What a rough past few days it’s been for Cubs fans. The end of an era doesn’t quite sum it up. The departures of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez signaled the end of the BEST era in Cubs history. People literally listened to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series in graveyards next to their late great loved ones. That’s how much this team meant to people.
This team, largely centered around these three players, ended a 108-year drought of misery with so many great moments along the way. They did an immeasurable amount of charitable work, including helping so many kids with cancer (particularly Rizzo) and other issues. That’s the type of character they have.
Say what you want about how much money players make nowadays, how it’s only a sport, and how it isn’t that serious. Sure, maybe the money is ridiculous (the owners make way more than they do if you aren’t aware). Maybe it’s not that serious. It is a game, after all. But, tell that to the KIDS who are watching and playing with just as much joy as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez did in a Cubs uniform. Tell that to the kids who were visited in hospitals.
Of course, it wasn’t their decision to leave. The front office traded them. All good things come to an end. They are humans, not gods. But, they gave so many humans across the world so much joy. If you’re going to feel for anything, feel for that. Following the World Series victory, an estimated five million Cubs fans attended the celebratory rally and parade. If that number is correct (there’s debate about that), it was the seventh-largest gathering in human history.
For weeks, I remember telling anyone who would listen that the Cubs won the World Series. Fast-food drive-thru’s included.
As for the players, their legacies are etched in stone. Statues should be built. As sad as it is right now, I am forever grateful to have witnessed it. On November 2, 2016, the impossible happened. Dreams came true. Running throughout Wrigleyville that night in November with close family and friends was one of the best nights of my life. Random strangers felt like family.
To fellow Cubs fans, don’t let outsiders, fans of other teams, or fair-weather fans tarnish the mark these players left. Don’t let people tell you, “they should’ve won more” or “this had to happen, get over it”. You’re allowed to grieve as much as you’re allowed to celebrate victories.
With the upcoming expiring contracts, we knew change was on the horizon. We knew there would be moves coming soon. The part that stings is how unceremoniously this all happened. Rizzo, the captain and original building block, Baez, the human highlight reel and magician, and Bryant, the best and most versatile player of them all, were shipped off before we could send them off properly.
As difficult as this is, we will get through this. We made it through the Steve Bartman game, the Brant Brown days, and numerous Cubs rosters that never stood a chance. Maybe this core group of players will be back in a Cubs uniform sooner than we think? Possibly, as soon as this offseason. Maybe this is the end, and we won’t see much of them until their careers are over and they are throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field and singing the 7th inning stretch?
Whatever the case may be, whatever the future holds, to Bryzzo and El Mago, thank you. Thanks for the joy. Thanks for the memories. Thank you for everything.
Sincerely, Cubs fans everywhere.