Few championships have meant more to a franchise than the Chicago Cubs' 2016 World Series title.
After 108 years without a title and 61 years since its last pennant, the team finally broke through with a Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians to win the title Nov. 2.
As owner Tom Ricketts told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the meaning wasn't lost on him:
It was just so important for this organization, to put this lovable loser crap to bed.
Despite all of the successes of the year, had that game gotten away from us, the next morning’s stories were going to be all about the Cubs losing again. ... That's why it's so important to get this behind us. We had to get past that and put that in the history of the Cubs, and not the future. We changed that dialogue, and now, it's all a thing in the past.
The lovable-loser label has defined the Cubs for the past century, with the team usually either well out of contention or falling just short of success for one reason or another.
Fans have blamed the Billy Goat Curse from 1945, a black cat running on the field in 1969 and fan Steve Bartman in 2003—the last of whom might finally get his chance at redemption in the coming year.
Bartman is known for reaching out for a foul ball during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. The Cubs were five outs away from reaching the World Series at the time. However, a collapse ensued, and the team lost to the Florida Marlins.
While Bartman has been harassed for years following the incident, this year's championship could be a chance for fans to finally let it go.
"I'm sure we'll reach out to him at the right time, and I'm sure we'll figure something out that provides closure for everybody. Hopefully, we can make it work," Ricketts said.
Meanwhile, Cubs fans are happy to focus on the team that just won the title. According to WGN Radio, an estimated five million people were in attendance at the victory parade. If the numbers are correct, it ranks as the seventh-largest gathering in recorded history and the biggest in the Western Hemisphere.
"I feel like I'm still not sure it ever happened," Ricketts said. "It's still sinking in. Still, slowly sinking in."