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Cubs Fans Celebrate Series Win

October 6, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) _ This was the celebration Cubs fans had been waiting for.

``I lived till next year. It’s here! It’s here!″ said 44-year-old Norma Rolfsen.

The Chicago Cubs won their first postseason series since the 1908 World Series on Sunday night, beating the Braves 5-1 in Game 5 of the NL playoffs.

Even though the game was played in Atlanta, the celebration spilled from the bars near Wrigley Field into the streets of Chicago as long-suffering Cubs fans finally got to party like winners.

``No other town is like this,″ said Nathan Strup, 26.

The Cubs will play the Florida Marlins in the NL championship series, which begins Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Chicago is looking for its first trip to the World Series since 1945.

For Steve Collins, a 37-year-old Chicagoan who grew up in Boston, a Cubs playoff series win and the prospect of a Red Sox series win Monday night in Oakland seemed unreal. He said it makes him think ``the world is coming to an end.″

Nonetheless, Collins said he was looking forward to a Cubs-Red Sox World Series as ``a romantic’s dream.″

Before Sunday’s game, many Cubs fans shed their doubts and predicted a win, sounding as if they meant it.

``I knew they were going to do it today,″ 37-year-old Rudy Echeverria said while watching the game in a bar next to Wrigley Field.

It was a bold departure for fans used to wondering how and when the Cubs would let them down.

Even when Chicago lost Game 4 to the Braves at home on Saturday, fans around Wrigley Field could still sense victory.

``I don’t think people had the sense of, here we go again,″ said filmmaker Matt Liston, who is making a documentary about the Cubs’ remarkable season. ``Instead it was, we’re going to get them tomorrow.″

Behind ace pitcher Kerry Wood, that’s just what they did.

Soon after the final out, thousands of fans rushed out of sports bars and swarmed the corner of Clark and Addison outside Wrigley Field. Some did a tomahawk chop to mock the Braves and cheered wildly as the stadium’s marquee flashed ``Cubs Win!″

Before the game, it was evident Cubs fans were finished wondering how their team would collapse this year.

``I think people will be more shocked if they lose,″ bartender John Long said.

``Everyone was making plans for next week.″

For most fans, the Cubs are a team that sealed its reputation as ``lovable losers″ with a monumental collapse in 1969 and another one in 1973. And don’t get them started about 1984, when the Cubs took a 2-0 lead in a five-game series with the San Diego Padres only to drop the next three games.

This year, though, fans expected something different. Now that they’re getting it, they sure are enjoying themselves.

___

Associated Press writer Deanna Bellandi contributed to this story.

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