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Nov. 8, 2016

Beyond Wrigley Field

The Cubs’ win is to be shared amongst casual and diehard fans alike.

Our live stream lagged behind our neighbors’, so every time something exciting or devastating happened, we heard their reactions across the street before we actually saw it. Lots of excited cheering usually meant the Cubs earned a base hit or got the batter out, depending on whether we were at bat or in the field. When cheering was accompanied by excessive “Woo’s!” and intermittent car honking, we scored. (And we so desperately wanted to hear this after the score was tied 6–6 in the bottom of the eighth.) “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” or “Come onnnnnn,” (interspersed with many “booooo’s!”) signaled that we had probably messed up.

Right before midnight, after five hours of nail biting and absolute incredulity (“How did they mess up a 3-point lead?”) the entire block erupted in celebration. Broadway Street welcomed a mass exodus to Wrigley Field—everyone started piling out of their front doors, and car horns honked continuously. We couldn’t peel our eyes from the screen. They won, but what happened? Montgomery was on the mound with the Cubs at the bottom of the tenth inning, with a score of 8–7 against the Cleveland Indians. The Indians, with two outs, had Michael Martinez at bat with zero balls and one strike. And then, at lightning speed, as he swung at his second pitch, Martinez hit the ball in field, Bryant ran for it and threw it to Rizzo at first base, the Indians conceded their third out, and fin. The Cubs won the World Series. 

“That’s it! That’s it! We’ve won. We gotta go.” We watched the entire game in a corner third-floor apartment in Boystown, a 10-minute walk from Wrigley Field. I threw on my Rizzo jersey and bolted down the stairs. Fans crowded the streets: screaming, running, or screaming and running to Wrigley Field, even though we won in Cleveland. We strategized: All we needed to do was run four blocks north up Broadway and five or six blocks west on Addison, but the closer we got, the harder it was to move. We zig-zagged through the crowd holding hands. The most enthusiastic fans were climbing street lights and stop signs, and standing on the roofs of cars and buildings, and we held up beer cans and W flags and shouted at the top of our lungs, “Go Cubs go! Go Cubs go! Hey Chicago, whaddya say? The Cubs are gonna win today?” over and over until we were out of breath. 

When Wrigley Field’s marquee sign flipped to announce “CUBS WIN,” the immediate joy, whether celebrated by cheering, crying, honking horns, or popping a bottle of champagne, knew no bounds. We celebrate in honor of fans’ loved ones who never had the chance to witness the Cubs win it all. We celebrate in honor of the players, like David Ross, who scored a home run in his last ever professional game of baseball, and Anthony Rizzo, who defeated cancer less than 10 years ago. We even celebrate bandwagoners who never previously understood the unifying power that has always been characteristic of the Cubs. 

On Saturday night, nearly half the audience at a Young the Giant concert was decorated in red, white, and blue. Interspersed throughout the crowd, Rizzos and Bryants weren’t shouting at a ball game but belting the lyrics to “My Body,” and once everyone started exiting the venue, someone started a never-ending repetition of the victory song. Shouts of “Go, Cubs, Go!” filled Aragon Ballroom. Our team had won the World Series and created a unifying identity that extended far beyond just baseball. 

Growing up near Chicago, I repeatedly heard, “We’ll get ’em next year!” from the die-hard fans. I didn’t grow up with a love of sports, but my cousin took me to my first ever ball game at Wrigley Field in the summer of 2012. For my senior year post-prom celebration, my best friends and I watched the Cubs take on the Cardinals. I have hardly watched enough Cubs games to call myself a devoted fan, but they’ve always been my go-to team. 

The Cubs’ victory represents more than the end to a 108-year-long drought. On Wednesday night, the entire city watched, listened, or screamed in the stands. I jumped in an Uber heading downtown right before the start of the game, and Betty, assuming I wasn’t from the city, apologized when she turned on the game: “I’m sorry, but this is really important for us Chicagoans.” When I pointed to the Cubs logo on my jersey, she turned around, dipped her hat down to point at the Cubs’ logo, and asked, almost pleadingly, “So, do you really think they’ve got a shot?” Throughout the National League Championship Series and the World Series, whenever people asked, “So are you watching the game tonight?” I immediately knew what they were referring to.

So don’t lambast the bandwagon, fair-weather fans for hopping on the victory train and sharing in the celebration late in the game. Cubs fans are rejuvenated, and their positive energy permeates the city, encouraging other people to get involved. This team represents a certain sense of inclusivity, dissuading us from shaming the fans who just now decided to root for the Cubs. This win is not just for diehard Cubbies—it is for the city itself.

Brooke White is a third-year in the College majoring in public policy.

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