For the first time in 108 years, the city of Chicago will be able to bask in the glow of a World Series celebration with the Cubs when the team holds its victory parade on Friday.

The Cubs capped off their historic season with a dramatic 3-1 series comeback against the Cleveland Indians, highlighted by an 8-7 win in Game 7 that saw them blow a three-run lead in the eighth inning before scoring two runs in the top of the 10th and holding off one more Cleveland rally. 


Parade Predictions

Predicting a parade isn’t nearly as agonizing as a game because no matter the outcome, no one feels like they lost. 

However, it will not be a stretch to say the Cubs’ parade will be the biggest baseball celebration in history.

Using the totally unscientific list of largest peaceful gatherings compiled by Wikipedia (via Paula Schleis of the Akron Beacon Journal), the Boston Red Sox‘s celebratory parade on October 30, 2004, ranks first among sporting-related events with an estimated 3 million people in attendance. 

If you prefer something a little more concrete, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2013 the Chicago Blackhawks’ parade in Grant Park drew approximately 2 million fans. 

As of May 2016, per Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business, the city’s total population is just over 2.7 million. There will also be spectators from around the area making a journey into the city for this historic moment. 

One thing that does hurt the potential turnout is the quick turnaround from Wednesday’s game to Friday afternoon. Fans who could have been looking to fly in might not be able to make necessary arrangements in time. 

But this is still going to be a huge event with a record number of fans joining in the festivities. 

As for what to expect from the actual celebration, there is nothing likely to surprise anyone. There should be many Cubs legends in attendance, but as far as which person will get the biggest ovation, don’t count on it coming from anyone who wore a uniform. 

It’s not hard to pinpoint when the Cubs’ plan was put into place: October 25, 2011. Things were rapidly unraveling for the franchise as they went from 97 wins in 2008 to 71 in 2011, leading to the firing of general manager Jim Hendry in August 2011. 

After a three-month job search, the Cubs introduced Theo Epstein as their president of baseball operations on that date in October. Here is what he said at his introductory press conference, per ESPN Chicago:

We’re going to build the best baseball operation we can. We’re going to change the culture. Our players are going to change the culture along with us in the major league clubhouse. We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priority. That will lead to playing October baseball more often than not. Once you get in in October there’s a legitimate chance to win the World Series.

Epstein’s model has so far been nothing short of brilliant. His first three first-round draft picks were Albert Almora (2012), Kris Bryant (2013) and Kyle Schwarber (2014). He helped execute trades that brought Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Kyle Hendricks to Chicago. 

Jon Lester, who was with the Boston Red Sox when Epstein was general manager, signed with the Cubs before the 2015 season.

No one in Major League Baseball has built an operation with a more consistent level of success on the field and in player development than Epstein. He was the primary architect of three World Series teams in Boston, even though the 2013 title came after he left, and did the same thing in Chicago. 

Players are the ones who have to do the work on the field that everyone recognizes, but Epstein deserves to be the most praised person at the victory parade because of how he completely transformed the way business was being done in Chicago.

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