Baseball

Chicago Cubs take the 2016 World Series: This WAS the year!

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cubsgraphic 108 years of pain. 108 years of doubt. 108 years of wondering if the North side of Chicago would ever bring home a World Series championship trophy. There was hope back in 1945, when the Cubs last made it to the Series, but inevitably fell short. There was hope in ’03, but the world instead met a man named Steve Bartman. The Cubs topped all of baseball in ’07, ’08 and ‘15 with some of the best teams in the sport, yet couldn’t quite grasp that long-awaited victory. But with a season on the line and a hungry city to play for, the Chicago Cubs showed the world what a party looks like when it’s 108 years in the making. The Chicago Cubs have won the 2016 World Series. In an epic conclusion to the MLB postseason, the Chicago Cubs were able to muster out just enough to overcome the Cleveland Indians’ championship push with a final score of 8-7 in game seven. The game’s scoring opened with the first batter of the game, when Dexter Fowler crushed a solo home run to dead center field. The Indians would return the favor in the bottom of the third with an RBI single off the bat of Carlos Santana to tie the game at one run apiece. The Cubs would then add on four more runs to make it 5-1 in the fifth inning through a sac fly by Addison Russell, a one-run double by Wilson Contreras, a solo shot to right-center field from Javier Baez and an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo. Cubs’ starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was chased from the game in the fifth inning and game five ace Jon Lester came in to provide relief pitching. With runners on second and third base, Lester threw a ball in the dirt that took a friendly hop for the Indians off of catcher David Ross’ mask, allowing both runners to score on the wild pitch, making it a 5-3 ball game. One of the game’s “storybook moments” happened as Ross, seasoned veteran and backup catcher, stepped up to bat in the sixth inning. Ross, who announced before the season that this would be his final year in baseball, has had quite the experience in his final year. “Grandpa Rossy,” as Cubs fans have come to know him, has been showered with reception from the Wrigley faithful and collected numerous regular season accolades such as catching Jake Arrieta’s second career no-hitter as well as hitting his 100th career home run. He even became an internet sensation through his teammates creation of the #YearLongRetirementParty campaign to celebrate the catcher’s 15 years in the game. Ross entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the greatest moment of his night and perhaps even his career came in the top of the sixth inning. The 39 year-old veteran, on a team full of 20-somethings, crushed a homer off of the Indians’ relief ace Andrew Miller, becoming the oldest player in history to hit a home run in game seven of the World Series. The Cubs were up 6-3 going into the eighth inning, but the game would be tied by the end of the frame. In a heavily debated move, Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought in relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman who had thrown over 60 pitches in the past two games combined. Brandon Guyer scored Jose Ramirez on a double off of Chapman’s 100 mph pitch, making it a two-run game. However, the Indians weren’t finished. With one runner on, Rajai Davis stepped up to the plate and answered with a two-run bullet into the left field stands, tying the game at 6-6. The Cubs had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 9th inning. Heyward reached on a fielder’s choice single, attempted to steal second and made it to third on a wild throw meant to pick him off while stealing second. With the runner on third, Javier Baez attempted a two-strike bunt, but struck out on a foul tip for the second out of the inning. Down to their final out, Fowler had a threatening crack of the bat, as he hit the ball straight up the center of the diamond, only to be robbed by an incredible defensive save by Franciso Lindor’s range at short stop, bringing up the bottom half of the inning. Chapman resumed as the Cubs’ pitcher in the bottom of the ninth, and had a much more effective frame. He got the Indians’ designated hitter Carlos Santana to pop out, fought hard to strike out Jason Kipnis and managed to get Lindor to pop out to right-field, sending this game seven of the World Series to extra innings. In a game that was constantly threatened by the possibility of rain, a downpour finally struck Cleveland, causing the game to be delayed for 17 minutes. In a moment of desperation, each ball club took the few moments to soak in the reality of what was to come next, either bitter defeat or championship glory. In a veteran move, Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward gathered the young Cubs players into the team’s weight room, where they awaited the end of the delay. Turns out he had quite the pep talk for the team. “I just wanted them to remember how good they were, how good we are,” Heyward said in a post-game interview. “Know how proud of them I was and that I loved them. That I mean it from the bottom of my heart.” All season long, Heyward has been in the spotlight. He signed a contract with the Cubs at the beginning of this season for a whopping $184 million to be paid over eight years, but has had many Cubs fans disappointed with the investment. The three-time Gold Glove award winner provided a batting average of .230 this season and has been under scrutiny amongst many fans for underperforming thus far. However, Cubs fans can find new ways to support the seasoned veteran, as the pep talk may have provided just enough spark in the team to finish the game on top. The Cubs scored two runs off of clutch RBI singles, provided by veterans Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero. The Cubs took an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the 10th inning. Carl Edwards Jr. came in to close the game and recorded outs for the first two batters he faced. However, he walked Brandon Guyer, who ended up scoring on Davis’ single, making it an 8-7 nail-biter with two outs in the tenth inning. Edwards Jr. was replaced by relief pitcher, Mike Montgomery. Montgomery and the Cubs were one out away from something 108 years in the making. Davis took his lead at first as Montgomery delivered the pitch to the Indians’ final chance: Michael Martinez. Martinez softly grounded the ball to third baseman Kris Bryant, who cleanly fielded the ball, tossed it over to first where Anthony Rizzo caught the ball and declared the Chicago Cubs as World Series champions. From Cleveland to Chicago to all around the world, parties took place all night as the Cubs celebrated, debatably, the most anticipated sporting event victory of all time. Bryant, this year’s all-but-certain National League MVP recipient, was noticeably overtaken by emotion as he recorded the final out of this historic team’s run in the postseason. “That’s one of the best games that anybody will ever see,” stated Bryant with tears and a huge smile. “This all sounds so good right now. I’ve never won at the team level. I’ve gotten personal awards, but this trumps everything…I am so happy, I’m out here crying.” Ben Zobrist was credited with the Cubs’ World Series’ MVP honors after he won the World Series with the Kansas City Royals in 2015. He discussed how being named MVP was a tribute to much more than just his experience, but many lifetimes of wait for a starving fan base. “This one about made me pass out,” said an energetic Zobrist. “The way this series was up and down, and then game seven here. It was just an epic battle. I can’t believe that after 108 years, we’re finally able to hoist the trophy.” As the Cubs took to celebration, David Ross was able to speak upon his grand exit from the sport of baseball in the best possible fashion, a world champion. “What a group of resilient winners,” said Ross, regarding his determined team. “These guys never quit and they always find a way to fight back…What a great journey. What a great way to end things off with these guys.” Maddon had nothing but high regards for opposing manager Terry Francona and his World Series runner-up team. “[The Indians] are outstanding,” stated Maddon. “This series had two very evenly matched teams with a lot of passion for the game itself. The entire organization is phenomenal…You could not be more entertained by any other series than this. This was a great moment for this sport and fans everywhere.” Nov. 2, 2016 will forever be remembered as a momentous day in sports history and our country’s history alike. Miracles can happen and superstitions can end. The Cubs are living proof of this. No matter whom you were cheering for, this game was truly one for the ages. A game seven situation in any major sport is automatically a thrilling experience. Sprinkle in the facts that the game went to extra innings due to a late-inning comeback, it was a high-scoring roller coaster ride and the game was to end a 68- or 108-year championship drought, and it’s safe to say that this game will not escape anyone’s memory for years to come. To all the loyal Indians fans out there: Don’t believe for a second that your team is a failure or disappointment. It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that blowing a 3-1 lead in a championship series is unacceptable. Sure, this will probably sting for a little bit, but look at what you accomplished! The Indians swept an American League favorite, Boston Red Sox team, then proceeded to lose just one game to the Toronto Blue Jays. The world saw just how efficient Corey Kluber can be, and we all became baffled with the emergence of postseason heroes such as relief pitcher Andrew Miller and shortstop phenom, Francisco Lindor. This Cleveland team is legit, and it’s a shame that a playoff drought had to continue for one of these two teams. As the Cubs’ “curse” comes to an end, be assured that the Indians are also poised for continued success in the future. To Cubs Nation: Soak it all up. You all are world champions! May your “W flags” fly high as you take in all of the memories from a truly historic season. Few were around for the last time the Cubs won it all back in 1908, but an entire world full of sports fans can now say they have seen this historic drought become fertile with victory. It wasn’t a dream that you made up while sleeping, the Cubs really did win it all! No more “just short” efforts or “close but no cigar.” No more “wait ‘til next year.” Take it all in Cubs fans. To quote Cubs’ broadcasting legend, Harry Caray, “Sure as God made green apples, someday the Cubs are going to be in the World Series, and that may be sooner than we think.” This WAS the year!
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