final moment passed. Right before doing so, something crossed my mind. And that something was the question of how did it come to this? How is it that two weeks before I was present at the premiere of a film I in fact produced? This was supposed to be a happy time. Why did my mental capabilities feel the need to fulfill my life’s promise like this? How does someone go from the proud arrival in his parents’ arms to just wanting to give it all up? And how long before my body would follow suit?

I know. That is a lot of questions to start an article off. Before I get into the answers to all these questions and more, let me give a bit background on myself. Because most people who come to this blog are probably looking to read what is going on in Mr. Norris’ life and probably has no idea who the hell this person he gave the space to is blabbing away. My name is Garrett Collins and I work with Luke at a little site called Binge Media.

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While he handles sports, I handle a lot of the film side of things. My show I host over there, called the Binge Movie Aftertaste, is one of the most fun things I have ever had the pleasure of doing. In addition to doing hosting duties and writing reviews & opinion pieces for the site, I also make movies. My first production, the already mentioned Refuge, has been striding toward the festival circuit. With at least three other projects on the horizon, including a film produced with my podcast hosting partner Jason Morris and starring Lance Henriksen, are all stuck in development hell. The dream of making movies has happened. So why am I not content? Because I felt the need to ignore the things most adults pay dapper attention to in order to chase a dream.

Close human relationships are essential to living. This type of contact is needed for support. I always thought I could get away with not having it, and just chasing the dream. But emotionally, I tend to push away instead of open myself up. Unlike most of my colleagues, I do not have a family or supportive significant other. These are things that I am missing, and my statement of individuality was by ignoring this problem. In doing research for a new project involving suicide cults, I learned the exact way of cutting a vein so that it would leave the cutter to die quick and painlessly. This was supposed to be used for authenticity. Not personal fulfillment.

A job loss can be a detrimental thing. But the fact is that I did not have a family to support and only myself. But word came down that the huge company I had been working for was doing some downsizing. Another personal note: I had filed for bankruptcy the year before. The downhill rolling of boulders would not stop. For two weeks, I applied and was rejected. Sometimes being told by even fast food kitchens that I had not been up to par with at least two other applicants going for the same job. How can someone go from working behind a desk to going to a starving man not able to get one job?

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So why would I go on and on about this? Because I want to tell people feeling the lowest of the low that there is hope. I was feeling selfish. Evidence being once I did finally get a good job, my body rejected it. On the 4th of July, I was getting ready to go to a party when all I can describe as the most violent of stomach pains hit me following a bout with bloody urine. When people say pain hits them like a ton of bricks, I can’t help thinking they have experienced appendicitis. With a stroke of luck I was with someone who could get me to the hospital, and I fathom to think what would have happened if I did not have that luxury. All the signs were there. Even when things were crumbling around me, the lights of hope were just that.

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Thing is, all of this could have been prevented. When someone tells you to ‘grow up,’ usually there is a tough love motive. By ignoring all warnings, my body started rejecting me. My point in writing this article is not to selfishly get my story out there. It is to warn any and all readers out there that if your body or mind talks to you, don’t ignore them. Your body tells you to ‘grow up,’ please listen. And no matter what, you are selfishly negating people of your presence and love if you end it. I have no idea why, but I put that knife away that day. I decided to metaphorically and physically give myself another chance. People around you will talk to you like you love them, and you can take what they say any which way you can. But when your body tells you otherwise, don’t ignore it. All you are doing is making it worse. That knife went away, and my life got back on track. I know yours has just as much hope.

I want to thank Luke a ton for giving me this space to talk to you all. I hope your desecration is not being looked at through rose colored glasses, but also not ignored. Now I have made a residence in Los Angeles and am at a job I know will lead to the dreams I have worked so hard at.  But I have also grown to be unselfish and as for you, I know that if you work at it, it will improve. Thank you.