“Describe your favorite photograph.”

While I am a casual fan of books of photographs, my actual favorite photograph/picture isn’t found in any book – at least, not any books that I am aware of.

My favorite photograph has been the desktop background of my personal computer for the past three years.  Rather than repeat what many cooking/food related blogs do and share a life story before finally getting to the recipe, I am going to reveal what my favorite photograph is up front, and then share my story behind it.

It is a picture of the iconic red Wrigley Field marquee from the night of November 2nd, 2016, with a very important message displayed on its LED board: “WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS.”

I am passionate about many things in life, with the two highest things being the Incredible Hulk and the Chicago Cubs.  I grew up a Cubs fan thanks to my grandmother, who often babysat me as a child.  Grandma’s way of babysitting was to let me play until the Cubs game started in the afternoon, at which point I was to sit down, be quiet, and watch the game with her on WGN.  Baseball was in my blood as a kid, and I played it as soon as I could; ascending through the ranks each year from T-Ball to C-League to B-League and into Pony (the highest level you could play at while under 18).  Cubs’ fans often say they “bleed Cubbie blue” and that sums up my fandom entirely.  Baseball is still in my blood, and it is Cubbie blue!

I, like millions of Cubs fans, spent a lifetime of suffering while rooting for them to win.  For many, that term is literal: millions lived their lives without ever seeing the Cubs win it all.  For anyone unaware, prior to 2016 the Cubs last won a World Series in 1908.  They went 108 years before finally doing it again!  The longest drought between championships in all of sports!  And people such as my grandmother lived their entire lives without ever seeing it happen.

Grandma was alive and well in 1945, the last time the Cubs made it to the World Series, but they didn’t win that year.  Until 2016, 1945 would be the last time they even made an appearance!

At the risk of sounding like a cliché, the entire 2016 season felt magical as a Cubs fan.  Sure, certain years before then felt the same (1969, 1984, 1998, 2003, etc.) but those all ended in what could only be described as collapses and heartbreak.  2016 however…no Cubs fan ever seemed to get that familiar sense of impending doom.  From Opening Day until the final day of the regular season, it just simply felt like this was it.  It was going to happen!

The Cubs spent all of 2016 as the best team in baseball in terms of wins and statistics.  That is what helped solidify the magic feeling, as teams in the past may have initially felt like they were the best, before wavering and collapsing.  When the playoffs finally arrived and the Cubs were still the best team in baseball (statistically), fans around the world prepared by once again saying “Here we go.”  As in, “it’s time to finally do it” and also “please don’t let another collapse happen.”

The Cubs proceeded to beat the Giants in the NLDS (National League Divisional Series) before meeting up with the Dodgers in the NLCS (National League Championship Series.)  The winner of the NCLS goes on to the World Series.  In the best-of-7 series, the Cubs beat the Dodgers in game six to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945!

That night, while historic for the Cubs and all of their fans, was unfortunately a sad night for me; my Cubs fan grandma passed away before the game was over.  My family and I received the news right around the 6th inning, when the game was still up in the air.  The Cubs finally broke one of their “curses” and grandma didn’t get to see it.  Her funeral was a few days later.

The Cubs and the Cleveland Indians had a historic World Series, going not only seven full games but also into extra innings in the seventh game.

As everyone knows by now, the Cubs won.  As a lifelong fan, finally getting to witness something I never thought would happen, I have to be fully honest in admitting that I still don’t really know what to say about it happening.  I can admit what I said when Kris Bryant fired the final out across the infield to Anthony Rizzo at first base though, and that was me literally jumping up and down screaming “THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! OH MY GOD, THEY FINALLY DID IT!”

I also then broke down crying.  I’m a man; I can admit when I cry!  The Cubs finally winning the World Series brought true tears of joy to my eyes.  Tears of joy mixed with tears of sadness because grandma didn’t get to see it finally happen.  She was so close!

I was unable to attend the victory parade held a couple days later (on Friday, November 4th) because I was at work and not able to get off on such short notice.  So, I made a solo trek to Wrigley Field that Sunday (November 6th) just to walk around my favorite place in the world and take it all in.  Thankfully I wasn’t alone, as literally thousands of fellow Cubs fans did the same.  It was a truly one-of-a-kind experience that I will cherish forever.  I asked a stranger to take my picture, standing underneath the Wrigley marquee with the “WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS” message still plastered across it.

My solo trek that day also allowed me to do what many Cubs fans had throughout the postseason: grab a piece of chalk and write a message on the brick walls that encompass the outfield of Wrigley.  Many messages were celebratory, but I joined the countless others that left sentimental messages, and simply wrote “They did it, Grandma.”

As for my favorite photograph ever, I found it the day after the Cubs had finally won it all.  Someone shared it to Twitter and I instantly became enamored with it.  It is a shot from dead-on center in front of the iconic red Wrigley Marquee, the message “WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS” in bright white LED lights for the first time in the ballparks history, with thousands of Cubs fans celebrating underneath.  Arms raised, flags waving, smiles so large they almost look like they hurt…everyone in the shot acting the exact same way I did in the comfort of my own home when that final out happened.  I immediately saved it to my computer and set it as my desktop background, where it has remained ever since.

It has already been 3 years since the Cubs finally won, and if they never do it again I can at least say I got to see it finally happen.  That desktop image is my daily reminder of that.  I smile every time I see it, and have yet to stop smiling.  I’ve resolved to keep it as my desktop for good because of how happy it still makes me.

That is, until they win again, at which point I will update it with a new version!

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