By: Joe SanFilippo
Chicago Cubs fans are comforted to know they “finally did it.” For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs can call themselves “World Series Champions.”
The Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in the best-of-7 series 4-3, claiming their first title since 1908. Burdened for decades with the longest World Series victory-less drought, that distinction now belongs to the Indians, who have not won the series since 1948.
Having held a 3-1 lead in the series, the Indians pitching staff initially shut down the entirety of the Cubs lineup. Their starters produced high strike out rates, and when manager Terry Francona would decide to place the ball in relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen hands, the general consenus was “game over.”
The Cubs recaptured their good fortunes in Game 5 when they were able to knock out Indians starter Trevor Bauer after only four innings, flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman finishing off the victory in the end. In Game 6, they similarly rallied off of starter Josh Tomlin who made an even earlier exit only after 2.2 innings pitched.
As expected, Game 7 was one for the ages. The Cubs jumped out to a 6-3 lead after seven inning on the backs of strong pitching performances by arguably the frontrunners for the top place finish and the runner up in the year’s National Cy Young Award race, Kyle Hendricks and John Lester. Then in the eighth inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought his trusted closer Chapman in to the game, essentially a lock every time he enters a game. But pitching in his third game in a row proved to be a daunting task, as soft-hitting speedster Rajai Davis stunned the world by cranking a game-tying, three-run homerun off of Chapman.
Now riding the momentum for the first time since Game 4, the Indians pursuit of the rare Game 7 walk-off was halted due to a ninth inning rain delay that lasted approximately 20 minutes. For the Cubs, this meant reconvening and reassessing what needed to be done in order to bring the odds back in their favor. Motivated by veteran Outfielder Jason Heyward during a brief but poignant team meeting in the clubhouse, the Cubs tacked on two runs in the top of the tenth inning. At 8-6, the Indians fought back with another clutch hit from Davis, and RBI single sent up the middle off of CJ Edwards to inch closer with a now 8-7 deficit. . However, that is all they would get, as Mike Montgomery entered the game and induced a series-ending groundout.
Cleveland fans won’t be making “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” jokes anymore, referring to this past year’s NBA championship having been won via an improbable comeback by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This time, the Cubs were the ones came back from the 3-1 deficit. The heavy favorites since the onset of the season, the Cubs did not disappoint the various analysts, including former sports editor and current “Mount Messenger” editor-in-chief Mike Reistetter, who predicted the Cubs the # 1 ranked team in their pre-season polls. Congratulations to the Cubs. No more “there’s always next year.” Next year, is finally now.