By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) [Flash forward to the year 2025]
Hello, children. Are we ready to see if LeBron James Jr. can ruin the narrative of Derrick Rose’s final playoff appearance?
OK, Uncle Tim. But, Uncle Tim, we heard that today is special for another reason.
Oh, is today April the 17th? Right you are, you bright little scamps. Right you are. Today is the 10th anniversary of Kris Bryant’s first game with the Chicago Cubs.
The Kris Bryant from Fast and Furryous 12, my favorite action film series about drag racing dogs with Vin Diesel?
The Kris Bryant who is married to President Taylor Swift?
The very same, children. But before he did all that, he played baseball and made many pathetic people happy.
Tell us about him, Uncle Tim.
Well, if you insist. One of you make your dear old uncle a drink and then gather round.
Our story begins in 2015. The world wasn’t much different than it is now. People all got along, socially and politically. Racism was as good as dead. Women were properly respected in sports media and most elsewhere. We were processing anti-vaxxers into fuel for our cars that didn’t yet fly. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had unified what you know today as The Windy City brought to you by McDonald’s and presented by Pfizer. The Rolling Stones were still alive.
Despite everything being pretty swell, the world was missing something. We felt incomplete, particularly here in what was then called Chicago.
See, the Cubs at the time hadn’t won a World Series in a hundred-something years. I know, I know. Silly to consider today.
In 2015, the Cubs had put together a pretty good team filled with rising stars — names like Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro had the city abuzz, but so many years worth of scar tissue prevented faith from truly taking hold of our hearts.
But we had heard of The One. He was just a kid, supposedly with tons of raw power and blue eyes you could get lost in for days. An oracle who had fans’ best interests always at heart named Scott Boras told us how special this young man was, and we wanted to believe him, but the people in charge of the Cubs told us we weren’t yet ready for him, nor he for us.
Twelve days. Twelve agonizing days, children, bereft of bleachers and bathrooms, wandering through a desert of a 5-3 record that might have been 8-0 had the team just listened to the prophet Boras, but “The Great (Egotistical Epstein) Plan” ensured we would never know.
Luckily, we had allies within the clubhouse, and true believers Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella martyred themselves so that The One might truly live. So we all might.
‘Twas the night before Krismas, and I was in a pizzeria with a personal device called a laptop, trying to come up with more of my trademark hilarious pregame stuff for a Blackhawks playoff game.
You mean you weren’t always Featured Columnist at ESPN 4D?
No, I hadn’t sold out quite yet then. Anyway, word came across Twitter that Kris Bryant was coming to Wrigley Field the next day. As was common practice of the day, I patiently waited for one national reporter to confirm the report from the other national columnist who confirmed the report of another reporter.
Still there were some who lacked faith.
All fun aside, there are 154 games left. Tomorrow is exciting, but it's just the start of the long haul.—
Len Kasper (@LenKasper) April 17, 2015
Kasper, of course, went to jail later that season after a violent rampage when someone at the grocery store questioned him about the validity of fielding independent pitching. It’s still sad to think a really bright guy like him might have converted at some point if not for that temper.
Bryant arrived in town with typical braggadocio and hubris that jealous White Sox fans told everyone to expect.
Today I got to tell my family that my dream is coming true. Can't really put into words what that feels like. So excited for this journey!—
Kris Bryant (@KrisBryant_23) April 17, 2015
He was polite enough to ask Mark Grace’s permission to wear No. 17, and Grace agreed so long as Bryant “did me a favor real quick and started my car outside just like Bobby Hill did when he asked me the same thing.”
After that, though, it was his bat that did all the talking. Bryant led the league in home runs and won Rookie of the Year and a beer pong tournament at The Cubby Bear. He even talked the organization out of Fire Felix Pie From a Cannon Day and convinced the team that employs Manny Ramirez to properly honor Sammy Sosa. Everything in the world of the Cubs was beautiful and perfect.
The rest, as you all know, is history.
Did the Cubs ever win the World Series, Uncle Tim?
Well, kids, it’s getting late.
It’s 10 in the morning, Uncle Tim, and you haven’t even had your second Scotch yet. And why were you sleeping on our couch agai—
I hear your parents calling you for bedtime, children.
But what about “The Great Plan” and—?
EVERYTHING WAS GREAT AND WE WERE ALL HAPPY AND WE ARE HAPPY TODAY AND SHUT YOUR MOUTHS AND STOP RUINING THIS FOR ME.
I mean, Merry Krismas. And Kris bless us, everyone.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.