The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.
Those words are still sinking in with me, two days after the Cubs took the Series with a dramatic, extra-inning Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
The Series was especially exciting, since the Cubs had to win three straight games — the last two on the road — to win the best-of-seven playoff.
I grew up in Central Illinois, so it should come as no surprise that I was a Cubs fan ever since I was in the fifth grade — which is when I started following baseball.
By now, most sports fans know that it had been 71 years since the Cubs last appeared in the fall classic and 108 years since they last won it.
Of course, when I was a kid rooting for the Cubs, I had no idea it would be such a long wait.
Back in the days before cable TV, the Cubs’ Sunday games were carried on our local TV station. I would watch faithfully every afternoon on our family’s second TV — complete with rabbit ears, thank you.
In the summer of 1969, the Cubs were leading their division by eight games in mid-August, and it looked as if they were on their way to the playoffs. I could already picture it.
Then along came “the Miracle Mets,” who caught and passed the Cubs and went on to win the World Series.
I was heartbroken, but I kept on rooting for them.
In 1984, the Cubs finally won their division, only to lose to San Diego in five games after leading 2 games to none. Another heartbreak.
Of course, there was the 2003 playoffs, when the Cubs were five outs from going to the World Series and lost the game to the Florida Marlins.
By then, I had moved to Texas and adopted the Rangers as my other favorite baseball team.
Texas made it to the World Series in 2010, losing to the Giants in five games. I was pretty disappointed but still hopeful.
The Rangers came back the next year and went to the Series again. This time they had it won, up 3 games to 2 against the Cardinals, and needing just one more strike to win it all.
Of course, Rangers fans know all too well the rest of that sad story. The Cardinals tied the game to send it into extra innings. Even though the Rangers took the lead again in the 10th inning, the Cards came back and won, forcing a Game 7 — which they won the next night.
I’m still getting over the pain of that one.
But here were my Cubs, coming back from being down 2 games to 1 and winning three straight from the Dodgers to earn a trip to the World Series.
My wife, who also grew up a Cubs fan, was as excited as I was to see the Cubbies make it to the Series for the first time in our lifetimes.
After the Cubs won a tight 3-2 game at Wrigley Field on Sunday night to force Game 6, 45,000 fans — who had been standing for the last three innings — all started singing the Cubs’ anthem, “Go, Cubs, Go!” in unison. Verse after verse they sang, loudly and happily in the chilly Chicago night air.
As the TV cameras panned around the ballpark showing the delirious fans smiling, hugging and singing their hearts out, I got chills.
This was more than just a baseball game. This was history, whether the Cubs won the Series or not. This is what Chicago fans had waited and hungered for, and now it was here.
In Wednesday night’s deciding game, the Cubs took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning, only to see the Indians score three runs to tie the game.
I wanted to quit watching — given the Cubs’ troubling history in big games — but my wife talked me into sticking with it, and two innings later, I was really glad she did.
As we watched the televised celebrations on the field and back in Chicago, we realized that in some small way, our world had changed. For Cubs fans everywhere, it’s a night that won’t soon be forgotten.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor for opinion of the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald.