CHICAGO – Five days ago, and three games before the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series after 108 years, Wrigleyville was keyed up waiting for Game 4 of the series to begin. At 10 a.m, fans were already milling around Wrigley deciding on the best bar to wait in line for or grabbing new World Series-branded shirts from the packed-to-the-gills sporting good stores peppered around the stadium.
There was a feeling in the air like everybody knew that the team was only a few mistakes away from being relegated once more to “wait until next year” and “someday it will happen.” That pressure didn’t mean the beer wouldn’t flow and the bars wouldn’t be louder than ever for twelve-plus hours, but it did mean that underneath all of the fun and the excitement and the chanting there was an unmistakable presence of permanent melancholy.
Now, that sadness is gone. Forever.
With one of the most stressful yet amazing Game 7’s in World Series history — including a rain delay right before extra innings, more home runs than could possibly be anticipated in the final game of the series, and at points some very questionable lineup choices and even more questionable infield play — Cubs fans can finally be happy without any weight on their shoulders. All season, there has been a palpable worry rippling underneath the promise of this talented team. What if this isn’t actually the year? What if we’re going to tell our kids the same stories our parents told us and 108 years turns into 128 or more and there really is no end to the madness?
But there was an end. It’s over. With a flick of the wrist from Kris Bryant, smiling from the moment he saw the ball coming his way, the final out was recorded on the 2016 baseball season. All was finally right in Wrigleyville.
It was finally right for every fan who waited in lines for hours on end every day of the playoffs just so that they could experience a microcosm of the atmosphere inside the park. For the college kids who drove five hours starting at 6 a.m. just to say they were close to Cubs home base (earlier than any college kid has been known to get up on a Saturday ever). And for the people of all ages who flew in from all over the country for a day or less to say the same, because fervent fandom doesn’t fade with age and neither do insane ideas of weekend fun.