It took until the 10th inning of the 7th game, but the Chicago Cubs finally captured their first World Series title in 108 years. The championship is the franchise’s third all-time (1907, 1908) and ends the longest title drought in all major North American sports history. Theo Epstein, famous for helping the Boston Red Sox end the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, can now add the Curse of the Billy Goat to his resume. Manger Joe Maddon, criticized heavily for his usage of reliever Aroldis Chapman in Games 5 and 6, is all smiles now as Chapman earned the win tonight in the decisive Game 7. Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist, who won a championship last season with the Kansas City Royals, was named the World Series MVP. Zobrist had the go-ahead RBI on a double in the top of the 10th inning, scoring pinch runner Albert Almora Jr.
The Cubs got off to a quick start Wednesday night in Cleveland, as Dexter Fowler hit the first-ever leadoff home run in Game 7 of the World Series. The Indians would answer in the third, with Coco Crisp scoring on a Carlos Santana RBI single, but Chicago would blow the game open over the next two innings. Addison Russell, coming off a 6 RBI night in Game 6, hit a sac-fly to center field which score Kris Bryant and rookie catcher Willson Contreras doubled, scoring Ben Zobrist, and giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the 5th, 22-year-old second baseman Javier Baez hit a solo homerun and Anthony Rizzo added a RBI single, pushing Chicago’s lead to 5-1. In the bottom of the 5th, skipper Joe Maddon decided to pull starter Kyle Hendricks (ND, 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 2 K) with two outs, calling upon Game 5 starter Jon Lester. With two outs and two on, Lester threw a wild pitch behind catcher David Ross, which scored Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, pulling the Indians within two. Ross answered back in the 6th, with a solo shot of his own, regaining a three run lead for his club.
In the bottom of the 8th inning with Aroldis Chapman on the mound, the Tribe pulled even thanks to a RBI double by Brandon Guyer and a 2-run homer by former UCONN slugger Rajai Davis, tying the game 6-6. The game would remain tied through the 9th inning and, after a 17 minute rain delay, entered extra innings. Bryan Shaw, who entered the game just before the delay with one out in the top of the 9th, remained in the game for the 10th.
Kyle Schwarber, who has been red hot since returning from knee surgery in April which caused him to miss the entire regular season, led off with a single to right field. Albert Almora Jr. was called upon to pinch hit for Schwarber. Kris Bryant was at the plate next, and flew out to Davis in center, with the runner moving up to second. With first open, Shaw intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, bringing Ben Zobrist up to bat. He connected with a cutter from Shaw and sent it down the left field line for a double, scoring Almora and moving Rizzo up to third. After another intentional pass to Addison Russell, Miguel Montero singled in his first AB of the night, scoring Rizzo and giving the Cubs an 8-6 lead.
The Indians made it interesting in the bottom of the 10th, when Rajai Davis singled off of Carl Edwards Jr. with two outs, which scored Brandon Guyer, and pulled the Tribe within one run. Maddon made another pitching change, calling upon Mike Montgomery, who was able to get Michael Martinez to hit a grounder to Kris Bryant. With his throw across the diamond to Rizzo at first, the celebration began as the North Side witnessed their first World Series championship in 108 years.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who joined the club after resigning from his post as Red Sox’s GM at the end of the 2011 season, deserves all of the credit in the world for Chicago’s new found success. In the winter of 2014, the Cubs signed manager Joe Maddon, and added center fielder Dexter Fowler and rookies Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber, all of whom played vital roles in tonight’s Game 7 victory. He also played a role in the development of Anthony Rizzo
The Cubs finished the 2016 regular season at 103-58, clinching the NL Central division title for the 4th time in team history. It was also the first time since 1910 that they won 100 or more games in a season. In the NLDS, the Cubs swept the wild card winners, the San Francisco Giants, in four games, advancing to the NLCS. Looking for their first NL pennant since 1945, the Cubs beat the Dodgers in six games. The Indians pushed them to the edge, jumping out to a 3-1 lead in the series, but Chicago fought back, forcing a Game 7 with 3-2 and 9-3 victories. History was made early Thursday morning in Cleveland, as the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years.
Back to the Future Part II may have been a year early, but Parks and Rec was spot on. In the second episode, entitled “Ron & Jammy”, of the shows final season, the cast is in Chicago during the summer of 2017:
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