The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series.

The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series.

The goat-cursed, “maybe next year,” “maybe before I die” Chicago Cubs are in the World Series.

World War II had ended the month prior, African Americans and Hispanics were not allowed to play baseball, and the man who invented the internet wasn’t born yet. All of this occurred within the past 71 years, and yet there was not a single World Series appearance from the Chicago Cubs.

From the Curse of the Billy Goat in 1945 to the Buckner incident and the notorious Bartman cataclysm, the Cubs and their fans have had their fair share of bad karma, but the worst seems to be in the past.

The world changed on Saturday night. Chicago changed on Saturday night. Madison, Wisconsin changed on Saturday night. I changed on Saturday night.

Sitting on the floor of my room watching the game on my laptop a whole 142.9 miles away from the game, I desperately gripped my pillow trying to channel my 19 years of “maybe next year,” “maybe before my parents die,” and “maybe before I die,” into something else.

It was the top of the ninth, the Cubs up 5-0. One out. Chapman pitching against Ruiz.

Ball one, high.

-Deep breath.

Strike one, inside.

-Remember to exhale.

Ball two, low and outside.

-Is the ump blind?

Ball three, high and inside.

-I can’t feel my fingers, my knuckles are turning white from giving this pillow the death-grip.

Foul ball to the left field seats. THE left field seats. The Bartman seats.

-The baseball Gods are testing me. I need to take a lap so I don’t punch this computer screen.

Full count, and another foul towards left. Then, a walk.

-All of that anxiety for a walk?

Ruiz takes his base, and Puig steps up to the plate.

Man on first, and a bouncing grounder to short on the first pitch.

Life stops.

In slow-motion, Russell tosses the ball to Baez at second. Two outs.

“TURN IT TURN IT TURN IT,” I scream jumping up and down as the play continues, pillow glued to my chest, knowing that somehow Baez can hear me through my tiny screen.

Baez turns it to Rizzo at first.

Three outs. Clinched.


World Series-bound

Collapsed on my floor, sobbing into my pillow, with my roommate from Yonkers, New York looking at me quizzically, unsure of how to handle my emotional state: this is what the World Series looks like. Gasping for air, trying to find a way to say you’re not dying, but not being able to describe in words how extraordinarily happy and relieved you truly are, using tears as the only way to even remotely convey what it feels like to have the burden of 71 bad years lifted off of your shoulders.

This is triumph. This is faith. This is perseverance. This is the curse lifted. This is next year.

This is baseball.

There is no right way to react, there is no way to celebrate, there is no way to put into words the feeling of 71 years of history being thrown out of the window, a fresh start and a new beginning for an organization that has always been the one expected to fail, and praised if they do anything beyond that.

For a second, it was as though I was in Chicago celebrating and sharing in the collective victory screech heard across the nation.

But, there I was, in Madison, Wisconsin, 142.9 miles away, celebrating among the masses of Sconnies secretly wishing it was their Brewers instead of my Cubs who were moving on, but nonetheless showing their support and love for a hysterical Cubs fan.

For the Sconnies, it didn’t matter that they were not fans of the Cubs. There was a silent understanding of the implications of this Game 6 victory on that Saturday night. The world of baseball would never be the same, and we were all experiencing an important part of history together.

The Cubs would no longer be regarded as the “maybe next year” team. They wouldn’t be seen as the “maybe before I die” team. They’d be the team to change the course of history and break the curses, the bad karma, and the silly superstitions that all Cubs fans live with and work against. They are the team, and there is a general understanding that this may be the year.

The nation changed on Saturday night, and everyone felt it.

“Sure as God made green apples, someday the Chicago Cubs are gonna be in the World Series. That may be sooner than we think.”

Harry Caray, 1991.

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