At Last – Chicago Cubs’ Win World Series

Sean Kingsepp

On November 3, 2016, at 12:46 PM, Chicago Cubs’ first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, records the final out of game 7 of the first World Series win for the Cubs since 1908. This 108-year championship drought is the largest drought in North American sports history. To win this World Series, they had to overcome adversity, as well as a Cleveland Indians team which was going through a 68-year championship drought of their own. Both teams deserved to be there, and both teams left everything on the field in that seventh and final game of the 2016 Major League Baseball season.

The Chicago Cubs came into the 2016 playoffs with the best record in baseball and the most heavily favored team according to Las Vegas bookkeepers. This team, built from young cornerstone players and former Cy Young Award winners, started hot in the National League Division Series. In a best of five series, the Cubs defeated the even-year favorite San Francisco Giants in four games. While many of the games they played were close, the Cubs continued their seasonal mantra of solid pitching and timely hitting. Led by second-year third baseman Kris Bryant, who slashed a line of .375/.412/1.099 during the series, the Cubs stormed into the National League Championship Series, hoping to win their first pennant since 1945.  In the National League Championship Series, the Cubs offense disappeared during games two and three against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs’ bats exploded in game four, scoring 10 runs while only yielding two, and didn’t look back. The MVPs of the series would be second baseman Javier Baez and starting pitcher, Jon Lester. The Cubs had already made history, but they wanted more.

The Cleveland Indians entered the postseason with the second-best record in the American League, but did so while enduring many injuries to key players like Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley. The Indians hadn’t made a World Series since 1997, but have not won the World Series since 1948, so they came in as underdogs. In the American League Division Series, they would play the Boston Red Sox, dismantling them in three games. After seeing the Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter not use his best bullpen pitcher in the Wild Card Game, Indians’ manager Terry Francona used his best reliever, Andrew Miller, to the fullest extent. Cleveland powered their way to a sweep, with five homeruns in three games and phenomenal pitching performances by both Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller. The American League Championship Series was set to be a series of shootouts, yet turned into anything but. The most combined runs scored in the series was six in game four, with all games but game four decided by three runs or fewer. The Indians pitching couldn’t be beaten even though their offense was held to a batting average of .168 over the five games. Reliever Andrew Miller was voted MVP of the series, striking out 14 in 7 2/3 innings while allowing only three hits. Cleveland would now face the Cubs in a World Series that is more than a half century in the making.

The 2016 World Series may go down as one of the greatest World Series ever played. Even if you disregard the sheer history in play, a 108-year drought v. a 68-year drought, the games were close and the drama was ever-present. After fairly easy streams to the Series, this series would go the distance of seven games to determine who actually was the best team in Major League Baseball in 2016. Although only three of the seven games were decided by one run, it didn’t seem possible that the Indians would be able to finish the series in six games. After leading the series 3-1 heading into game 5, Chicago wouldn’t quit. They could not quit. 71 years since their last World Series appearance couldn’t end in anything other than victory in the minds of Cubs fans. Neither team believed that “there’s always next year.” Every fan believed that this was their one chance to break the curse. The dangerous Cubs offense was almost non-existent in the first five games of the season, but down to what could have been their final game of the season on Oct. 30, they fought. The Cubs won game five by a score of 3-2 and then would move on to Cleveland for the final two. Home field advantage meant nothing in cities so close, everyone was fairly represented. While game six was an easy win for the Chicago Cubs, a 9-2 highlighted by a 6-RBI night from Cubs’ shortstop Addison Russell, it would only set the stage for what might become known as the greatest game of all time.

Game seven of the World Series began with a bang as Cubs’ outfielder Dexter Fowler led off the game with a homerun to dead centerfield. The Indians matched that run in the bottom of the third inning thanks to an RBI-single by designated hitter Carlos Santana. The Cubs would rally to score two in the fourth and two in the fifth, holding a 5-3 after a wild pitch allowed two runners to score in the bottom of the fifth. Cubs catcher Cody Ross, who announced his retirement from the game earlier this year, would hit a homerun in the top of the sixth inning, becoming the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to hit a homerun in game seven of the World Series. The score would remain until a tired Aroldis Chapman was brought in to face the lower half of the Indians order in the eighth. An RBI double by Brandon Guyer set the stage for what might be the most dramatic homerun hit in Indians history. Rajai Davis hit a two-run, game tying homerun with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, fulfilling many young players’ lifelong dreams.  The only way to better that would be to hit a walk-off. The ninth inning would end in a 6-6 tie, leading to a short rain delay before extra innings. In that short delay, Cubs underachieving outfielder Jason Heyward held an inspiring meeting. The meeting certainly inspired them as they would score two runs in the top of the tenth off Bryan Shaw. The Indians attempted comeback would fall one run short, ending with Michael Martinez grounding out to Kris Bryant, who would throw across the diamond to the other Cubs cornerstone in Anthony Rizzo. The Chicago Cubs have just broken a 108-year curse that many millions of people could not see and many millions other believed that they would never see. The only questions that remain are: Can Cleveland return next year to break their own curse? and Can Chicago create a dynasty which hasn’t been seen since the 1996-2001 New York Yankees?