Mission Impossible: Accomplished

By: Tim Van Duyne

My beloved Chicago Cubs made it back to the NLCS for the first time since 2003 (we all know what happened then). The problem for me was the timing of game one. I broadcast all of Illinois State’s volleyball games as a part of my graduate assistantship, and the Redbirds were playing Southern Illinois at the very same time the Cubs and Mets were playing at Citi Field in New York.

I had two options: 1) I could have had streamed the game on my tablet while watching the Cubs game with one eye. This is a terrible way to watch a game. It’s like watching a great movie with the sound down. 2) I could try to pull off the impossible: record the game and watch it later without knowing the outcome. You can understand why this option can be so hard with the ubiquitous state of social media, score-update scrolls on every channel and friends text messages.

Call me crazy but I went with option number two.

I had a game plan, similar to what you might expect from an offensive coordinator prior to a big game.

7:00 p.m.- I went into a social blackout. I turned off the option to receive score updates on my Team Stream app. Then (I don’t know if you knew you could do this) I turned my phone off. Finally, I logged off Twitter and Facebook. I was completely shut off from the world.

7:30 p.m.- My buddy Jason was at the game sitting next to me covering the game for the student newspaper. He is a huge sports fan. I knew he would be following the Cubs game. At one point he motioned over to me with his phone as if to show me a score or highlight. I didn’t look at him. All I did was throw up the stop sign with my right hand. I forgot to mention that a key to pulling off the impossible is to let anyone who might spill the beans know what you’re planning on doing. I failed to do this with one person, and it almost ruined my plan. While broadcasting the game, I wrote on the back of a box score the following, “I’m recording the game at home. Don’t tell me the score. Thanks!” I passed that over to Jason. Crisis averted.

9:20 p.m.- The volleyball game finished up. The Redbirds won a thrilling match in the fifth set. I had to bring our coach back to the media room for the post match press conference. There is a TV in the media room. I was watching the Michigan/Michigan State game in there earlier, which was a great game that had a fantastic, epic fail ending. I did not perceive this as a problem in my original game plan. Well, some of the production guys were watching the Cubs game in there. I could have walked right into a trap and the plan would have failed. I let my friend Adam (who is a Cardinals fan) know what my plan was before the match, so he alerted me to close my eyes before walking in to the media room. A Cardinals fan helped a Cubs fan dodge a bullet. There is still hope for humanity.

10:21 p.m.- I finished all of my responsibilities after the game, and now It was time to go home. I’ve almost made it! On my walk back to my truck, there are a few college frat houses. Knowing this, I start muttering “just make it to your truck. Just make it to your truck,” over and over like a crazy person. I didn’t want to hear anyone cheering or freaking out about the game. The Cubs game started at 7:07 p.m., so at 10:21 the game would be wrapping up right around this time. I made it to my truck! The finish line was in sight.

10:30 p.m.- On my five-minute ride home, I went over the last few steps to completing the plan. There was really only one, turn the TV on and go to the recording. But I realized that the last thing I was watching was the Michigan/Michigan State game, which was on ESPN. In case you don’t know, ESPN runs a score-update scroll at all times, even during commercials. As dorky as this may sound, my plan was to turn my phone back on (very dangerous), plug headphones in and blare music so I wouldn’t be able to hear a score update once I turned the on the TV. I felt like Ted Mosby in the Super Bowl episode of How I Met Your Mother. I turned on the TV with one eye closed, there was some garbage college football game on ESPN. I went to my recordings and clicked Cubs/Mets. I did it! Streamers should have fallen from my ceiling. “We Are the Champions” should have been playing through my speakers. I wanted to scream like Kevin Garnett after the Celtics beat my beloved Lakers in the ’08 Finals, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”

1:06 a.m.- Daniel Murphy makes a diving stab and throws out Tommy La Stella for the final out of the game. Mets 4, Cubs 2.

The outcome wasn’t what I wanted, but I was able to completely watch the Cubs game as if it were live. I experienced all of the same emotions that the fans who watch it live experienced. I cheered when Starlin Castro drilled a ball over Juan Lagares’ head in center field to score Anthony Rizzo and tie the game at 1-1. I cursed at my TV when Jon Lester served up a meat ball to Curtis Granderson on an 0-2 pitch with runners on first and second. I questioned Joe Maddon’s decision to bring Lester back out for the seventh inning. Lester gave up an insurance run in the inning, 4-1 Mets. Kyle “Babe” Schwarber hit yet another bomb to right field, 459 feet to be exact (the longest homer of the postseason).

Watching the game in this fashion does have its negatives. You don’t get that social viewing experience, where you’re checking Twitter to see what everyone is saying about the game. While watching the game, you know that one fan base is already on cloud nine and the other feels like the world is coming to an end, you just don’t know what fate awaits you.

So even though the Cubs lost, I still took home a moral victory in knowing that it is still possible to tape delay a game. If you ever run into a predicament similar to mine, you now have the blueprint to pulling off the seemingly impossible.

  1. Record the game. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but this is a very important step.
  2. Alert anyone who might tell you the score to what your plan is before the game starts. Avoid all assholes who might seek schadenfreude from ruining your plan.
  3. Invest in noise cancelling headphones and those sun glasses that old people wear. You know the ones that block light from entering your eyes at all angles.
  4. Turn off your phone. Yes, it is possible.

Some final inspiration from Rob Schneider’s character in Water Boy:

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