I think everyone knows it by now and has talked about it with 5 separate colleagues, but we can say it again.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions!
The boys from the Chicago’s North Side get to party their asses off like 1908 all over again. The years of excruciating pain are a thing of the past. The 2016 Chicago Cubs made their mark on history that will live on forever.
This World Series did not disappoint. I predicted the Cubs in 7 here and it feels good to be right for the first time in my life about something. This isn’t about me though. The Cubs and Indians gave us what every baseball fan (aside from Chicago or Cleveland fans) would want in that scenario, 7 games playing for a World Championship.
Making it EVEN better, Game 7 went into extra innings and gave us a suspense filled rain delay after midnight on the East Coast.
The Indians pitching carried them to a 3-1 series lead after 4 games and it looked like they were due to clinch the victory the following night at Wrigley Field. Ticket prices on StubHub dropped from over $3,000 to $600 for standing room. The streets weren’t as packed surrounding the Fox Pregame show with A-Rod, Pete Rose and The Big Hurt. The bleachers had empty spots minutes before the first pitch (soon they filled, just not as crammed hours before the first pitch like Games 3 & 4). But the players in the Cubs clubhouse didn’t care.
Cleveland took an early lead in Game 5 and the Cubs answered after they were sparked by a Kris Bryant home run leading to a 3-run inning. 3 runs was all they needed for the 3-2 victory. Joe Maddon decided he was ready to shut it down that game taking a page from Terry Francona’s 2016 Postseason managing manual. He brought in Chapman to finish the final 2.2 innings and secure a win.
Beautifully done. Forced Game 6 back in Cleveland while putting pressure on them. They gave everyone crap for coming back in the NBA Finals on a 3-1 lead. Surely it wouldn’t happen to them.
The Cubs bats stayed hot in an impressive Game 6. Kris Bryant started it off with another home run in the top of the 1st on a hanging 0-2 Tomlin breaking ball and they didn’t look back. The Indians found themselves down 3-0 after the first thanks to some miscommunication in the outfield. Addison Russell’s grand slam in the 3rd inning to go up 7-0. Cleveland wasn’t quiet at all. The crowd made it feel like you were watching a game played at Wrigley Field.
Jumping ahead, Cubs hold on to win 9-3 and force a Game 7 in Cleveland the next night. A baseball Game 7 is much different than a hockey or basketball Game 7. You can control the pace of the game. There’s no clock. Every pitch has so much suspense building up to it and upon execution. Cleveland was quiet in the top of the 1st. You could feel a nervousness from both fan bases inside Progressive Field. It broke quickly for the Cubs. Dexter Fowler starts the game with a lead off home run. Don’t get to see too many of those.
Corey Kluber was starting his 3rd game of the World Series. He started Games 1, 4 and 7 with 3 days of rest in between. The guy was lights out Games 1 & 4, but a good Cubs lineup was seeing a guy for the 3rd time in less than 2 weeks. How effective can you continue to be?
Kluber was giving up a lot of fly balls early in the game. Not ideal, but any chance of distress you have to get him out. I thought he should’ve been pulled in the 4th when he had runners on first and third with 1 out before the Addison Russell sac fly. Bryant scored on a close play at the plate, but why did Rajai Davis have no sense of urgency to get that ball in ASAP? He caught it flat footed and almost looked the runner back before he realized Bryant was breaking for the plate.
Anyways, Willson Contreras doubled to center and the Cubs scored again in the 4th, 3-1 Cubs. Now you have to pull Kluber, right? Nope. He got out of the inning, but served up a solo Javier Baez home run on the first pitch of the top of the 5th. 4-1 Cubs. NOW he comes out. Francona was so brilliant with his guys all series that him waiting so long confused me. Next game is in March, do anything to win.
In the bottom of the 5th lots of people seemed really confused when Joe Maddon went to give Kyle Hendricks the hook. Hendricks was cruising and was being incredibly efficient. It doesn’t hurt to have Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Arrieta in the bullpen in a Game 7, but Hendricks wasn’t in a lot of trouble.
Maddon goes to Lester, who can’t hold runners which I still can’t comprehend as much as I try, which means Willson Contreras gets replaced behind the plate with David Ross. Do anything to win, it just didn’t seem like the timing was right. Lester allowed 2 runs to score on a wild pitch that hit Ross in the face mask and almost looked like he had no idea where he was for a split second. Jason Kipnis hustled his ass off and scored from 2nd base following Santana. 5-3 Cubs.
David Ross is the man. The guy is known for catching Jon Lester once every 5 days and is retiring this year. It’s his last game no matter what and he gets his shot. Boom. Home run off of Andrew Miller to dead center. How did a 39-year old just hit one out of the nastiest reliever in the Postseason. Who cares? Enjoy that moment David Ross. 6-3 Cubs top 6.
Lester put it on cruise control for a little bit taking the 6-3 lead into the 8th. Chapman, who threw over 40 pitches in Game 5 and then 20 more in Game 6 (which I don’t agree with, but it worked so hey) was warming up in the pen for any sign of distress. I was asked why Lester was still in, which was a simple answer. Let him go until he puts a guy on base. 2 outs in the 8th and Jose Ramirez gets on. Maddon makes the move to Chapman.
Chapman needs 1.1 innings and the Cubs walk away Champions. Easy enough for the flame throwing lefty. I don’t know what it was, but I had hunch that Chapman was going to blow the lead. I don’t know why after watching him dominate the Pirates and everyone else for years, and yes I have documented proof calling it. I have to make myself feel good somehow. The Brandon Guyer at-bat was beautiful. He stayed through the ball and hit the gap on a 3-2 pitch scoring Ramirez from first. 6-4 Cubs, 2 outs, guy on 2nd. Chapman is fine.
Rajai Davis. The guy hit .249 this regular season with 12 home runs. No way, right? Well, wrong. I have no idea how he hit that ball out. Chapman made a good pitch I thought, Davis somehow got a barrel to it and smoked it down the line. 6-6 game. How were you feeling, Chicago?
Cleveland gets through the 9th. Chapman gets through the 9th. Very nicely I might add. That home run can crush any confidence you have as a pitcher and he came back out and did his job.
Things got really weird then. A rain delay. After midnight. During Game 7 of the World Series. How many times has that happened? I knew work was going to be fun today, but no one can call it quits and fall asleep. They had to play that game that night.
Thank you Mother Nature for the 17 minute rain delay. I can work with that.
I like Bryan Shaw a lot. I liked the match-up he gave Schwarber to lead off the 10th. Shaw has a nice cutter and Schwarber struggles with the cutter up and in. Didn’t matter. Schwarber beat the shift and was rewarded with a pinch runner. Kris Bryant almost made Chicago explode. He came a few feet from a home run, but great baserunning by Almora Jr. by advancing to 2nd. Guy on 2nd, 1 out. Rizzo coming up, Zobrist on deck. As the broadcasters said, you can’t pitch to both.
Cleveland intentionally walked Rizzo to throw to Zobrist. I would’ve thrown to Rizzo and walked Zobrist. Zobrist was on fire all series. Rizzo hit Shaw a few times, but I think I like that match-up better. Didn’t matter. Zobrist puts a shot down the left field line. 7-6 Cubs in extras. Now you walk Russell to fill first base and create the force at any base with 1 out. Miguel Montero comes up, and a beautiful single solidifies the lead. 8-6 Cubs.
What about now, Chicago? How are things going?
Carl Edwards Jr. comes out of the bullpen to close the 10th. Short leash on him though. Gave up a hit, a walk and got a strikeout over 0.2 innings. It was a great walk drawn by Brandon Guyer with no one on and 2 outs down 2. They gave him second base and Rajai Davis delivered again with 2 outs in a clutch situation. 8-7 Cubs. Maddon goes to the bullpen, lefty Mike Montgomery.
I like the move there, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve gotten that last out with Michael Martinez at the plate. The once Pirates utility man that couldn’t even hit .200 and had 0 extra base hit with the Bucs had Cleveland on his shoulders. To the shock of many, Martinez dribbled one to Bryant, who slipped a bit throwing to first, and it was time to party your ass off in Chicago. 8-7 Cubs final. Martinez has good speed, but Montgomery threw a nice breaking ball to get that ground ball.
Ben Zobrist was named the MVP of the series and got a nice, new Chevy. Bill Murray was honking the horn and enjoyed a champagne shower in the clubhouse.
This series was just great for the sport of baseball. And this was the best Game 7 I have seen in my time. I think it surpasses the 2001 Diamondbacks Game 7 walk off single and the 1997 Game 7 Marlins extra innings walk off. Only game that might top it for me is 2011 Game 6. These Cubs knew they were the favorites this year and they never let the moment get too big for them.
It’s always fun to celebrate in front of your home crowd, but it basically seemed like the Cubs were celebrating in front of their crowd. That place was loud. They deserved it. And now Cleveland becomes the victim of the 3-1 lead jokes that will follow for some time. To the Cleveland fans who had tickets and sold them, good for you. I hope you enjoy that check that’s about to drop with 4 zero’s after the first number.
Theo Epstein knew what he was doing before he became the new GM of the Cubs. He told everyone to just stay with him and the time will come. The man delivered. First with the 2007 Red Sox and now with the 2016 Cubs. He turned this team from a 100 loss club to a juggernaut that will be feared for years. The National League is theirs to lose for at least 3 more years. I just don’t know who else can compete.
Damn it though. I really need to witness the Pirates do this. The reaction that city had was indescribable. The streets of Wrigleyville were overflowing with people just to stand outside Wrigley and watch the score update on the Wrigley marquee. The bars outside of Clark and Addison had people overflowing into the streets to catch a glimpse of the TV.
The curse was broken. And no one even cared about it. They shouldn’t. What they did was bigger than that. You forget the 100+ years of losing instantly and the North Side of Chicago needed that. This party will be lasting for a long time. It’s not Gonna Happen. It Happened.
1907, 1908 and now 2016. Hey, Chicago, what do ya say?