People hugging and high-fiving random people.
And people are wandering Chicago streets with tears in their eyes that their lifelong dream had finally become a reality.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.
As I traveled through the city this morning, I saw fans hugging, yelling, crying, many of them wishing that a dead family member could be alive to see the Cubs reach the mountaintop.
I also saw a group of fans tear down stop signs and trample people.
When the Indians tied the game up toward the end, I tweeted that I was watching an ESPN 30-for-30 to be named later. Either the Cubs were going to have an all too familiar meltdown, or push through. After all, the team is basically a bunch of 20-somethings who were too young to care about curses. Past Cubs teams may have let the fact that the Indians got back into the game get into their heads.
I won’t turn this column into a familiar narrative of how a sports championship can uplift a city, or community that continues to struggle with heart-breaking violence. However, celebrating a historic moment, while keeping in mind our cities’ problems doesn’t make someone a wet blanket, it makes them a critical thinker.
They can mention that during the World Series that 17 people were killed and another 60 were wounded in shootings across the city last weekend. They can feel awkward that the team’s closer Aroldis Chapman was involved in a domestic violence incident. They can also ask why police resources allowed for so many officers to be in area.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
One could make an argument that when a mostly white fan base celebrates a championship, they are called “revelers” and “fans just having fun,” while activists staging protests all over the country are sometimes referred to as “animals”.
After all, when I saw those Cubs fans walking down the street with a stop sign, with the pole still attached, no one will ask where their parents were, what type of music they listen to, or my personal favorite, “Why are they tearing up their neighborhoods?”
Despite what is going in the Chicago these days, many of the city’s inhabitants are aware what a Cubs World Series championship can mean for the city.
“I'm from the south east side and grew up a Sox fan, so seeing the Cubs on the verge of winning a World Series is pretty astonishing,” said Chicago hip-hop artist The Boy Illinois said. “I feel as though most of the black community of the south side is intrigued by the fact that the city is on the verge of making history in sports, no matter the team. But, for my homies up north [side]and out west [side], they are more so raised as Cubs fans, so they're really in the spirit.”
Even Steve Bartman, an exiled Cubs fan who reached for a foul ball 13 years ago, was welcomed back into the fold by fans on social media even though it wasn’t his fault the Cubs lost the 2003 NLCS. Remember, if the Cubs had won Game 7, we would have never heard of Bartman. When Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. said after the game that Bartman should throw out the first pitch of the 2017 season, I knew that Cub fandom, and its players, had evolved.
And that’s a good thing.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
I can also see what a World Series championship would’ve meant to Cleveland, another Midwestern city that has had its struggles. As much as the national media focus was on the Cubs’ championship drought, the Indians have one of their own. They hadn’t won a World Series since 1948. The Indians did make things interesting towards the end of Game 7 last night. Like the Cavaliers, the Indians are a scrappy team that wasn’t going to lay down.
Also, an Indians World Series victory, after watching LeBron James and the Cavaliers win a championship, would’ve made for a storybook ending for Cleveland sports in 2016.
I wouldn’t be much of a journalist if I didn’t mention the irony of the Cubs overcoming a 3-1 series lead to win the chip, since that is what the Cavaliers did to beat the Warriors earlier this year.
Having said all of this, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will go down as one of the best ball games I have ever seen. If you need evidence of that, look at the amount of sleep-deprived fans who made into work this morning.
They saw their team fly the “W” last night.
Sleep be damned. A Cubs World Series championship is well worth it.