For over a century, Cubs fans have been gathering on the corner of Addison and Clark to commiserate over their cruel fate. Their pain has been a slow burn, playing out in play-hooky afternoons and — since 1988 — nights cooled by the lake breeze. There was always a subtle irony to Wrigley Field, the long untouched relic from a simpler time. How could something so beautiful be so sad?
For more than a century, Cubs fans rediscovered then stifled then rediscovered hope. The dance was always the same. It always ended with the home team stumbling. Over time, they learned to function with an omnipresent low-grade level of existential dread coursing through their veins.
That heavy burden was lifted last fall as Joe Maddon’s team did the impossible. They were reborn. They shed the lovable losers label. Fans gathered at the corner of Addison and Clark on Monday night with a newfound joy in their hearts, as a party to something other than inevitable disappointment. The energy is forever changed.
When Anthony Rizzo emerged with the World Series trophy held high above his head in the damp air with the crowd going wild, it banished the final scraps of old energy from the building. There have been many surreal moments since the curse was lifted, but perhaps this was the most spellbinding.
Wrigley itself was reborn. This is real. This is somehow real.
Back to the Future was a year off but was perhaps more prophetic than once thought. Cubs fans returning to Wrigley now get the full Marty McFly experience. When they step off the Red Line at Addison and walk through those old turnstiles, they are shocked at how much has changed. From the trappings — two gigantic video boards and advertising — to the stuff that matters, like the championship flags raised Monday night.
It must be disorienting. Where am I? What are all those zeros doing up there?
They see a team on the field that is 180 degrees from a plucky underdog. They see talent and versatility at every position. They see fearless winners waiting for the next good thing to happen as opposed to the next shoe to stomp out hope.
Rizzo clutching that trophy was a visual reminder that now, for the first time in 109 years, the championship runs through the North Side. Some other team will have to pry the hardware out of the Cubs’ strong and determined hands.
Part of Monday night’s magic was the knowledge that it might not be a one-off. After suffering so much, the Cubs could be in the early stages of a dynasty. It is fitting that the Eamus Catuli sign has been reset. It’s a brand new world.