Where do I begin?
Let’s start with what I know.
I know it’s late, just after 3:00 am in Cleveland as I start this.
I know I’m soaked. A result of hanging out in the stadium to watch the post-game festivities even as hard rain began to fall — reaching my arms to the sky and embracing the rain. Letting it wash away 108 years of failure.
And I know the Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.
A four-and-a-half hour game that had everything you could hope for, unfolding into one of the most dramatic recent sporting events on record.
And just when it looked like the Cubs were going to fall to heartbreak yet again, they finally put it away and won that elusive title.
What a night.
The hit parade
I knew it was going to be an unusual game when Dexter Fowler led off with a home run off of Corey Kluber, the Indians ace who had (until tonight) completely shut down the Cubs’ bats.
In fact, the Cubs finally did what no one else had been able to do all postseason: they hit Kluber and star reliever Andrew Miller, scoring six runs off the pair over six innings, to hold a 6-3 lead, a lead that held into the bottom of the eighth.
Home runs by Javy Baez and the retiring David Ross put exclamation points on what should have been a breeze to the title. Just a few finishing touches to end the drought. Everything that I worried would go wrong was going right.
It was a best case scenario!
It seemed almost too easy.
It’s never easy
And that’s when it all fell apart. When Cleveland’s Rajai Davis homered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth — just four outs from the Cubs winning — Progressive Stadium exploded in joy, tens of thousands of fans around me jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their lungs.
As improbable as the Cubs’ comeback to force Game 7 was, this comeback felt even greater. A potentially back-breaking moment that completely tipped the game on its head. For a moment, it felt like it was all going to slip away.
Not like this
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) November 3, 2016
And then it got even weirder when, heading to extra innings, there was a rain delay that stopped the game for nearly 20 minutes and when it all started again, we had gone from Wednesday Nov. 2 to the wee hours of Thursday, Nov. 3.
What began as torture had evolved into agony. The game was never going to end and I was going to die.
Redemption and elation
In the 10th inning, series MVP Ben Zobrist delivered the entire Cubdom from despair into ecstasy with his two-run double, to put the Cubs on top for good.
After a little unnecessary drama in the bottom of the 10th, the Cubs finally shut the door on Cleveland, an incredible World Series comeback.
And in section 548, at the top of the stadium, I screamed, I jumped, I doubled over, I welled up, and I hugged every stranger in a Cubs shirt or hat I could find. And there were a lot of us.
On the field below, the players were celebrating and on the jumobtron, words of congratulations unfurled.
We stood on the center field wall, watching the players celebrate, listening to the thousands of Cubs fans in attendance roar their approval. Even Cleveland police officers, there to keep the peace, took photos for fans.
It began pouring rain in sheets, and no one cared. Cubs fans stood their ground and cheered and sang and pretended like it was nothing.
I’m still not sure any of this is real.
In fact, I may just not go to sleep tonight. My clothes are starting to dry out, and I have to work again in a few hours anyway. Plus I’m still amped from everything that unfolded.
But mostly, I’m just scared to go to sleep because I don’t want to wake up and have this all be a dream.
The Bill Murray scale of World Series anxiety
It’s over. It’s all over and the Cubs are champs. After one of the most epic sporting events of my lifetime, we’re at “2016 World Series celebration Bill Murray” — because what else would we be?
The Cubs are World Series champions.