Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Chicago Cubs Are World Series Champions For 2016

Like most of Cubs fans I didn't think I'd see the day that the Chicago Cubs would make it to the World Series, much less win it.  Since 1908, they could not win the last game of the season.  Wednesday Night, they did just that, outlasting Cleveland 8-7 in perhaps one of the best World Series ever.  In my book it is.

(photo: SI)

I kept checking the play by play on ESPN since I was at work, they were ahead 6-3 on  David Ross' solo shot and things looked fairly well.  Till the Indians came back and tying the game on a 2 run home run off Adonis Chapman, who was tired after two game earlier of coming into the 7th inning and trying to save the games.  Joe Maddon had no confidence in the middle relief it seems.  He had Travis Wood who wasn't used very much, Hector Rondon who wasn't used very much. The ones he did use were shaky, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr.  But I think it had to do with Cleveland having good hitters getting their pitches at the right time.  Certainly Maddon had a quick hook for pitchers throughout the series, he took out ace pitcher Kyle Hendricks in favor of Jon Lester and even took Lester off sooner than he should have to put in the tired Chapman, who had a 2 2/3 save on game 5 and came in again early in game 6.  That game featured Addison Russell hitting a grand slam in route to a 9-3 victory and Kris Bryant adding one as well and Anthony Rizzo's 2 run shot for added cushion.   When Davis tied the game with a 2 run shot in the 8th, I thought the worst was happening.   And in the 9th inning when the Cubs didn't score I figured I catch the game on the way home.  When I got into the car, the announcers were talking about the highlights and I figured Cleveland won in the bottom of the ninth and proceeded to put on the Hoodoo Gurus Blow Your Cool.

What I didn't know was that there was a 17 minute rain delay and missed out on the Cubs comeback.  And for that matter and for my heart it was probably better that I had not tuned in.   The game was the ultimate matchup, the best pitchers on the team Corey Kluber going for Cleveland, Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs.   Kluber won the first two games he pitched, that 1-0 win in game one with the win blowing out and game 4 which the Indians prevailed 7-2.  But The Chicago Cubs had a habit of coming back and beating the pitching aces of other teams. Madison Bumgardner for the Giants and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and by then they figured out Kluber could be beaten.  Dexter Fowler led the game off with a home run.  While the Indians tie the game up, Chicago lit into Corey for two runs in the fourth and then Javier Baez, the wild swinging Cubs infielder, got a hold of a Kluber pitch and took it to the stands for a solo shot.  And that was all she wrote for Corey Kluber.

(photo: Getty images-David Ross HR)

But Kyle Hendricks didn't last long either, with two outs in the fifth, a walk and Maddon's quick hook ended Kyle's game.  Jon Lester who pitched in game 5 came out of the bullpen.  Cleveland got another hit and an error by David Ross to put two on bases and on 2nd and 3rd.  A wild pitch then scored both runners.  We begin to wonder.  We shouldn't.  Ross came up next inning and took one out of the ball park 6-3 Cubs.  Then Cleveland made their big comeback off Chapman after Lester was taken out of the game.

The Cubs had a runner at 3rd base, Jason Heyward with one out but failed to get him home, so Chapman pitched another inning, this time getting Cleveland for a rare 3 up and 3 down inning.  Then the rain came.

And when the rain went away, the Cubs had come to life, getting two runs.  Kyle Schwarber, a thorn in the side of Cleveland as DH hitter, walked. Almora Jr, replaced him and went to second on a sac fly by Bryant.  Rizzo was walked and Ben Zobrist, who helped Kansas City win the World Series last year came to the plate and hit a double that scored Almora Jr and then the winning win was Miguel Montero hitting a single to drive in Zobrist.   Trevor Bauer, who started two games, came in to retire the next two Cubs.  Cleveland would not go away, a walk, and thorn in the ass Davis hit a single and drove in a run.  Maddon decided on Mike Montgomery to finish the game and when Martinez hit a slow grounder to Bryant, whose throw made it before Martinez got there, it happened.  The Cubs won the last game of the season.  THE CUBS HAVE WON THE WORLD SERIES.

I don't think there's been a world series that two teams played each other to the end, giving everything that they had and then some. Both teams hit, the Cubs only had three innings of three up/down, Cleveland two. Both teams fought long and hard and when the dust finally blew away, in the end the 8-7 score was that Chicago was the last team standing.   Ben Zobrist won MVP honors but there was others that contributed.  Chapman's amazing game 5 performance, Addison Russell's grand slam. Craig Heyward's defensive gems of nailing runners out at the plate.  It certainly was a team effort of players.  The likes of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Russell in the infield.  While Zobrist was November magic, I still think getting back Dexter Fowler was essential for the Cubs to win it all.  As with the DH rule and using Kyle Schwarber.  The catching department Contreras and Montero but the old guy David Ross, my favorite Cubs player of this season, who can hit and could pitch as well although he wasn't needed during the Series.  But of course, this could have not happen if it wasn't for the efforts of Theo Epstein, who in 2004 gave Boston their first WS win in many years and then in 2010 cast his lot with the Cubs.  Yes, the first four years were tough but beginning in 2015 things begin to pay off big time.  And in reality, The Cubs won it sooner than predicted, they were still at least a good year or so away, but last year they got in as a wild card and took out Pittsburgh and St. Louis.  This year, not only they went into the world series, they won it and in dramatic fashion.

You can now forgive Bill Murray and Vince Vaughn for their awful versions of Take Me Out To The Ball Game and it's nice to see Murray join the team in the celebrations.   You can love Eddie Vedder for his 7th inning who somehow provided a spark to the Cubs.  And isn't it time to finally quit putting Steve Bartman to shame?  After all, he is just as a fan as Bill Murray or Eddie Vedder or Vince or John Cusack.  You can point your fingers in the skies and raise a toast to the previous Cubs who were watching from the Great Beyond.  The  Tinker/Evers/Chance combo, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Jim Hickman, Vince Lloyd and Lou Broudreau, the best Cubs announcers on the radio in the 70s, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Carey (Cmon, Grandpa Smith, you can have a beer with him, he was a Cubs announcer although you didn't live long to see that happen).   To win a championship, that can never be taken away.  Leon Durham can now smile again too. You too Moises Alou.   It's what I have waited my whole life for.   And it's a great feeling too.

And thank you too Cleveland Indians for a being a gracious host and worthy opponent. You got a classy manager and great team, you'll be back next season.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Baseball Champions, The Chicago Cubs.  You're in the history books.

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