Last Wednesday the Chicago Cubs made history by defeating the Cleveland Indians in Game seven of the World Series to win their first championship in 108 years.
The Chicago Cubs celebrate their World Series win after recording the final out.
It was a historic series from the start, with the Cubs holding the longest title drought in any major sport, and the Indians close behind, having not won a World Series in 68 years. It was a hard fought series, but the Indians will have to wait a little longer as the Cubs came back from a 3-1 series deficit to take the title.
The Indians quickly jumped ahead in the series on the back of their pitching staff who tore through the Cubs with precision on the mound. But the Cubs were not to be denied another year. They had been the best team in baseball all year and proved that one more time, winning three games in a row to bring Chicago the championship it has been craving for so long.
The last time the Cubs won a title Teddy Roosevelt was the President of the United States. Gas cost just 20 cents per gallon. It cost two cents to buy a Hershey’s bar. It has been a long time coming.
The path taken has not been the easiest. There have been many disappointments and heartbreaks for Chicago fans over the past 108 years. There have been good years where the team just didn’t perform up to expectations in the playoffs. Recently there have been a lot of bad years that allowed them to stockpile draft picks to put together a strong young lineup that crushed opposing pitchers this year. There was, of course, the infamous Steve Bartman play. With the Cubs five outs away from a World Series berth in the 2003 NLCS, Bartman, a fan seated in foul territory, reached out to catch a foul ball that Cubs outfielder Moises Alou was going for. It bounced off of Bartman as Alou tried to make the catch that would have put them four outs away. Instead, the Cubs managed to blow a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning as the Marlins came back to win and then stomped them the next night for Game seven.
What is now known as the “Bartman Incident” will never be forgotten by Cubs fans, but this year certainly eases the pain. Not only did they win the championship, but they did it in an exciting fashion.
With Indians ace Corey Kluber taking the mound for the third time this series (resulting in Indians wins the previous two starts) the Cubs had reason to be worried, but they countered with Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks. Neither starter brought their best stuff with Chicago up 5-3 after five innings. They tacked on another run to make it 6-3 going into the eighth and ace closer Aroldis Chapman on the mound. They looked like they were sitting pretty until Chapman imploded. He gave up a double to give them a 6-4 lead before Indians’ outfielder Rajai Davis ripped a fastball over the left field fence to tie the game and send Progressive Field into a frenzy.
It looked like the Cubs might be heading for another disappointment as heads dropped in the dugout and they could feel the momentum shift. But Chapman escaped the inning and no scoring in the ninth inning sent it to extra innings. These teams took the 2016 as far as it could go and then some.
The Cubs were able to dig deep and put up two runs in the top of the 10th. Davis gave them another scare by driving in a run in the bottom of the inning, but Cubs MVP candidate fielded an easy ground ball for the third out, finally washing away years of pain for generations of Cubs fans.
Back in Chicago, fans started celebrating well before the players returned home. People were screaming, they were running, they were cheering “Go Cubs Go.” Some were in such shock and awe over what they had witnessed that they couldn’t even say anything—just walk around and smile. So many of these people had waited their whole life — 30, 40, 50 years — for this moment.
The Cubs returned home heroes the next day. Around 5 million people showed up for the victory parade and rally, in which Cubs legends, past and present, spoke to the crowd and the World Series champions were honored. They even dyed the Chicago river blue as an homage to the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of dying it green. But it was a special occasion.
This Cubs team was destined for this moment from the start of the season started and they took matters into their own hands and made history. This team will be remembered forever in the sport of baseball and Chicago lore.
Willy may be reached at