The Chicago Cubs had plenty of wonderful moments throughout 2018, but as the New Year draws close, I’ve narrowed it down to the best single moment.
On Sunday, August 12, the Chicago Cubs hosted the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field and it was another tough outing for the North Siders as they struggled the entire game. Most of the camera attention was on Cubs newcomer, Cole Hamels, who was pitching his first game in Wrigley Field for the club.
Hamels’ camera time was well deserved as he struck out nine over seven innings. The veteran southpaw allowed only one hit and one run in his Wrigley debut but the Cubs were still down headed into the final frame.
In the ninth inning, it looked as the Cubs fate was sealed, trailing 3-0. Former MLB.com writer Carrie Muskat, reported the evening’s electric events. First, it was a Jason Heyward infield single. After Albert Almora got hit by a pitch, Willson Contreras followed suit, taking his HBP in stride and loading the bases.
Joe Maddon looked to his bench and there sat young David Bote who had been doing nothing but surprising Cubs fans and management since he took the field for an injured Kris Bryant. Could it be Bote’s time? This was certainly a chance for Joe Maddon as pinch hitter Bote struggled the day before against the Nationals swinging at an abundance of two-seamers according to Muskat. She recounted what Bote had felt in the at-bat.
“Today, I said, ‘You know what, I’m not going to get beat down there,’” he said. “The one that was down and away that he called a strike, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m looking for.’ It was a close pitch. I got that [2-2] pitch and I was like, ‘Just get it in the air. Hit it as hard as I can to center field.’ That was the approach and get underneath it.”
As Bote came to the plate with bases loaded facing Madson, he knew he was the Cubs’ last hope before their day off and trip to take on the Brewers. With two outs already, Bote felt the odds stacked against him but as the pitches came, there was hope.
After two balls and two strikes, the tension could be sliced with a knife but he saw that down and away pitch and knew he could get under it if another came his way. As Cubs fans got to their feet, the August air was filled with tension. Madson wound up and delivered another down and away ball – and just like that, Wrigley erupted into pandemonium.
As Bote connected, he knew it was a magical moment and he pointed away to let his team know he had delivered. The Cubs runners and team waited at home plate as Bote made his historical turns around the bases and headed home. There was absolute pandemonium at home plate.
It was only August but that night made the fans feel this team would make a run in October and David Bote made a memory he would never forget. Looking back, Bote was the promise that this team would not give up and would fight to the end which they did until the very last out of the season.