Appropriately, Game 7 of the series proved to be an instant classic, as the Indians battled the Cubs to the last out. Fueled by big hits from Dexter Fowler, NLCS MVP Javier Baez and Chicago cult hero David Ross, the Cubs found themselves with a 5-1 lead. Fighting back from a 4 run deficit, the Indians completed their comeback with a very unlikely 2 run homer, hit off dominant fireballer Aroldis Chapman by the contact hitting Rajai Davis, tying the game at 6. Following a dramatic rain delay, World Series MVP Ben Zobrist drove in a run for the Cubs, and while the Indians didn’t go down quietly, Carl Edwards Jr. and Michael Martinez combined to shut the door to deliver the Cubs their 3rd championship.
The Cubs represent a dominant team, and a potential dynasty, that withstood the randomness of the postseason to win the World Series. From top to bottom, the Cubs dominated the major leagues this season, as stars Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both look likely to rack up MVP votes, while the rotation, led by Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and Jake Arietta, consistently perplexed hitters. Throughout the playoffs, the Cubs received contributions from all 25 players which speaks to the depth of the team. Lastly, Manager Joe Maddon and General Manager Theo Epstein will receive great praise for building and guiding such a talented, young and dynamic team.
For 108 years, the most common saying around the friendly confines of Wrigley Field was “There’s always next year.” Well, congratulations Cubs fans. 2016 is next year.
The story of the 2016 Cubs is simply incomplete without realizing how unlikely it was that they could ever reach this point. From 1908 to 2014, the Cubs won just one playoff series. Just 2 years ago, the Cubs lost 89 games and finished with the 2nd worst record in the National League. While the Red Sox were similarly cursed, until their championship in 2004, they at least had opportunities in the postseason. Although Red Sox fans were certainly heartbroken by devastating losses in 1975, 86 and 2003, they at least had strong teams with legitimate championship aspirations. Conversely, the Cubs hadn’t appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945, and were frankly so irrelevant that they underwent a different type disappointment and anguish. However, despite their youth and inexperience, this Cubs team found a way to hold off the weight of the past and rewrite history. As Kris Bryant beamed while he fielded the ground ball that proved to be the final out, Cubs fans everywhere knew they had been freed from their agony.
Simply put, the Chicago Cubs have transcended the sports world. While Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will assuredly be remembered as one of the most exciting games of all time, it means so much more than that. Through their quirkiness, youthful charm and, most importantly, their sheer dominance, the Cubs have forever changed the city of Chicago, and millions of its residents. They have redeemed former Cub greats like Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Kerry Wood, who were never quite able to lead the Cubs to the Promised Land. They have vindicated the millions of die-hard Cub fans who have come and gone without the privilege of seeing their beloved Cubs hoist The Commissioner’s Trophy. They have ensured that no one in the city of Chicago has occasion to talk about the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Black Cat, the collapse of 1984, or the Steve Bartman incident, unless they are joking about the days before the Cubs became winners. For 108 years, the most common saying around the friendly confines of Wrigley Field was “There’s always next year.” Well, congratulations Cubs fans. 2016 is next year.