When I started drafting this post, it was still November 1, the night the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series. When I finished writing, however, it was November 2, the one year anniversary of the Cubs’ Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians to win the 2016 World Series.
I’ve included some videos and pictures toward the bottom of the post to send you down memory lane (as if you haven’t been watching these clips since last November anyway) so feel free to skip my wall of text. But, as someone who attended a majority of the Cubs’ games in 2016, I wanted to put some of my own experiences into words.
Ever since I was wee-little Cubs fan, I promised myself I would be in attendance when they finally ended the drought and won the World Series. When they went down 1-2 to the Indians, I knew that if they could mount a comeback, I’d somehow need to end up in Cleveland. And once the Cubs went down 1-3, I understood that it would have to be a heart-wrenching seventh game.
But getting there required a Game 5 victory at Wrigley Field. Watching the Cubs win their first World Series game inside the Friendly Confines in over 70 years with my father by my side remains one of my most cherished memories. Being the superstitious fan that I am, however, I refused to make any plans to attend a potential Game 7 on the road. There was no way I was going to prepare for it until I was positive the Cubs would force the deciding game.
I watched Game 6 with a nervous but hopeful disposition and admittedly started wondering how I could possibly get to Cleveland the next night. Then, Addison Russell blasted a grand slam to put the Cubs up 7-0. The minute that ball landed in the stands of Progressive Field, I picked up the phone and began making arrangements. Tickets secured. Two friends crazy enough to drive with me to Cleveland secured (shoutout to Jay and Jeremy). The plan was set; we were going to Cleveland to watch the Cubs play for it all.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous than the ride from Chicago to Cleveland. For the entire 103-win season to come down to one game, I could hardly wrap my head around the magnitude of it all. It would either be the greatest night of my life or a new low in the Cubs’ history of heartbreak. At last, we arrived in Cleveland, checked into our hotel, and hailed an Uber to take us to Progressive Field. For better or worse, the moment had arrived.
In truth, I remember very few specifics from the actual game. I didn’t really care how the Cubs scored, who was playing hero, or how Joe Maddon was managing the pitching staff. Once the Cubs took the early lead, I was simply counting outs. Even when the Cubs led 5-1, I never had a single thought about them winning, as I knew it couldn’t possibly be that easy.
But, based on how the game was going, I never imagined the Cubs blowing a 6-3 lead with four outs to go. I have often tried to describe the feeling of being in those stands after Rajai Davis tied the game off of Aroldis Chapman, but nothing seems to truly do the feeling justice. I couldn’t fathom that we were all possibly witnessing an even worse ending than any we had suffered before. That stomach-churning feeling lasted until the tarp was being removed after the short rain delay.
I forced myself to recognize that regardless of how we had gotten there, the Cubs were in extra innings with a chance to actually win the World Series. Whether I was ready or not, it was time to just let it play out on the field. Just before play resumed, I whispered to myself the same thing I had before every playoff game. “The Cubs are the best team in the league, they just need to prove it. Play our game and execute. That’s all we can ask. These guys have done it all year”
Schwarber singles. Kris Bryant flies out to deep center, allowing Albert Almora Jr. to tag up to second. Rizzo is intentionally walked. And the rest is history. After Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero put the Cubs up by two in the top half of the 10th, I knew the Cubs were going to win. I simply refused to believe that they would blow another lead.
My friends and I moved to the section behind home plate with some of the Cubs employees, wanting to get a slightly better view of the final outs. Even when the Indians mounted their final comeback effort, I was positive the Cubs were going to win. Mike Montgomery induced a weak grounder from Michael Martinez, Bryant threw him out, and the Cubs had won the World Series. The moment was everything that I had ever dreamed of, and I hope it was for you too.
We made our way behind the Cubs dugout, stood for hours in the pouring rain celebrating with our fellow Cubs fans, and cheered on the players as they went in and out of the dugout. I don’t think I have ever hugged so many strangers in my entire life. We might have even snuck into the Cubs employee party taking place in one of the Progressive Field restaurants.
Steeped in the euphoria of a Cubs World Series win, we wandered the streets of Cleveland until about four in the morning. When we got back to the hotel, I knew I had one final thing to do before the experience could be complete. I had to listen to the one thing I had dreamt of hearing my entire life to that point; I needed to finally hear Pat Hughes calling the final out. I burst into tears and the greatest night of our lives was over.
The 2017 season didn’t pan out like we all hoped, but I think that makes me appreciate 2016 even more. So much has to go right for a team to win a World Series. Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cubs fans will never forget our magical run to a world championship, and, hopefully, we’ll celebrate another one really soon.
The final out (Pat Hughes call)
The final out (Joe Buck call)
Zobrist gives the Cubs the lead in the tenth
Montero adds insurance
Fowler’s leadoff home run
Javy’s solo shot
Ross takes Miller deep
Full Game Seven highlights
Wrigleyville explodes as Cubs win the World Series
Rizzo on the Cubs victory
Ricketts receives the Commissioner’s Trophy
Player introductions at the Cubs Championship rally
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 3, 2016
Hours after the win, in an empty Progressive Field