On Saturday night, the New York Mets will face the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the National League Championship Series. The winner gets to go to the World Series. The loser gets to be depressed for a while.
So far, so normal. However, this being the Mets and the Cubs, there's enough psychological tension running around to make every therapist in America rich for several years.
The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. They haven't reached the World Series since 1945. They are cursed.
The Mets have won more often than that, but every time they win it's always a Super Big Deal thanks to the inevitable presence of an operatically tumultuous cast of characters overcoming something or other to go all the way. Plus, they have to deal with not being the Yankees, so there's that too.
In short, there is a lot of emotional baggage riding on this whole thing. One city will be sent into paroxysms of ecstasy. One city will be driven mad by despair. One city will be able write a new chapter of success. One city will resolutely add another set of names to its list of failures. The notion that it is just a game will be soundly rejected by millions of grieving and/or jubilant people who will not stop feeling things about the situation for years.
The New York tabloids are already running images of dead bears, just to get things started.
Game 1 starts at 8, in New York.