World Series 7: CHC vs. CLE — The drought, the Goat, whatever, it’s over for a century

My social media is pretty divided, and it’s not about the election. I have to say I think I’m most upset by the fact that my postseason bracket looks worse than Bauer’s finger after it met with a drone. But as I don’t gamble or anything, it’s just my pride or whatever that’s hurt. All this because I kept guessing wrong, so I went with the opposite of my head and was wrong. And I have to say, for once, my heart was actually wrong. Logic told me the Cubs would win.

But truthfully, they almost didn’t. And truthfully, neither team really played “exceptionally well”. I mean, the Cubs racked up 3 errors, 2 of which allowed unearned runs. This really could’ve gone either way. It wasn’t obvious until the very end who had this game, and it made things a bit more interesting in the long run.

Neither starter, Hendricks (Cubs) or Kluber (Indians), had a stellar night, both pitching only into the 5th inning. Kluber failed to get a single strikeout, something he’s not done all season in any game. And collectively, both pitching staffs allowed far too many hits and runs to be called “good” in any manner. Only those relievers who can on for only a couple batters came out fairly clean, and that’s not really a fair assessment of statistics.

But unlike most of the games this postseason, tonight’s game wasn’t about the pitching (which somewhat explains the MVP award, more later), but rather the offense. The Cubs struck first when Fowler led off the game with a big solo home run straight up the middle to get things started. The Indians answered back in the 3rd when Crisp led off with a double, moved to 3rd on Perez’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Santana’s single. But with 2 runners on base and just 1 out, the Indians couldn’t do much to turn that into more runs, the story of the night for them actually.

In the 4th, the Cubs broke the tie with some small ball. Bryant led-off with a single, moved to 2nd on Rizzo’s hit-by-pitch, then to 3rd on Zobrist’s fielder’s choice, and finally scored on Russell’s sacrifice fly. Zobrist then scored on Contreras’ double to give the Cubs that insurance run. And Baez led off the 5th with a solo home run for one more.

Miller came on to relieve Kluber at this point, but couldn’t find that postseason momentum from earlier games. After an allowed single, Miller got a nice double play (upheld, thanks to a Cubs’ challenge), but then an allowed walk scored on Rizzo’s deep single.

But the Indians’ offense chipped away on the Cubs’ lead in the bottom of the 5th in a play very indicative of this game. With 2 outs, Santana walked and the Cubs pulled both Hendricks and catcher Contreras for the battery team of Lester-Ross (significant because this was Ross’ final game ever, as he’s retiring following this game). But Lester gave up a single, and Ross’ throwing error moved both runners up to scoring position. Lester’s wild pitch then scored both runners to keep Indians’ hopes alive and within 2 runs.

But Ross’ 1-out solo home run, a big shot over the center field wall, pushed the Cubs into what they felt was a comfortable lead. (It would be Ross’ final home run ever, by the way.) But there’s a trick in any professional sport — don’t get too comfortable.

In the bottom of the 8th, with 2 outs, Ramirez singled and the Cubs called on Chapman to make a 4-out save. Except he didn’t. Guyer came in and doubled to score Ramirez, and then Davis hit a 2-run home run to the left field seats. A friend of mine in the southwest asked online whether the sound he was hearing outside was thunder or the cries of disappointment from thousands of people in Illinois.

Progressive Field already had a strong Cubs’ presence in its stands, but when Davis hit that home run, the stands were literally shaking. The cheering outside the field in the plaza where it was standing room only for local fans was deafening. In that single play, Yogi proved once again to be the wisest man in baseball history. It wasn’t over. In fact, it felt like the entire game hit a reset button at that point. It was finally time for some real baseball.

And extra innings apparently. The game went into the 10th, after a bit of a rain delay, with both teams on opposing lakes praying for their respective players to be the ones who would break the tie and end their drought. As it was an offense-based game, the Cubs got the opportunity first. Schwarber led-off with a single and was pinch-run by Almora. After an intentional walk to Rizzo, Zobrist saw that opportunity and doubled home Almora. (For this reason, Zobrist was awarded the MVP of the World Series.) The Indians decided to load the bases with an intentional walk to Russell to go after the back-up, back-up catcher Montero. But then Montero did the improbably and singled home the insurance run.

Two outs later, and it was the Indians turn to make it turn in their favor. So they did what they did best — got two outs to put the pressure on everyone. Guyer worked a walk and moved to 2nd on defensive indifference before scoring on Davis’ single. This put the Indians within 1 run of the Cubs. So they weren’t taking any chances and called for a new reliever. Two pitches later, Rizzo pocketed the ground out ball as he made his way to the infield for the celebration.

Final score: 8-7 Cubs, in 10. Cubs win World Series 4-3.

Of course, the immediate jokes following the Cubs’ win tonight was something about meeting up in the next 108 years (which would be 2124 if you don’t feel like doing math). Now, I distinctively remember similar jokes about the Red Sox following their 2004 win, and it took them only 3 years to be World Champions again (and then 6 more years to do it again).

Like I said before, I think the Cubs as a franchise have a potential to be in the conversation as “good teams” for a bit now, much like how we refer to other “lovable underdogs” like the Mets. I don’t expect the Cubs to just drop in momentum, unlike say the Giants in odd years this decade or Red Sox following their 2013 win or the Royals this season after last year’s championship.

Not that I think they’ve somehow started a dynasty. I have a hard time believing in dynasties these days. Players move teams a lot now, even more than when they first introduced free agency. And front office executives are constantly on the look out for the newest young talent to break out and change the landscape of their team (like Sanchez this year with the Yankees). A dynasty needs consistency, and that’s not really something you see a lot in the game any more.

Maybe this is just a sentimental Yankees’ fan talking, but I think it’s okay to remember what was every now and then. It doesn’t make today or the future any less special. It’s just different. And sometimes, different is okay.

Go Yankees!

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