Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cubs on Verge of Dynasty With 2nd Title in 108 Years

Yes, the Cubbies did it!

Down three games to one and seemingly on the verge of elimination and still more torture, the Cubs battled back, finally winning Game 5 at Wrigley Field to provide their home fans with at least one World Series home game win. Then, they took Game 6 in Cleveland, for force a decisive Game 7.

Tonight was the night that it was to get decided, one way or the other.

And what a game it was! I am not a huge fan of baseball, admittedly, but that had to be one of the very finest games of baseball that I ever saw. I went to a Montreal Expos game back in 2002 against Philadelphia that ended in a Grand Slam home run to win it for Montreal, and that was probably the best and most exciting game that I watched, although this one was right up there, and had a lot more riding on it. A back and forth affair, although when the Cubs were leading 6-3 in the 8th inning, it looked like it was all but over.

Then, Cleveland's bats came alive, first cutting the margin to 6-4, and then tying the game up, and the home crowd erupted in Believeland!

But what happened next could not have been foreseen, much less predicted. Or, perhaps it could have been predicted, as these two particular franchises have been cursed for so long now, that a torturous extra wait during the end stretch of a tied World Series deciding Game 7 was perhaps predictable, given that the Cubs had gone so long without a championship, and the city of Cleveland had only just broken the curse with a Cavaliers championship early this year. 

What happened was that there was a rain delay of nearly twenty minutes in length, and apparently, that was all that the Chicago Cubs needed to refocus. Several of the players mentioned that they used that time as wisely as possible, to recharge and refocus.

When they came back out, they showed it.

The Cubs loaded the bases at the top of the 10th inning, and built themselves an 8-6 lead. Not insurmountable by any stretch, but a lead nonetheless, as the Cleveland Indians had to try and mount yet another improbable comeback just to stay in it.

This time, despite a scare or two, the Cubs defense held (although the Indians did manage to get a run), and Chicago finally secured the World Series win - the first for this particular franchise in well over a century!

Everyone has heard about it by now, right? Indeed, it was 1908 the last time that the Chicago Cubs won a World Series. This was the last team out of three (the other two being the Boston Red Sox, who had a championship drought that lasted 86 years, and the Chicago White Sox, who had a championship drought of 88 years) to finally end a championship drought that had lasted longer than the average lifespan - well over eight decades in each case. For the Chicago Cubs, it was well over ten decades, and almost going to eleven decades, although they finally ended that drought tonight.

To manage that feat, however, the Cubs had to overcome that 3 games to 1 series deficit, which is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. Usually, a team that is good enough to take such a commanding lead in a playoff series is also good enough to seal the deal. Ironically, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that ended the 54-year championship drought for Cleveland sports franchises, also had to overcome a 3 to 1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors in order to win it all.

So now, the Chicago Cubs finally managed to win another World Series, and have finally followed up on the tremendous promise of that 1908 team! Granted, all members of that previous World Series championship team are long gone, although these Cubs did not seem all that bothered by the pressure of such a long drought.

How long had it been? Well, neither of the two World Wars had yet been fought. Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, the Boer War in South Africa had only ended a few years before, and the Titanic had not yet sunk. Arizona and New Mexico were territories, and not yet states. San Francisco was still recovering fully from the major earthquake of 1906, just two years before. Most of the world map was still under European colonization. Women had not yet gotten the right to vote anywhere in the world.

In other words, it was a different world. A very different world.

But all of that is over now, and perhaps not all that surprisingly, the team that the Cubs defeated, the Cleveland Indians, now own the longest active World Series drought in the league (68 years and counting), followed by several teams that never won one.

What matters right now, however, was that the Cubs managed to win the World Series finally, once and for all! They ended the Billy Goat Curse, and are now the most recent champions in the baseball world.

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