We all felt the ground rumble and the buildings shake Wednesday night, right? No, it wasn’t an earthquake, that was the sound of millions of dead North Siders turning over in their graves as the Chicago Cubs, the most historically inept team in the history of American sports, finally ended their 108-year championship drought, hoisting the World Series trophy for the first time since 1908. Actually scratch that, they hoisted it for the first time since there’s been a trophy!
As was befitting of such a momentous moment in baseball history, Game 7 was one of the greatest and most tumultuous contests you will ever see.
The situation favored the Cleveland Indians, given home field advantage by the ridiculous All-Star Game rule and starting their ace Corey Kluber, one of the best pitchers in baseball and a favorite for the AL Cy Young.
Kluber had steamrolled through Chicago’s lineup in two previous Series appearances in Games 1 and 4, both Cleveland wins, using a buzzsaw of a two-seam fastball to make the Cubbies’ batters look like a bunch of Little Leaguers.
Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler made sure there would be no such flailing about with the season on the line, starting off the game with a bomb to dead center, the first Game 7 leadoff home run in MLB history. From there it was one improbable play after another, to the point where the game began to feel like a fever dream.
Lumbering Kyle Schwarber, built like a barrel and only just back from a devastating ACL injury, stealing second base without a throw!
Jason Kipnis scoring from second on a wild pitch after the ball’s ricochet knocked sturdy catcher David Ross to his back!
Ross taking unhittable relief ace Andrew Miller deep in his final major league game!
Slap-hitting Rajai Davis lining a ball over the left-field wall off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman (pulling a fastball from the fastest pitcher in major league history) to tie the game!
The heavens opening up in a downpour before the 10th inning, probably because God had something on the stove and didn’t want to miss any of the action!
Kris Bryant, struggling with the glove all postseason, charging in on a slow roller and delivering a bullet to first to end the agony of generations of loyal fans!
Any one of them felt like it could have been the series’ defining moment, and they all happened in the same game. The result was the greatest game of my lifetime, four hours and 28 minutes of raw emotion and unimaginable tension that only baseball can deliver.
Is there something bittersweet about the Cubs’ victory and the end of the Curse of the Billy Goat, one of those romantic folk tales that reverberates through history and provides the lifeblood of the game?
From a certain perspective I would agree with that. Curses and colorful storylines out of a bygone era are part of the heart and soul of baseball, and every time we lose one, the national pastime feels just a little more like another sport and a little less like pure Americana.
But far be it from me to take this moment away from delirious Chicago fans just to preserve my own sense of nostalgia. Besides, as unexpected as this title seems from a historical perspective, we can’t say that it came as much of a surprise in 2016.
Armed with a bevy of great arms, an airtight defense and the most dynamic young lineup in the league, the Cubs entered the season as everyone’s World Series favorites.
Their win was not the story of an impossible underdog but the fulfillment of a prophecy of greatness. And you know what? Chances are this won’t be the last time we see the Cubbies standing tall at season’s end.
Bryant, Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Javier Baez are all 27 years old or younger. Joe Maddon is an evil genius of a manager.
Theo Epstein, now the architect behind two historic drought-ending championship runs (he was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2004), may have sold his soul to the devil for the promise of winning baseball.
Chicago has all the makings of a dynasty, and now without the specter of history hanging over them we’ll see just how far they can take it. Run and hide, Cardinals fans, because there might just be a new boss in town.