CHICAGO -- They did it for all of us.
They did it for my grandfather, a lifelong Cubs fan who took deep joy from his Cubbies and who passed it on to his children, to his grandchildren, to his great-grandchildren. And for the countless others who love the Cubs -- and passed that love on -- without ever seeing their team break that supposed, stupid, oh-too-real curse.
They did it for those like him, and for those still here. For the woman near Waveland in the wheelchair with the shirt that said, "Just One Before I Die." They did it for the man behind me as the Cubs secured that final -- and so painfully, until that beautiful moment, elusive -- out. He cried, and hugged his adult son, who in turn hugged his old man back and bellowed, "GO CUBS GO!" with thousands of other fans. A good number of them were crying, too.
They did it for all the families who share as part of their bond a deep connection to the Cubs, like my own. My two children came with me from Los Angeles last week, and my parents from Missouri, and went to their first baseball game together at Game 1 of the NLCS. Don't tell me there's not magic, real magic, in what the Cubs just did. I was holding my four-year-old son when Miguel Montero hit that grand slam, and even typing out this sentence gives me chills.
My brother came in from Brooklyn for Game 2, and he sat with my parents, and watched the Cubs lose. Don't tell me there's not curses, even small ones, for this fan base. My brother's now 0-for-his-last-12 at Cubs games he's attended in person. He's not invited to the World Series, or any Cubs playoff game, ever again. Sorry, Bobby.
And my sister made the last-minute trip in from Missouri on Saturday to watch history, as it turns out, and then stand with thousands in the crowd who refused to leave as the Cubs were presented the on-field trophy, singing with other fans. She texted our family's Cubs chain that somehow Grandpa had orchestrated this from above.
We're not alone, and this Cubs team -- Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, co-series MVPs Jon Lester and Javier Baez, all of them -- did it for all of us who have loved the Cubs together, as families, through so much loss. And, now, through this incredible run.
Cheesy? Over-the-top? Silly. Fine. Keep your cynicism and snark. I'll take what it means to be a Cubs fan over those things. I'll take all the pain that led to what it felt like, too -- check that, feels like -- right now.
This Cubs team did it for a fan base that saw Bartman, as I did in person, and those who sat at home in 2003 or wherever they were and watched their baseball world crash in on itself. And they did do it, this team that is indisputably the greatest in Cubs history: In the ninth inning, with that moment closing in, Yasiel Puig lifted a foul ball toward the left side of the stands -- near, of course, where Bartman had sat 13 years ago. The crowd laughed. You could feel the anxiety and doubt evaporate. Maybe you need to be a Cubs fan, but it was an incredible thing, that reaction.
If there is any justice, I hope they did it for Steve Bartman, too. I hope, if these Cubs win four more, that he is invited to the parade, so that the unfair ugliness foisted on him can finally be lifted.
They did it for a city that hasn't seen its National League team in a World Series since 1945, not until Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians, a city that sang and screamed and drank and laughed and cried just outside the walls of Wrigley Field and beyond it. For miles, one of the world's greatest cities feeling one of its great sensations: relief, joy and shock all rolled together.
Even though this team said, over and over, that they didn't believe in curses or history or what happened before them, well, those they played for certainly did. That pain was real. That history was their own. This team just did all of that, too.
They did it for casual baseball fans bent on the spectacle of the Cubs doing something that hasn't happened in most of our lifetimes, and they did it, surely, for those whose snark or sense of humor hoped for another collapse. Take that, haters.
They did it against the best pitcher on earth, torching him for five runs, four earned, over five grueling innings. The Cubs might have exorcised their own postseason demons, but they did so by transferring a good share them to Clayton Kershaw.
They did it behind and because of Kyle Hendricks, the guy who boasted the best ERA in baseball this season and is a Cy Young Award front-runner but who still got overshadowed in the lead up to his showdown with Kershaw. He answered with 7 1/3 spotless innings and two hits. One hit came on the first pitch he threw, the other on the last.
They did it for baseball, because the Cubs in the World Series is the kind of transcendent experience that really can grow the game, beyond long-suffering Cubs fans like me.
They did it not just at Wrigley, but for Wrigley, too. The Cubs have never won a World Series here, and the friendly confines hasn't played host to one since 1945. She is a beautiful, special place, and worthy of late October baseball.
But most important, and most shocking, is this fact. The one I can't get over. The one that must be true, because long after the game, as I write this, fans remain and Sweet Home Chicago is blaring over the speakers:
They did it.
They really did.