It took a game of historical proportions to make history
Published 5:11 pm Friday, November 4, 2016
It took 108 years, but on Wednesday night the Chicago Cubs finally broke free of all the curses and claimed the World Series title. In one of, if not the, greatest games sevens ever played, the Cubs slayed the ghost of the Billy goat and ended the season on top of the world.
From start to finish this series was one for the ages. The historical significance of two franchises with lengthy championship droughts battling for the title, Cleveland’s chance to go from hapless sports town to a city with two major championships in the same year (the Cavaliers won the NBA title this summer).
The Cubs entered the series as the clear best team in baseball. They won 103 games this year and featured a dynamic young lineup of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, who battled back from a major knee injury that cost him the entire season to be ready for the World Series, Javier Baez and Addison Russell. This is a team that is built to be very good, for a very long time.
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The matchup to watch in the series was that lineup against the Indians bullpen. Cleveland’s entire goal was for their starter to last five to six innings and then hand it over to the three-headed monster of Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. Throw in last year’s CY Young winner Corey Kluber and the Indians felt good about their pitching.
For a while it looked like it was going to work. On the back of dominant performance from the bullpen and two herculean efforts by Kluber, the Indians took a 3-1 lead in the series. They now had three chances to win the championship with the final two games at home.
Then, in game five, the Cubs’ offense awoke like a bear coming out of hibernation. They battled to a 3-2 victory in game five to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Then back in Cleveland, their bats exploded on the way to a 9-3 victory in game six that was over as soon as Russell crushed a grand slam in the third and may actually have been decided when Bryant sent a home run 426 feet in the first.
On to game seven it would go with all the momentum in the Cubs’ favor except for the fact that Kluber was back on the mound and ready to show the world that he was invincible on short rest.
Him dominance quickly evaporated though, as Dexter Fowler laced a lead off home to center field to give his team a 1-0 lead in the first inning. From there one of the greatest games I have ever watched ensued. The pitchers were tired after battling for six games and the offenses were juiced with so much on the line.
The Indians tied the game in the third, before Chicago pulled away for a 5-1 lead. It looked like game 6 all over again, and many people including myself called the game at that point.
We forgot to tell Cleveland though as they battled back to 5-3, then after Chicago added another the Indians battled again.
With two outs in the eighth inning and a three run lead on the scoreboard, the Cubs brought in flame throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to get the final four outs. He was tired though and Cleveland tied the game on a homerun by Rajai Davis, one of the greatest moments I have every watched.
A scoreless ninth led to extra innings, which were delayed 17 minutes by rain. The Cubs scored two in the top of the tenth and then held on in the bottom after Cleveland could only muster one run. The curse was broken, the goat was dead, and Rizzo put the ball from the final out in his pocket to end the greatest game and series in a long time.