Thursday, November 3, 2016

One For The Ages (Part 2)

 
Cubs End 108 Year Drought With World Series Title:

If you are going to endure years — no, generations — of futility and heartbreak, when you do finally win a World Series championship, it may as well be a memorable one.

The Chicago Cubs did just that, shattering their 108-year championship drought in epic fashion: with an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7, which began on Wednesday night, carried into Thursday morning and seemed to end all too soon.

When the Indians rallied with three runs in the eighth inning — including a two-out, two-strike, two-run thunderbolt of a home run by Rajai Davis off closer Aroldis Chapman — the Cubs found a way to beat back the ghosts of playoffs past.

After a brief rain delay following the ninth inning, they pushed two runs across in the 10th inning on a double by Ben Zobrist, the Series’s most valuable player, and a single by Miguel Montero.

The Cubs then had to hold their breath in the bottom of the inning when Davis hit a run-scoring single to pull the Indians to a run behind. But reliever Mike Montgomery replaced Carl Edwards and got Michael Martinez to hit a slow roller into the infield. Third baseman Kris Bryant scooped it up and threw across to first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The last time I meaningfully wrote about baseball on this blog was five years ago (10/29/11), at the conclusion of the Cardinals/Rangers slugfest.  And this is what I wrote about the Cardinals and that series as being one of the greatest of all time:
St. Louis was simply a team that had no business being there. Coming from 10 games back at the beginning of September (to beat our Atlanta Braves, no less) to win a wild card berth, no one expected them to go this far. They dumped the mighty Phillies, whipped the surging Brewers (who everyone predicted would win the Series back in March), and simply would not let the Rangers finish them off, going all 7 games to prove it.

The Cardinals were on their deathbed, with the priest ready to come in and administer final rights, several times. In game 6, to be within one out (one strike!) of being eliminated, only to keep coming back over and over...you know the Rangers were just shaking their heads, thinking "these guys are like cockroaches...you can't kill them off."
The great thing about the series just concluded is that you could substitute either the Cubs or the Indians for the Cardinals in those paragraphs and it would fit perfectly. They were both cockroach-like in their pursuit of the Series championship, both vanquishing opponents who were more heavily favored or certainly stacked (Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Dodgers), and both carrying the weight of long championship droughts (the Cubs since 1908, the Indians since 1948). And the Cubs then going down 3-1, only to come back and win it (the first time since the Royals in 1985) was just epic. Cubs manager Joe Maddon, a longtime favorite of mine going back to his early Rays days, is simply GOAT.

Was this series greater than the Cardinals/Rangers in 2011, or the Braves/Twins in 1991? Probably. In terms of the history, the rabidness of the fan bases, and the way the two teams kept grinding, playing each other out for out, duel to the death, all the way through extra innings in game 7? And the overwhelming national interest (caused from election fatigue no doubt)? I'd say yes. In fact, the interest in this series was much greater than any I remember, going back to the 70's.

Was it the greatest series of all time? I'll leave it to those much more knowledgeable in baseball history to answer that. But put it this way: I never thought the '91 or '11 series would be topped...and I think they just were.

One minor quibble: I would again implore the powers that be in the MLB and Fox to start these games earlier on the east coast. My kids were pissed they had to go to bed at the end of the 8th inning, but it was already 11:30pm edt, and the game wouldn't end until 1am. That is ludicrously late by anyone's standards. It makes me wish we lived on the west coast (game over at 10pm). 

Nonetheless, what a series and what another great October of MLB playoff  baseball. I'll conclude as I did five years ago (and even more prescient since it's about 80 degrees right now): "Winter isn't even close to being here in the south, but I'm already looking forward to spring."

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