By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist

(CBS) Experts will tell you that by the time the retail-level investor is interested in a stock, the real trade is long over. The smart money came in on the bottom-call, prepared to reap the reward of the big upswing from bad to good, rather than the lesser spread beyond that.

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If the Cubs were a stock — something owner Tom Ricketts of Incapital LLC and TD Ameritrade would certainly appreciate — there might be some taking profits at this point and moving onto the next opportunity. Those who bought at the lowest could sell into the current exuberance of the market and come out way ahead.

But that’s not how sports fandom works, with emotional currency nearly impossible to extricate. These kind of trading strategies aren’t so easily unwound when strings attach to the heart, and that’s the point — in is in, for better or worse.

“Investment carries risk,” the boilerplate disclaimer warns. “Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Potential clients should primarily consider and rely on their understanding of their personal investment constraints and objectives.”

The response to all that from most at Wrigley Field and beyond  Sunday would be a lunge for the nearest pen, asking breathlessly, “Where do I sign?”

That building has long been an amplifier of feelings, no matter what kind. The good days always seem giddy, the unfortunate ones morose. Nothing done structurally has altered that park’s noted effect, and in fact may have even enhanced it. The Cubs finishing off a sweep of the Giants on Sunday appeared to stir something long dormant for many fans — the exhilarating sense of the possible that itself triggers deep, reflexive fear.

That’s 10 wins in 11 games, a 3.5-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot and a 62-48 record with 52 games to play. Baseball Prospectus now estimates the Cubs’ playoff chances at 82.4 percent, the high-water-mark for them this year and a commensurate snap-back from their nadir of 40.2 percent as recently as July 29.

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Markets fluctuate — there’s another one of those disclaimers — but this past weekend may at the very least have cemented the return of that retail-level emotional investor to the Cubs, that fan who may have grudgingly understood and even endorsed the teardown strategy but has been slow to confront real recommitment and the risk that it entails.

Sloughing off scar tissue means fighting some very natural, human responses designed to protect one’s well-being. Cubs fans can be excused for largely becoming a more risk-averse lot in general, and the last four years have given them cover to keep their capital parked on the sidelines, despite any trust in new management.

That period of latency is now over. For whatever reason anyone has connected with the Cubs, the time has come to engage again.

And this is even with the awareness that the entire project is a year ahead of schedule, its potential this season aided by an added postseason slot that amounts statistically to nothing more than a flip of a coin and currently holding a place in that game as the visiting team.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon will keep downplaying the possibilities, mindfully protecting his precocious team as it goes against baseball history that suggests unlikely success for such a youthful everyday lineup, but it’s clear he knows what’s going on, and so do his bosses.

As of Sunday, so do many more.

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Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Boers and Bernstein Show” in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.