The 2016 Chicago Cubs: More Than Just a Team and a Game

It took 108 years.  Those 108 years included goats, black cats, Bartman and the Chicago Cubs themselves.  After all of those obstacles, the team finally did it and won the grandest title of them all – the World Series.  But this isn’t about the team that came back in the World Series after they were down 3 to 1.  How their backs were against the wall and they managed to turn it all around at the right time.  No, this is about the people outside of the organization.

Let me tell you a couple stories.  So the Cubs finally made it to and won the World Series.  As a lifelong Cubs fan, I thought that was special, and so did my dad.  I grew up playing baseball with him and both us enjoyed watching the Cubs play.  He was at the playoff game in 1984 when the Cubs hit a then record number of home runs in a game, 5, which would be broken by the Cubs last year.  He had tickets to the World Series that year, when all hell broke loose and the Cubs started to remind everybody they were the Cubs.  He never got to use the tickets.

Then there was 2003, four outs away from advancing to the World Series.  My dad and I were watching, I was in fourth grade and my teacher said we wouldn’t have homework the next day if the Cubs won.  Then Bartman happened, and the Cubs couldn’t pull themselves up.  We had homework the next day.

The years rolled by with other promising teams but nobody who could pull it off.  The lovable losers would continue to “try again next year.”  Then 2016 happened, the Cubs became the best team in baseball with 103 wins in the regular season, several astounding comebacks and heart attack provoking games in the playoffs and the Cubs finally made it to the promised land – the World Series.

Now back to the beginning.  This was history being made, and I was happy, but that happiness grew to elation the next day.  My dad and I were talking about the game the day after they made it to the World Series and he said something that hit me right in the heart.  When the Cubs won the series, he teared up.

This made me realize, as good as the Cubs were this year, who knows when or if they will make it again.  This may be the only time my dad and I will ever get to see them in the World Series together.  So I went home and surprised him so we could watch game 4 together.  The Cubs may have lost, but it was special for both of us and, in the end, the Cubs pulled it off.

One more story and then I’ll wrap this up.  After the Cubs won, I still had work the next day and I wanted to show my pride like many other Americans.  So I donned my dad’s 1984 Chicago Cubs National East Champions shirt and went to work, not aware of the conversation I would encounter.

I went in the kitchen to get some water and a coworker walks in, smiles and says she loves my shirt.  From there we recapped the game and then the unexpected happened.  I watched her glance start to leave mine and her eyes to slowly turn glassy.

She told me her uncle, a lifelong Cubs fan, passed away on July 26 after battling illness.  She turned and looked me in the eyes and said some of his last words were that he would never see the Cubs win the World Series.  A sad reality for many loyal Cubs fans in this world and it took everything within me to keep myself composed.

She continued that during the game, after Davis hit the game tying home run in the 8th inning, she couldn’t do it anymore and had to leave the room because it was too much.  Her daughter followed suit and went to listen to the remainder of the game on the radio in her uncle’s car.  I can relate to that as my heart was racing through the entire game.  She said she woke up the next morning to a note from her husband that said, “Cubs won, this one was for him.”

A wave of relief washed over her and as she got in her car to drive to work, she turned on her uncle’s iPod.  Of the 2,000 songs on his iPod, the one song to come on was John Fogerty’s Centerfield.  Anybody who knows the song knows it is about baseball, a sign from above, perhaps?  She is a diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan, but she said that day the Cubs gained a new fan.

I thanked her for sharing such a touching story and we went on with our days, but I just couldn’t shake her story and my dad.  I know others have stories like mine, and I am not saying because I decided to watch game 4 with my dad or because her uncle was up above watching over his beloved Cubs that they won.

What I realized was this postseason and championship was about so much more than just a game or a team.  It was about the moments they created, the closure people received and the hope this championship restored in so many people.