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Cubs Break 108 Year Old Drought, Win World Series

Cubs World Series

In an epic ten inning game that brought to an end the longest Championship drought in American sports, the Chicago Cubs won Game Seven of the World Series last night, beating the Cleveland Indians on the road after being down three games to one just a few days ago:

CLEVELAND — 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.

As the ball made its flight across the diamond, the stadium went silent for one of only a few times all night — and only until it settled into Rizzo’s glove. Then the huge contingent of Cubs fans erupted, and the players raced to the middle of the infield to celebrate.

“We’re world champions,” Rizzo said in the alcohol-soaked visitors’ clubhouse after he had taken a break from embracing the actor Bill Murray. “The Chicago Cubs are world champions. Let that sink in.”

Thousands of fans lingered for nearly an hour after the game, moving into the field level of the stadium, waving the ubiquitous W flags, singing the victory anthem “Go Cubs Go” and roaring when Rizzo held up the ball he had caught for the final out.

One fan held a sign: “Now I can die in peace.”

That sleep will no longer be tortured by old memories — of collapses in 1969, 1984 and 2003, and talk of curses of black cats, billy goats and Steve Bartman, the fan who infamously interfered with a foul ball in the playoffs.

“If you want to believe in that kind of stuff, it’s going to hold you back for a long time,” Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said. “I love tradition. I think tradition is worth time mentally, and tradition is worth being upheld. But curses and superstitions are not.”

On Wednesday night, the Cubs did not so much beat the Indians as survive them.

The heart-stopping end to the series — and the 108-year wait — carried with it an additional historical perk. The Cubs became the first team to rally from a three-games-to-one Series deficit since Kansas City did so in 1985 and the first to do it on the road since Pittsburgh in 1979.

Meanwhile, in this matchup of long-suffering franchises, the Indians’ suffering will carry on longer. They have not won since 1948 — and the excruciating way in which they suffered the defeat, with three consecutive losses — will take its place atop a list that until now was topped by the 1997 World Series, in which the Indians lost a ninth-inning lead, and eventually the Series, to Florida.

When the Indians retreated to their clubhouse during the rain delay, lockers were covered in plastic and Champagne was made ready.

“It’s going to hurt,” said Indians Manager Terry Francona, who called it an incredible game. “It hurts because we care, but they need to walk with their head held high because they left nothing on the field. And that’s all the things we ever ask them to do. They tried until there was nothing left.”

The Indians had overcome all season — the 24th-highest payroll in baseball was dented by injuries to outfielder Michael Brantley and pitchers Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and the loss of two players to drug suspensions — and they fought uphill all night, never taking the lead on Wednesday.

To win, the Cubs beat two of the most dominant pitchers in this postseason — the Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber, and their versatile reliever Andrew Miller — who gave up more runs on Wednesday than they had allowed in the entire postseason. They then had to bounce back after Davis’s home run.

The roller coaster of a game took place in an unusually neutral environment, with so many of the Cubs’ passionate and well-heeled fans finding their way into the stadium. The crowd of 38,104 was evenly split, and the two groups of fans spent the evening alternating full-throated roars, robbing the environment of any lulls. Not even the 17-minute rain delay affected their spirits.

They were the latest to witness the Cubs, who won 103 games in the regular season — the most in baseball — showing their mettle during the playoffs.

They rallied from four runs down in the ninth inning to eliminate San Francisco, which had won 10 consecutive elimination games. After being shut out for 21 consecutive innings by Los Angeles in the National League Championship Series, they rebounded to win three in a row — beating Clayton Kershaw in the clincher.

When the Cubs went to Wrigley Field on Sunday knowing they would have to win three in a row, Rizzo lightened the mood. He arranged for the “Rocky” movies to be played on all of the televisions in the clubhouse and then shadowboxed around the room while half dressed.

Rizzo’s message: The Series was going the distance.

More from the Chicago Tribune:

They tossed their hats and gloves into the air after the final out like joyous Little Leaguers and then threw themselves into each other’s arms like brothers — and this will connect them forever.

They sang along with “Go, Cubs, Go” as thousands of fans who wouldn’t miss World SeriesGame 7 for the world broke into song. They carried retiring catcher David Ross on their shoulders and wore wide-eyed expressions of disbelief to which every Cubs fan could relate.

The Cubs partied like it was 1908 after their 8-7 victory Wednesday over the Indians ended the longest, cruelest wait in sports.

“This about made me pass out,” World Series MVP Ben Zobrist said. “An epic battle. I can’t believe that after 108 years, we’re able to hoist the trophy.”

For generations of fans, the scene of the Cubs celebrating a World Series title will provide the most indelible images of Chicago sports for years to come. None of us will live long enough to see anything better, any moment packed with more meaning. This is the view from the top of the sports world, the center of baseball utopia, a place where doubt and dread and devastation no longer reside, a place the World Series-winning Cubs and their loyal fans now occupy.

At exactly 11:47 p.m. Wednesday at Progressive Field, decades of suffering ended when first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught third baseman Kris Bryant’s throw for the last out, officially marking the greatest moment in Chicago sports history. Holy cow, they did it, Harry. Hey, hey, Jack, the Cubs are World Series champions. Click your heels in heaven, Ronnie. The wait is over, Ernie, after all those seasons you believed when nobody else did.

The last great American sports story now has an ending, the happiest one ever, pleasing baseball romantics and fulfilling the lives of so many Cubs fans. Many of the longest-suffering ones will say they can die happy now, no exaggeration. The younger fans who consider Ryne Sandberg old will expect more championships to follow, and they will. The rest of us can celebrate the death of redundancy when discussing the Cubs because this forever changes their tradition.

It seems impossible to write yet harder to fathom. The Cubs have won the World Series. That is no longer a punch line or part of a movie pitch. The Cubs have won without pigs flying or hell freezing over. That might not sink in for Cubs fans until they stop smiling, maybe sometime next summer. Or maybe never.

Naturally for the Cubs, nothing came easily. They waited out a 17-minute rain delay before the 10th. And extra innings were necessary because of Joe Maddon’s unnecessary use of Aroldis Chapman 24 hours earlier with a five-run lead. Chapman came on in the eighth with the Cubs four outs from history, and his weary left arm gave up three runs — a double to Brandon Guyer and a two-run homer to Rajai Davis — to tie the score at 6-6. Every jaw back in Chicago hit the floor and every blood pressure rose. This felt like a cruel joke.

But the Cubs offense bailed out Maddon when Zobrist doubled and Miguel Montero singled to drive in runs in the 10th. Any second-guessing will be moot by the time the champagne dries. They can laugh about it at every reunion.

In rallying from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series, the Cubs culminated the five-year plan President Theo Epstein brought to town in 2011. Two years before Epstein arrived, the family of nerdy investment banker Tom Ricketts bought the Cubs for $745 million, talking about championships nobody took seriously.

Ricketts, a die-hard fan who met his wife, Cecelia, in the Wrigley Field bleachers, had visions of doing what the Cubs had not done since 1908. Ricketts’ legacy now becomes being the guy who helped make the dreams shared by so many fans like him come true.

Epstein surely will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame one day, known as the Curse Buster after ending a combined 194 years of waiting for the Red Sox and Cubs. His roster transformation gives the Cubs reason to believe they will be planning more parades. After more than a century of futility, faith in the Cubs is no longer blind — not after becoming the first champions since the Royals in 1985 to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit.

For years, of course, the hapless Cubs were the team that nearly everyone except perhaps their rivals on the other side of town felt sorry for. Cubs fans no doubt grew frustrated at the jokes, at the people who pointed out that the last time that their team had won the World Series much of Central Europe was divided between the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, Russia was still ruled by the Czars, and the Middle East by the Ottoman Empire, and at the idea that maybe there really was something to the legend about the team having been cursed for refusing to allow a Billy Goat to attend a game at Wrigley Field. For a time, it was probably the case that the fact that the last win had been in 1908 wasn’t that big of a deal. After all, the team had found a way to make it to the World Series seven times between 1908 and 1945 even if they did ended up losing the series itself. After 1945, though, it seemed as though the team found a way to fall short even when it seemed impossible that they could do so. Late season collapses, losses in the postseason that seemed as if they were the stuff of parody (see e.g., Bartman, Steve), and eternal disappointment. on a scale that perhaps only Boston Red Sox fans could understand. Last year, when it seemed like the curse might finally be broken, the team once again faced frustration at the hands of the New York Mets as they had back in 1969.

This year, though, the Cubs were seemingly unstoppable. From the beginning of the season, they surged to the front of the National League Central Division and didn’t look back. Win after win piled up as the team that Theo Epstein built came together to win 103 games that dwarfed any other team in baseball this year. They dominated through the post-season, knocking back challenge after challenge with an ease that made one forget that this was the same team once known as the eternal “cellar dwellers” of the National League. What was different this year, though, is what happened when the seemingly unstoppable Cubs found their backs against the wall. After Game Five at Wrigley on Saturday night, they were down three games to one and faced the prospect of having to win the last game at home and then sweep the Indians on the road, something that hadn’t happened in the World Series since the 1985 Royals. Instead of folding, though, these Cubs turned their back on the curse and went on to post two impressive and decisive victories that forced last night’s Game Seven that, seemingly appropriately, didn’t end until going into extra innings.

So now, the curse is broken, the jokes can stop, and long-suffering Cubs fans can enjoy a well-deserved Championship. Congratulations guys, it’s about time.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    The Cubs are loaded with talent, they could well end up in the World Series in 4 or 5 times in the next half-dozen years.

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  2. RockThisTown says:

    108 years down the drain . . . . .

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  3. Franklin says:

    I tried not to care. I was smart enough to turn the game off at around 10:30 so I could get some sleep, with the Cubs up 6-3. But then I had to come back downstairs for something and decided to check it … I saw the Indians tie it up and then I knew I had to watch the rest.

    Great game, but I’m exhausted today.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    Growing up in Chicago it was accepted wisdom (at least for us South Siders) that the owners of the Cubs (The Wrigley family and then the Trib) had no interest in investing what it would take to field a winning team. They could cheap out, and make a tidy profit from the loyal fans or they could take a chance and invest a lot of money with no guarantees. And for 70 years, that’s what happened. I don’t know much about Ricketts, the owner since 2009, but I suspect a huge amount of the credit needs to go to him.

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  5. Aelio says:

    Watched some of it too. What a nail-biting game. All of the drama. I was watching a video feed of the crowd outside the Cubs’ HQ which was awesome to share.

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  6. Larry Dolan says:

    Chicago? Those guys?

    A bunch of bums. Who cares.

    (… wait until next year! )

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  7. Guarneri says:

    @MarkedMan:

    They adopted the Patriots, Redwings, Blackhawks model. You will be seeing a lot of them.

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  8. John Peabody says:

    Next World Series win in 2124?

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  9. @MarkedMan:

    Ricketts does deserve a lot of the credit in that he’s been far more willing to open up the checkbook and do what was needed to create a team that could become a contender for the long-term. Hiring Theo Epstein was another smart decision because even this Yankees fan will admit he is the person largely responsible for getting the Red Sox to the World Series and beyond the Curse of the Bambino. I’d also add that Joe Maddon shouldn’t be forgotten either. He made several managerial calls this series that I thought were questionable, but he’s also taken teams to the WS before and he knew what to expect.

    As someone noted in a comment above, right now the Cubs have a team that has a chance to be real postseason contenders for years to come. Good for them.

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  10. @John Peabody:

    If the team can keep it up, they’ll have legitimate shots at the postseason for years to come

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  11. john430 says:

    Boy, I’m SOOOO glad I turned to OTB today! I couldn’t find the World Series stories anywhere.

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  12. Tyrell says:

    The law of averages finally drew their number.

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  13. al-Ameda says:

    @john430:

    Boy, I’m SOOOO glad I turned to OTB today! I couldn’t find the World Series stories anywhere.

    Obama and Hillary like the Cubs so I understand your depression.

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  14. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I grew up in the Boston area in the 70s and 80s, so I definitely think that I understand what this means for Cubs fans. Very happy for them to have this win. And to do so in such a memorable way will, I think, be even more meaningful for the generations of Cubs fans.

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  15. Mister Bluster says:

    anyone can be a pill john
    it doesn’t take any talent
    and it’s nothing to be proud of

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  16. Franklin says:

    @john430: Luckily you took the time to click the link and even comment! So much hard work on your part, good job!

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  17. Guarneri says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Obama pretends to be a White Sox fan. Hillary will be a fan of whatever team you like. Just remember your checkbook.

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  18. Pch101 says:

    From the Let’s-Hope-That-Correlation-Equals-Causation Department, a Cubs win bodes well for Clinton.

    http://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2016/11/02/world-series-game-7-chicago-cubs-cleveland-indians-election

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  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    Having grown up in and now back in the Boston area and suffered through the pain of 67, 75 and especially 86, I know how Cubs fans feel. Congrats to the Cubs, no longer lovable losers.

    Doug, a minor point, Dan Duquette should get a large share of the credit for the 04 RS WS winners. Theo iced the cake getting Schilling Theo should be credited with building the organization that got them back in 2007 and 2013. Ben Cherington was Theo’s go to guy.

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  20. Hal_10000 says:

    One of my favorite comments on Twitter last night was: “And then Theo wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer”. If he retired today, he’d go into the HOF.

    It’s a great time to be a fan. The massive amount of revenue going through the league office (and thus equally to all 30 teams) has leveled the playing field a bit. Rich teams (like the Cubs) still have an advantage but it’s not an overwhelming one and smart teams (like the Royals or A’s) can compete. Just since 2001, we’ve seen championship banners fly in Boston, in Anaheim, in Philadelphia and over both side of Chicago.

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  21. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Obama pretends to be a White Sox fan. Hillary will be a fan of whatever team you like. Just remember your checkbook.

    Yeah, I hope Trump doesn’t owe you any money.

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  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Guarneri:

    Obama pretends to be a White Sox fan. Hillary will be a fan of whatever team you like. Just remember your checkbook.

    When Hillary was running for Senator in NY she proclaimed she was a Yankee’s fan. Of course the Republicans immediately berated her for being a phony. But when challenged about it she ran down the line up of the Yankee’s from when she was a kid, and gave the highlights of several seasons worth of ups and downs. It turns out that although she was raised a Cubs fan, being a Chicagoan and a North Sider (shudder) she also felt she needed to root for an American League team too (and of course, that could not be the White Sox. I mentioned she was a North Sider?). She picked the Yankees. So, she obviously knew the Yankees although admittedly more from her childhood than as she got older. Her campaign released a picture of here as a gangly teenage wearing a Yankees cap. Several of her friends and acquaintances from that era vouched that she was a big baseball fan and she definitely cheered for the Yankees.

    But none of this is good enough for the Clinton haters bellied up to the bar barking loudly enough so everyone can overhear their endless opinions about what a phony she is, what a liar, what a devious b*tch she is, and you know she’s had people killed right?

    And there are other people who maybe don’t know but hear the talk about how she’s a phony and think that with all that talk there must be something to it. And so something that Clinton was obviously delighted by, the fact that she was campaigning in NY and she could at last talk about her childhood Yankee fandom without it being a negative, was turned into yet another example of how she can’t be trusted. Is it any wonder Clinton has developed a reflex to not reveal anything she doesn’t have to? To make a script and stay on it?

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  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I’ve been (and remain) a diehard Orioles fan essentially from the cradle on, but kudos to the Cubs for this well-earned success. They’ve waited a long time for it.

    Well done, gentlemen. Well done indeed :-)

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  24. bookdragon says:

    It was a great game, the sort even someone like me who ranks baseball last in my list of team sports (#1 – football, #2 – hockey…), could enjoy watching.

    Despite growing up in Ohio, I was cheering for the Cubs. My husband is from Chicago and has been waiting his whole life for this. Besides, I’m originally from Pittsburgh so I’m naturally inclined to root against Cleveland regardless. 😉

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  25. barbintheboonies says:

    It was so nice to have a break from all the negativity. So happy for the Cubs and for the Indians as well they played their hearts out and should be proud as well. Hope they win next year, I am from Boston and I left so long ago, but when they won a few years back I got chills It felt great. Actually I teared up with happiness. Enjoy Chicago.

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  26. barbintheboonies says:

    @Mister Bluster: You are so right enough with the negative vibes for just a little while.

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  27. Tyrell says:

    @john430: Most of the news networks gave an ample amount of coverage to this story. I don’t know what stations you were looking at or what time. So some of them did decide to turn away from their non-stop coverage of the political mud races for a while.

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  28. Mister Bluster says:

    Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Update Sunday Nov. 6, 2016
    This has been fun.
    When I see a Cubs cap or shirt or car sticker it’s 
”How About Those Cubs?” The feedback is always Hey! Hey! Smiles or a Thumbs Up!

    Yesterday I saw a guy with his Cub hat cocked to the side like Cub reliever Carl Edwards Jr.
    
”How about them Cubs?” I ripped.
    
He looked straight at me.
    
”I’m an Indians fan. I lost a bet. 
I gotta’ wear this cap till Spring Training.”

    I laughed out loud!

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