By Peyton Fine
When the World Series ends, let the party begin
“Pigs have flown, hell has frozen over, the Saints are on their way to the Super Bowl!!” When Garrett Hartley’s game-winning kick sailed through the uprights to send the New Orleans Saints into the 2010 Super Bowl, a long-time radio commentator for the team reacted with that quote. The jubilation in his voice was something that still today sends chills up my spine. The Saints for years were the laughing-stock of the entire NFL. At times, it got so bad that fans would arrive to games with bags on their heads to hide the shame they felt for cheering for such a bad team. For my entire lifetime as a sports fan, the Saints struggled. It was as predictable as death and taxes.
When the Saints won the Super Bowl in their next game, it really did feel like pigs were flying. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that I would never have the pleasure of seeing the Saints wins a Super Bowl. And, I had only dealt with this personal hell of losing for 15 years. Older fans had lived with this for over 40 years. Their reaction to the Saints win was not simply celebratory; it was cathartic. All of the boneheaded mistakes, coaching missteps, and general mediocrity were finally thrown by the wayside, so people could party. The victory parade for the triumphant Saints was attended by over 2 million people, which is especially impressive considering the population of New Orleans has struggled to break a half million people after Katrina.
The reason I relate this story is that the Chicago Cubs for the first time in over 100 years have a chance to end the personal hell felt by their fans. The Cubs have not won a World Series title since 1908 and have not even made it to a World Series since 1945. Almost three full generations of Cubs fans have lived without tasting anything close to victory, and no living fan has seen the Cubs win a championship. Can you imagine the jubilation that Cubs fans would feel if they won? No one really can. I recently asked a friend from Chicago what a Cubs World Series would look like, and he simply said, “I may not be able to go back home. The party could destroy the entire city.”
But, the Cubs are not the only underdog story of the MLB postseason. All four of the teams remaining in the postseason are historically bottom-dwellers. The Mets have not won the World Series in over 30 years, and the Royals had not made the playoffs for 30 years until last year. The Royals’ opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, are playing in the postseason for the first time in 20 years. In a normal playoff series, the underdog is easy to spot, but this year, every team can be labeled as the “lovable loser.” All of these teams could be in for a Saints-esque celebration by the end of October.
Going back to the Cubs, I am a fan of theirs. I am biased when I say that I think the Cubs’ fans deserve this title more than any other team, and I am also probably too optimistic when I say that they will ultimately win a championship soon. But, unlike past years where a Cubs World Series seemed like the dream of a hopeless romantic, this Cubs team looks like they have even better chances in future years. The Cubs have started four rookies routinely throughout the playoffs and set records in baseball for the youngest team to make the playoffs. The Cubs have literally rebuilt themselves from the ground up with a new owner, stadium upgrades, new manager, and the aforementioned crop of new, young players. Even if the Cubs do not win the championship this year, hope will be restored to Wrigleyville.
Most times, just thinking about one of my favorite teams losing would make me crazy, but this year is just different, and not just for the Cubs. As a sports fan who suffered through losing season after losing season, I know what each of these fan bases has gone through in the last 20, 30 or in the Cubs’ case 100 years. All of them deserve victories. No child should have to grow up only watching powerhouses like the Yankees or Cardinals win titles. It’s time for the losers to finally become winners, and when it happens, I hope they can listen to those same wonderful words, “Hell has frozen over, and pigs have flown.” Then, let the party begin.
Peyton Fine ’17 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a passionate Cubs fan desperately hoping for a miraculous end to this postseason, but even if it does not arrive for the Cubs, he knows the cathartic jubilation that one fan base will surely feel after the World Series.