By Justin Schaefer
Following the last game of the Chicago Cubs’ 1991 season, legendary Cubs radio and television broadcaster Harry Caray said, “As sure as God made green apples, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series and that may be sooner than we think”. It was a big prediction considering that the Cubs hadn’t won the World Series since 1908 and hadn’t even won the pennant since 1945.
Caray’s prophecy came true against the Los Angeles Dodgers – fittingly, at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have played their home games since 1916 (8 years after their last championship) – on October 22, 2016. The Cubs won the NL pennant for the first time since 1945 and thus were going to the World Series to face off against the American League champion Cleveland Indians – who are also in a serious World Series championship drought, as they haven’t won it since 1948.
The Cubs were down 3-1 going into Game 5 as they were blanked in game 1 6-0 by a strong outing by Corey Kluber, then bouncing back in Game 2 by the score of 5-1 with a strong outing by Jake Arrieta. Game 3 saw the Cubs lose a tough one 1-0 as both Josh Tomlin and Kyle Hendricks were on top of their game, but the Cubs offense went cold. This was then followed by a bad 7-2 loss in Game 4 and just like that the Cubs had their backs against the wall, down three games to one in the series. It’s a tough place to be in, as the only other teams to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a World Series were the Kansas City Royals in 1985, Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 the Detroit Tigers in 1968, the New York Yankees in 1958, and the Pirates again, way back in 1925.
The Cubs were able to rally back with big wins in Game 5 and Game 6 by scores of 3-2 and 9-3. behind clutch pitching performances by Jon Lester in Game 5 and Jake Arrieta in Game 6. Game 7 saw a pitching matchup of Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Corey Kluber of the Indians. Kluber in the postseason going into Game 7 was 4-1 with an ERA close to 1.99, and borderline unsolvable. The Cubs were blanked by him in Game 1 and in Game 4 only got one run off him, which came in the first inning. The Cubs proved everyone wrong as Kluber allowed a leadoff home run to Dexter Fowler and was then taxed for four runs in four innings of work. Going into the 8th inning the Cubs were up 6-3 and with two outs and a man on first, Joe Maddon turned to his overpowering closer Aroldis Chapman, who at this point had now been used in three consecutive games. Chapman proved ineffective in the 8th as he allowed an RBI double to Brandon Guyer and a game tying home run to Rajai Davis, sending the Cleveland crowd into an all out frenzy. After a missed scoring opportunity by the Cubs and an uneventful half by the Indians the game then moves on into extra innings only to be delayed by heavy rain for close to 20 minutes. The Cubs came out from the rain delay (after a legendary motivational speech from Jason Heyward) and put up a two run inning with clutch RBI hits by World Series MVP Ben Zobrist and backup catcher Miguel Montero.
The Cubs give their fans yet again another heart attack as, with one out keeping them from the throne, reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. walked Brandon Guyer and surrenders an RBI single to the hero from earlier, Rajai Davis. Luckily for Cubs fans, it would be for not, as Michael Martinez would ground out to Kris Bryant at third, finally and forever ending the Cubs’ 108 year drought.
A victory parade like no other finally took place in downtown Chicago on Friday, November 4, and with an estimated 5 million people in attendance (which, by the way, is twice the population of Chicago.) The turnout made this parade the seventh largest human gathering of all time. It even came a small one million people short of matching Pope Francis’ 2015 induction in Manilla.
My old roommate and ex teammate who was here at Valley is a die hard Cubs fan and at the time I met him I was indifferent about the Cubs. As the year went on though he showed me what kind of a team they could be and what being a Cubs fan was all about. I learned to respect this great team and historic franchise and I knew great things were coming their way. I can’t even imagine what emotions his and his family were having during the game and then when that third out was made. His and the rest of Cubs nation can now rejoice as their beloved Cubs have finally reached the promised land of Baseball.
Somewhere, Haray Caray and Ernie Banks – better known by his beloved nickname, “Mr. Cub” – are smiling ear to ear. The streak – and the suffering – is finally over.