Reflecting on the Cubs' World Series victory from Florida — and who I shared it with.
Before this season, I had always joked that if the Cubs ever made the World Series — or won it — I’d quit my job and head to Chicago, where I would lose myself in the revelry.
I grew up just outside of the city in the southeast suburbs before moving to Winter Garden in 2000, and I’ve been a diehard Chicago sports fan since birth.
Instead, when the formerly cursed Cubs actually won the World Series last week, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ home in northwest Winter Garden — about 1,154 miles away, per Google Maps — with my mom, my brother and the biggest Cubs fan I know; my dad.
In hindsight, I’m glad that I did not follow through on my irrational first idea.
But the idea of it does harken to a bigger picture reality of being a sports fan in Florida.
Many of us are from somewhere else, and our sports allegiances usually reflect that.
On the one hand, it’s kind of cool when you go shopping at Publix wearing your team’s gear and someone stops you to strike up a conversation – unless it’s Bears gear and someone stops you to wallow in misery.
On the other hand, you simply cannot recreate the energy or experience of living in a city during a championship run. It’s the difference between seeing Kris Bryant throw over to first for the final out and celebrating for a half-hour before heading to bed (it was pretty late here on the East Coast, and people have to work in the morning, after all) and watching that same final out and dancing in the streets until the sun comes up.
It’s just different — which brings me to the decision of where to watch that final game.
My dad, Jud Ryzewski, is the ultimate tortured Cubs fan. So, in lieu of actually being in Chicago to experience a Cubs World Series (the victory parade is being credited as one of the largest gatherings of people in the history of humanity), I did the next best thing — I shared a baseball moment a lifetime in the making with my dad.
The role teams play within their cities as a source of civic pride has always been one of the biggest draws to sports for me. It’s why I root for the Cubs and the Chicago White Sox in baseball — it’s heresy to many, but I simply can’t imagine not rooting for a team from Chicago.
With that said, the longer I live in Florida, the more of a connection I feel with the Orlando Magic or the UCF Knights. And although the fire for those Chicago teams still burns, it doesn’t quite burn as brightly as it once did.
And so, the Cubs’ big win did not quite feel the same as it would have been if we had never moved to Florida or if I was a kid with a Sammy Sosa jersey again.
But for my pops, it was the same — a lifetime of disappointment can do that.
So as we embraced after that final out, I realized that moment was close to — if not just as good — as standing outside of Wrigley Field with thousands of strangers that night waiting for the marquee to read “CUBS WIN.”
We even flew our own W, of sorts, thanks to some blue masking tape and a white garage door at my parents’ home.
The fun part is, I think this is just the beginning and that the Cubs will win multiple World Series titles with this roster — and so do people much smarter than I on the matter. It’s going to be one heck of a run.
And, hey, if the White Sox can get their act together (unlikely), I might even live to see my grandest sports dream — an all-Chicago World Series, South Side vs. North Side.
Now that I might quit my job to go see.