Can It Get Any Worse?
Just as sure as the day is long, there will always be some happening here in the Philippines that will become an affirmation – that you might be living in the country that “Ain’t Quite Right.” And whatever it is that happens, it will happen most times when you most expect it Not to happen. Maybe you are a Manchester United fan or a New Zealander (Kiwi) Rugby fanatic. Maybe you like watching NASCAR or Formula I Racing. (Basketball will be excluded here for reasons that are overly obvious.) Me, I originally hail from the Chicago-land area and grew up with televised baseball because it was the only televised sport to watch. I have been a life-long Chicago Cubs fan (that would be American Baseball for those who are not familiar). While there may be certain similarities among us expats living in the Philippines, there are distinct differences between where we all originated from or the types of sports we love to indulge in. But then there is another similarity that we may possess… an unabated dedication and loyalty to the teams we love as sports-crazy fans. Idealistically, we love to watch our favorite sport or sports team, with regularity and without inconvenience.
It All Depends…
…on where you choose to hang your hat (or in this case, park your flip-flops). If you choose to settle in a larger metropolitan area such as Manila or Cebu City, you may find a reliable source for your favorite sports broadcast, for your uninterrupted viewing pleasure. But when you choose to live a more quiet and serene lifestyle (provincial living), you will find heaps of new challenges that are not necessarily applicable to living in, say Manila for example. Because we chose to live in Samar, we accepted this notion that life will not necessarily always be paradise perfect, unless you can forgo the reliable needs of burgers and pizza or technology and TV, and enjoy daily doses of nothing but good-looking ladies, beach scenery, and coconut trees. There is a trade-off. Living in paradise comes with its challenges of giving up some comfort and familiarity. And it begins with electricity, internet, and cable TV, and a lack thereof.
While I accepted the previously mentioned notion that life would be different when we moved here, I never anticipated just HOW agonizing it could become… until this past week. Yes we have brown outs and we do have a generator. And we do experience cable TV interruptions, spotty cell phone coverage, and poor internet service. We have accepted all that in stride with everyday life here. Most days when we lose any one of the above services, it is but a short-lived inconvenience. When the power goes out, I will head out to the garden or play with the dog. When the cable TV signal disappears, I might head to the computer or the refrigerator. When the internet goes spotty, I can watch TV or play with the dog or head to the refrigerator. It’s usually just a minor short-term adjustment to a normally routine situation and, like I said, we accept that it will happen and it does.
Not In My Lifetime.
Being that I am a die-hard Cubs fan, it should be no surprise to say that I have been living at a feverish pitch for weeks. First the Cubs won their division title. Then they went on to win the-best-of-7 National League Championship Series. From there it was on to the World Series to meet the opposing American League Champions, the Cleveland Indians. To put this in a more worldly perspective, the World Series to Americans is akin to the Barcelona vs. Real Madrid football rivalry or the Manchester United vs. Liverpool match-up. Add to this that it had been 178 cumulative years since either of these teams won a World Series title, it made for a perfect series match-up. The Indians last appearance in the Championship won them a title in 1948. For the Cubs, it had been 71 years since their last appearance in the Championship and 108 years since they last won the title. Not in my lifetime had I ever met anyone who could remember the Cubs winning the World Series (I’m sure my grandparents would have remembered, but it wasn’t quite as significant all those years ago.) 108 years was the longest drought by any team in North American Sports.
I didn’t get a chance to watch much baseball all season long because it is just not that popular on the international stage and not televised like the NBA or world Football or rugby matches. Every once in a while, I might catch a baseball game on early in the morning, but it can be any one of a number of teams playing and not necessarily my favorite team. When the Cubs did win their division and then the division series, now FOX Sports 2 on our local cable channel was scheduled to televise all the playoffs and the World Series. But because the Cubs have only gotten this far 3 times in my lifetime, I wasn’t taking any undue chances on our cable TV provider. I purchased an internet subscription to MLB.TV, so in the event of a cable outage, I could still receive streaming video. It was only $29.99 USD for the Post Season Package. I planned my days carefully for the interim. Mornings would be spent watching baseball, and then I could enjoy lunch and a nap, and my afternoons were free. Not a bad gig I thought. As I watched all the NLCS games, I only experienced one brief cable outage for about 15 minutes and I stayed in the game via my MLB.TV subscription on the computer. After winning the National League Championship, I again set aside my mornings for baseball… nothing would disturb me. I recall my wife asking me to take her to town one morning just 10 minutes before game time and I responded to her with a resounding NO! It was at that very moment that I realized I was experiencing two rare events in history for me this day. (1) I was watching the Cubs play on the 23rd of October, and (2) my wife asked me to drive her to the market and I said NO! GO Cubbies I thought!
The Perfect Storm!
Once the World Series began, I sat in bewilderment as I watched my Cubs play at Wrigley Field with World Series logos spread out on the field. It was soooo surreal. As the series progressed, Cleveland eventually took a commanding 3 to 1 lead and the teams were now heading back to Cleveland for game 5 (and games 6 & 7 if needed). This was not good statistically as only 5 teams in World Series history have come back after being down 3 to 1 to win the Series. The Cubs won the next two games to tie up the series at 3 games apiece. It was do or die! By this time I had my morning routine down. Get up early, head outside, do a little work around the yard, play with the dog, clean myself up and take my breakfast position in the sala (living room) on the couch where my wonderful wife (after having lived long and experienced life with me during 30 consecutive losing seasons) treated me to first class breakfast service. She had to feel both happy and sorry for me, I’m sure. Game 7 was underway! The Cubs struck early with a home run with their first hitter, and the Indians answered and tied the game the following inning. I was feeling a little jittery into the bottom of the 5th inning when the Indians posted two runs to make it a 5 to 3 game when the cable TV signal went frozen. “Not a problem” I thought as I immediately moved over to my desk where I logged into my MLB.TV subscription. It took me several minutes (about 8… which seemed like all eternity) to get a good sync with my signal and the stream going (I’m using a Globe pocket-WiFi for my internet). All was well. The Cubs had posted another run while I was MIA and now the score was 6 to 3 and I was feeling some relief – like a hungry gecko hanging out in a rice padis. Then, in the bottom of the 8th inning, just after the Indians hit a three-run homer and tied it up… BAM! It happened. Power outage. Nervously I thought, this is a minor inconvenience – no problem, it should only last a couple minutes and power will be restored and all will be well again… except the score. I sat there and stared at my powerless, black computer screen for too long. All I could think (I really couldn’t think) was that the Cubs were playing in a game 7 of the World Series and I might as well be on fricken Pluto! Ten minutes went by before the Mrs. said, “can you turn on the generator?” “Brilliant Idea Ms. Teri!” Why didn’t I think of that? Oh, I couldn’t think, remember! I was dumbstruck to say the least. It took me only 6 minutes to get the generator fired up and back to my computer where I had to start all over getting the WiFi sync/Live stream going. Now it was the bottom of the 9th and the score was tied. I was a nervous wreck as I thought we had this game with a three run lead! WTF happened? Then I realized… I live in the Philippines. This is what came with my paradise deal. I waited my entire life for this and I’m dying here! Was it the curse? (there is after all, the curse of the goat since 1945) I watched the cubs post two runs in the top of the 10th inning and I was again awestruck… then it happened AGAIN! I lost the internet signal at the bottom of the 10th inning with one runner on base. I began having thoughts like “who do I know that knows how to do CPR?”… and “Maybe I can drive over to the power company YELL AT SOMEBODY,” like that would do any good. “Hey wait” I thought, I still have facebook and my friend Mark (Indian rooter) is watching… and I quickly got him to chat with me giving me a play-by-play. I think at this point, it was much easier to see my most feared outcome in text format than it was to watch it all happen live. The anxiety was killing me softly. One run was already in for Cleveland and now it was 8 to 7 and there were two outs when my MLB stream came back. Until now, I was switching back and forth between Mark’s chat box updates and the delayed (2 minute) computer stream to finish the game. It was better this way. I thought I could survive knowing ahead of time if the Cubs won or lost before I would witness it with my own eyes. But then… I turned off the chat and went to the screen. I wanted to see it, not read about it. After all, it has never happened in my lifetime! Then it happened… CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!
And while the power remained off for 6 hours this day (not normal), I managed to keep the game alive, salvaging my own sanity, all the way to a most glorious outcome. I don’t know if I could handle another one like this. Then again, maybe I can! Wait ’til next year!
Realize this: It took the Cubs 108 years to win the World Series in 2016, which that number easily converts to 108. And they won it in 10 innings with 8 runs, with a baseball that has 108 stitches.