The Cubs kept telling themselves – and their fans and the media and all those business partners – they were on the greatest quest in professional sports.
So now what?
Anthony Rizzo's Instagram account shows the spoils of winning the franchise's first World Series title since 1908. There's a collage from his "Saturday Night Live" appearance with Bill Murray, Dexter Fowler and David Ross. There are pictures from Kris Bryant's splashy wedding in Las Vegas.
There are beach, sunset and yacht postcards from Thailand, Vietnam (where Rizzo went squid fishing) and the British Virgin Islands (where the All-Star first baseman bumped into Mayor Rahm Emanuel). On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rizzo hopes to give the nation's 44th president his No. 44 jersey when the Cubs visit Barack Obama's White House.
But Rizzo has a simple answer for anyone wondering if the Cubs are sleeping off the hangover – or maybe not feeling quite as hungry – after enjoying their global victory tour.
"You want more," Rizzo said Thursday during a Cubs Caravan stop at Northwest Middle School, where he raised the World Series trophy in a gym filled with roaring students. "Success is very addicting."
Generations of fans will thank the 2016 team when Cubs Convention opens at the Sheraton Grand Chicago on Friday – or 32 days until pitchers and catchers report to Arizona – for an event that would still be jam-packed coming off a last-place finish.
That's when Rizzo predicted the 2015 Cubs would win a division title, backing it up, in essence, with 97 wins and a trip to the National League Championship Series. But there's no need to drum up confidence and make guarantees anymore.
The Cubs are now Major League Baseball's glamour team, a telegenic group with crossover appeal and social-media savvy. Built and shaped by baseball rock stars in the front office (Theo Epstein) and dugout (Joe Maddon), the Cubs play with style, attitude and emotion. There's enough young blue-chip talent to make October baseball a reality at Wrigley Field for years to come.
"You just want to keep going," Rizzo said. "All the perks that have come this year have been amazing. You see guys after they win championships go on a couple talk shows. We had probably 20 guys on different talk shows, doing everything, branching out. It's amazing for the game. It's good for baseball.
"When I work out now, it's: ‘Oh, how are you going to get that going?' Well, it's easy. I want to do it again. I think everyone else will have that mentality as well."
Rizzo is coming off a 32-homer, 109-RBI season where he won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards and found the right balance between Maddon's ideals of staying loose and playing hard.
Rizzo took a broader view of his game and attacked the weaker parts without getting overloaded or overwhelmed by the history. He helped create the chill vibes in the clubhouse as these Cubs have clearly taken on elements of his personality.
"With the experience we've gained from getting swept by the Mets, to winning a Game 7 in the best World Series ever," Rizzo said, "I think anything that's thrown at us, we'll be able to handle.
"Especially with going into spring (training) last year with all the extra media and all the scrutiny, the way we were able to handle ourselves in the clubhouse and not worry about anything else was the biggest key."
Injuries, underperformance and a different chemistry could all derail the 2017 Cubs. But these core players get the benefit of the doubt after the way they burst onto the scene and shrugged off the century-plus championship drought.
Bryant won Rookie of the Year and MVP awards before turning 25 and getting married. Addison Russell and Javier Baez are going into their age-23 and age-24 seasons. Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. still haven't completed a full year in the big leagues yet.
The Cubs feel like the party in Wrigleyville is just beginning.
"We just got to keep going, keep sticking to the process, keep having fun," Rizzo said. "And know that – just like last year – we were the team to beat, and we're going to be the team to beat this year. So we got to go in there with the mentality of getting it on from the first day of spring until the last game."