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posted: 9/23/2017 2:00 PM

The most important story we'll ever cover. Until tomorrow.

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As Cubs TV analyst Jim Deshaies put it: "This is the most important game of the year ... until tomorrow."

The comment came during Thursday's first game of a crucial series with the Milwaukee Brewers as the Cubs battle to win their division and, of course, repeat as World Series champs.

Deshaies was right: In the heat of battle, the crisis before us seems the most crucial, the most dramatic ever. Which is why I hesitate to say: Has there ever been more dramatic and significant news swirling about than that of the past few weeks?

Natural disasters? A researcher told The Washington Post that of all Category 5 hurricane landfalls on record since 1851, a quarter of them have occurred this season (with the caveat that hurricane tracking was much more difficult before weather satellites came into play in the late 1960s). And because these landfalls are so close to home -- Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, other Caribbean islands -- their impact is striking. Virtually everyone knows someone directly affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria. Our own Robert Sanchez, an assistant city editor, has family in Puerto Rico, including his father. Everyone is OK, Robert says, but there's "a ton of damage."

A particularly compelling tale comes in Elena Ferrarin's story on Saturday about Ivelisse Robles of Cary, a bilingual assistant at McHenry High School, who after two days received word that her parents, also in Puerto Rico, survived. Not as lucky was Marilia Gutierrez, an employee of Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, who hadn't heard from her mother or sister as of Friday. "It's agonizing," she told Elena.

And, as always, suburbanites were rallying to help. One social club in Elgin bought pallets of water; an Elgin restaurant owner was planning take a generator to his siblings in Puerto Rico.

Then there was the earthquake that devastated Mexico City, which we've come to learn has the type of soil that makes quakes much more prone to cause damage, such as the scores of buildings that literally crumbled.

Paling by comparison, but noteworthy, is our oppressive September heat. (When was the last time you said "oppressive," "heat" and "September" in the same sentence?)

How about the world inching closer to some type of horrific conflict, as evidenced by the War of Words between the alleged "dotard" leading the U.S. and the Rocket Man of North Korea?

Politics? Obamacare repeal and replace bites the dust again, and no one is happy about the state of health care reform.

The armageddon, politics and natural disaster are huge national stories, but we've also been covering a huge local story, the Wheaton College hazing scandal. It's been among our top-read online stories all week. Hazing, of course, isn't new to college campuses, even our high schools, but the seriousness of the felony charges -- aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint -- approaches an unprecedented level. And all of it allegedly taking place at a conservative Christian college in historically Christian and conservative Wheaton adds another layer of interest.

Amid all this, the day-to-day local news continues to unfold, even in Wheaton. There, a tiff occurred over a sign on the door of a downtown building that said its former occupant, a restaurant, had "moved back to Vietnam." Fact of the matter is, the restaurant had moved across the street, and some took great umbrage at the sign. Most important story in the world? Of course not, but, again, one that drew all sorts of online traffic.

I think such stories are a necessary break from the sometimes soul-crushing sadness and misery going on in the world today.

That also might explain why we need our baseball. When I got home Thursday after a long day, rooting for the Cubs was the most important thing, a dramatic shift from worrying about the news of Wheaton and the world.

So, when we return to work on Monday, the Cubs will have clinched or still be in first place. And something else will move to the front of the line as the most important story of the day.

Until tomorrow.

jdavis@dailyherald.com

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