My Final Chapman Cubs Memories

On November 4th of 2016, we Cubs fans were still floating on air. The epic Game 7 battle with Cleveland was over, and we came out on top for a change. As Eddie Vedder had once prophesied, we had indeed gone all the way.

The victory parade that followed was the official celebration, the culmination of everything we had dreamed about. The post-game celebration hangovers had worn off, and this was the time to see the hardware with our own eyes. To borrow a word from the younger crowd, it was going to be lit.

The parade was scheduled to leave Wrigley Field at 10 AM, head east down Addison Street
toward Lake Shore Drive, and wind its way south toward Grant Park. I thus planned to take in the parade in Addison, near my old stomping grounds from the days of Sammy Sosa and the second coming of Ryne Sandberg. The weather was perfect, even a bit warm for November in Chicago, and I was not going to miss the celebration for anything.

I arrived at the Addison red line stop around 9:30, and made my way east on Addison toward Halsted. Pennants, beads, and all manner of Cubs gear was available, and the scene was somewhat reminiscent of St. Patrick's Day, if the green were replaced with dark blue instead.

The city had even dyed the river blue, to commemorate the title we had waited so long to see. I found a spot along the metal barricades that had been set up along the parade route. I began making small talk with the people around me, sharing stories about where we had watched the game, what games we had been to along the way, how long we had been Cubs fans, all things Cubs, really. When you’re on top of the world, you may as well enjoy the vibe going around.

I was in front of a closed-off parking garage for the police station at Addison and Halsted, with the bizarre lights above street level. Some people went up into the upper levels before the parade, but I wanted to be there, up close, for the best experience I could get. Everyone along the parade route wanted the same thing, I’m sure.

As the time of the parade was getting close, somewhere around ten minutes to ten, a police escort raced west on Addison Street. Behind the unmarked police car with flashing lights came a souped-up grey car with a Florida license plate. From the passenger’s side of the came a wave, and we were pleased to get a pre-parade glimpse of what several people claimed was Aroldis Chapman.

A debate quickly ensued as to whether he was a hero, based on his 8-out performance in Game 5 at Wrigley Field and his successful navigation of the 9th inning of Game 7, or a goat, based on surrendering the game-tying home run to Rajai Davis in the 8th inning of Game 7. There were some bats in the Cleveland lineup that might be expected to deliver a big hit, but not Rajai Davis, who was hitless in both rounds of the American League playoffs, and was hitting .150 in the World Series when he stepped in against Chapman in the 8th inning of Game 7. That guy must never be allowed to beat the Cubs’ 104-miles- per-hour closer.

The team buses did not leave Wrigley Field at 10 AM, as planned. Instead they were taking
team pictures on the field, and savoring the moment they had worked for all season long. They were smelling the roses, as we would all do in their situation.

At about 20 minutes past 10, a young girl in a pink Cubs shirt sitting on her father’s shoulders asked where the players were, and his response was perfect: “We’ve waited for 108 years for this, we can wait a few more minutes.” I’ve actually used that in conversation a couple of times, so thanks for that, O Wise Cubs Dad.

The buses finally left the ballpark, a half hour or so behind schedule, and those of us who had waited were rewarded with views of Rizzo and Schwarber and Fowler and, of course, the Commissioner’s Trophy. It felt like it was over before it started but it was as glorious a sight as I have seen, in four decades as a Cubs fan.

Now that Chapman has signed with the New York Yankees for five years and $86 million, his
role as a short term rental has been made complete. He won a ring in Chicago, and we’ll always be grateful to him for making that happen. But what about stretching out that moment on Addison Street, while also compressing it just a little bit as the team played catch-up on its way to Michigan Avenue? That depends on your perspective, I suppose. But at least the story can now be told.