108 years came down to one single out in the tenth inning of World Series game 7 on November 2, 2016. 108 years since the Chicago Cubs clinched the title. 108 years of waiting. One. More. Out.
I was standing in my driveway, looking up at the partly cloudy night sky during that nail-biting tenth inning. My whole family, stuffed inside the friendly confines of our living room in Cardinal-rich Springfield, Missouri, had been on the verge of catastrophic breakdown for the past half hour, and I finally decided I couldn’t take the stress anymore. So, outside I went. Into the fresh, crisp Springfield air, wondering how many neighbors were thinking I was insane for pacing in the driveway. It was eerily quiet, and I tried to steady my breathing while I waited for the screams from inside–whether they would be of joy or disappointment–I did not yet know.
Imagine the phrase, “The calm before the storm.” What comes to mind for you? For me, I’m taken back to my early years in All-Star cheerleading, when my team huddled together, as a mass of hairspray, and rhinestones, and glitter, before the awards announcements. It always seemed, in that moment, that we all breathed as one being. Hands intertwined, occasionally passing a little squeeze around the circle, we listened. Fourth place. Third place. Second place.
In the times that our name had not yet been called, it was in the moment that the second place team’s name was called that I felt it. The calm.
Everything goes quiet. The world around you slows down. You wait. The group takes one final simultaneous breath. Inhale. Exhale.
Boom. First place is announced, and the storm hits. In my case, it was always an epidemic of jumping, hugging, stepping on feet, crying, screaming, and a blaring rendition of “We are the Champions.” It was chaos, but, man, was it beautiful.
Pan back to my driveway at approximately 11:47PM on November 2, 2016. I’m standing there, looking up at the clouds and the faint light of the stars when I hear it. A sharp, audible gasp from the inside of my house. In a split second I’m running, almost slipping in my socked-feet, through the garage, throwing open the storm door and making a beeline for the living room.
It was the calm before the storm.
As soon as I entered the living room I saw the play that ended that 108-year drought. Kris Bryant made an effortless throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base, and they knew it. When the ball hit Rizzo’s glove, the breath the whole country was holding was finally exhaled. That breath turned into shouts of joy at my house. Those shouts turned to tears, and those tears turned into laughs of disbelief. They had done it. The Chicago Cubs were World Series champions for the first time since 1908.
Moments like those come by scarcely in a lifetime, and I am still in shock that I was able to witness such an important moment in history. I truly will never forget it.
But, the aspect of the storm that I enjoyed the most was watching my dad and my brother, who have never once lost hope for their boys, revel in this victory. There’s a special type of loyalty in being a Cubs fan, and those two men have never faltered in it.
“Someday” is today, Cubs fans. They did it.