For the first time since 1908, before the First World War, before women could vote in America and when Mark Twain was still alive, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. And they did it in epic fashion, besting the Cleveland Indians in Game 7. As much a storybook ending as anybody could ask for.
Kyle Schwarber’s unexpected comeback at the start of the series after a regular season-ending injury had put him on the shelf for what people assumed was all of 2016, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to force a seventh game, getting production from wherever they could and a over a century of frustration put to rest all made this one of the sweetest victories in sports history.
All that, and they did it in seven games. Possibly the most perfect ending you could ask for, the Cubs defeating Cleveland eight to seven to finally put the demons and curses to rest once and for all. Starting with a leadoff home run by Dexter Fowler, the Cubs got to Cleveland’s ace Corey Kluber early, but the Indians tied it up in the third. The Cubs took the lead by two more in the fourth, and kept the foot on the gas from there, scoring to more runs in the fifth for insurance. The first scary moment came when Cubs manager Joe Maddon yanked starter Kyle Hendricks from what was a solid outing, and inserted the team’s ace, Jon Lester, onto the mound. Lester gave up two runs, one of which the Cubs got back in the fifth with a home run by David Ross. Ross, playing in his last season, ended his baseball career in a grand way: with a home run. The Indians would tie the game up at six in the eighth inning with a shocking Rajai Davis two-run homer against Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, but it would be Ben Zobrist in the tenth inning, after a rain delay, to break the tie in one of the most dramatic games in baseball history. Zobrist would be awarded the MVP of the World Series.
For Cleveland, meanwhile, the loss extends their World Series losing streak that goes back to 1948. But with a powerful pitching staff that includes ace Corey Kluber and reliever Andrew Miller, as well as young stars like Francisco Lindor, the future is bright for Cleveland’s baseball team.
Baseball is a game of disappointment, maybe more than any other American professional sport, with the bulk of the season played during the long, hot summer that feels like it never ends – until it does. Your team gets to a certain point, and then there’s a pretty good chance they don’t end up winning it all as October comes to a close. For these two teams, each with long waits between championship wins, the possibility of heartbreak was possibly a little more than usual, yet they put it all out there knowing only one could win. For Cleveland, they’ll spend the winter wondering how they get back and what they have to do for that last push. For the Cubs and their fans – who have waited 108 years for this moment – it is the moment of a lifetime.