Opinion

What Lies Ahead for the Chicago Cubs, World Series Champions

Lisa Hank | The PHOENIX

Like all Cubs fans, I am over-the-moon about Chicago’s North Siders right now.

I’ve been watching and listening to Cubs games for as long as I can remember, and the love that I have for that team spans several generations in my family.

Now, for the first time in 108 years, they’re World Champions again. Finally.

Despite the numerous tears of joy I’ve shed over this fact, I’m haunted by one question. It’s a question I heard a Fox Sports 1 reporter ask a Cubs fan before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NCLS) on Oct. 22: “If we win it all, what will we do then?”

I find myself intimidated by that question and scrambling for an answer.

I think it’s safe to say every American baseball fan knows the tragic story of the Chicago Cubs franchise.

They’re familiar with the die-hard fans that rooted year after year for an allegedly “cursed” team that had gone more than a century without a World Series win and 71 years without an NLCS pennant.

And yet, the Cubs are the fifth most valued baseball franchise, at $2.2 billion as of March 2016, according to Forbes Magazine.

That number has undoubtedly skyrocketed since Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 2.

For some reason, Cubs fans are unlike other baseball fans (except possibly Boston Red Sox fans) because we have cheered for the uncheerable, hoped against all hope and lived by a regularly repeated, somewhat pitiful mantra: “Maybe next year.”

With such a melodramatic and grim culture, it was hard to imagine there was potential to be a truly happy Cubs fan.

Not anymore.

When the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland after 10 innings and a 17-minute rain delay, they fulfilled 108 years of hopes, dreams and fantasies for millions of fans. The moment first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught the final out, I felt an emotion I had never experienced before.

It’s an emotion few living Cubs fans have felt and one we have longed to experience for 108 years: The pride in knowing that our favorite baseball players are finally World Champions.

And yet, I must admit that it is still difficult to comprehend the sentence, “The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.”

There’s a reason I’m struggling to wrap my head around it — the essence of being a Cubs fan is hoping for the seemingly impossible.

Cubs fans’ loyalty and unfailing faith in our team is what makes us who we are. Through thick and thin — usually very thin — we have proudly worn our memorabilia and waved our “W” flags high.

As much as we Cubs fans wanted our undying support to pay off, I’m sure many of us never expected the Cubs to even make it to the World Series again. If I’m being honest, I never expected it.

But we cheered, waved, hoped and dreamed nonetheless.

Now, here we are, with the longest victory drought in the history of American sports history being over. As happy as we Cubs fans are, we’re somewhat uncertain about what to do with ourselves.

If the Cubs had finished second to the Cleveland Indians, Cubs fans would have still been immeasurably proud, but there would have been tears. Wrigleyville would have fallen silent.

Once again, geriatric fans who have cheered on this team for more than half a century would have smiled, but those smiles would have been forced.

Once again, we would have said, “Maybe next year.”

But now, everything’s changed.

The Cubs still claim ownership of the longest World Series victory drought in baseball history; generations of fans still lived through a full century of heartbreak and shattered hope. We still carry bittersweet memories of family members who never lived to see the day their favorite baseball team won it all.

But, our ultimate goal has been met. Lifetimes of stubbornly optimistic support have finally paid off in the most glorious way possible. And now, what it means to be a Cubs fan has been forever altered.

What will be the new role for Cubs fans? Now that we’re champions, what more can we hope for?

Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer those questions.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of possible responses to the question, “If we win it all, what will we do then?”

I think the response that aforementioned Cubs fan gave the Fox Sports reporter is probably my favorite one, though: “We’ll just have to win again next year.”

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