by Andrew Blanchette
It is undoubtedly an exciting time in the baseball world. Fans of the sport witnessed history this October with the game’s most exciting storyline all season, resulting in the Chicago Cubs defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, 4-2. In the American League, the Cleveland Indians rolled through the Toronto Blue Jays in the championship series, 4-0.
The Chicago Cubs were baseball’s most dominant team this season, winning a league high 103 games. However, Chicago is undergoing a 108 year championship drought. The team hasn’t even been to the World Series since 1945. The franchise’s struggles are highlighted by the “Curse of the Billy Goat” in 1945, when a goat tavern owner was asked to leave the Cubs’ Wrigley Field because he brought a billy goat to the game and the stench was bothering fans. After his ejection he famously said, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” The Cubs gave themselves a chance to break the curse this year, when they cruised through the regular season and the National League playoffs to the World Series.
Sports teams in Cleveland as well had also been suffering from a long title drought. The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers recently ended their 52-year drought in June when they won the NBA Championship. After the Cavs title, the Cleveland Indians went on an 11 game win streak to take control of their division. They stayed hot most of the season, and easily grasped the title of the central division.
Despite this success, the Indians have not won a World Series since 1948. They also haven’t even competed in the championship since 1997 when they lost to the Marlins. Going into a tough playoff series with the Red Sox, most people didn’t have high hopes for a young, banged up Cleveland squad. Contrary to popular belief, they ended up sweeping Boston, 3-0 and cruised past the favored Blue Jays to end up the World Series.
Games 1 and 2 of the World Series would be played in Cleveland because of the fact that American League won the All-Star game, giving the Indians home field advantage. The pitching matchup in game 1 featured both team’s aces, Jon Lester of the Cubs and Corey Kluber of the Indians. Kluber got the better of Lester, as Cleveland jumped out early and didn’t look back as they rolled to a 6-0 win.
In game 2, the Cubs hitters got to Cleveland’s pitching. Three runs in the 5th inning by Chicago proved too much, as the Cubs evened up the series with a 5-1 win.
It wasn’t until Friday night when viewers saw the first World Series game played at Wrigley Field in 71 years. Just like in Cleveland, the atmosphere was electric. The game turned out to be a pitcher’s duel with only one run being scored in the 7th inning on an RBI hit by Cleveland’s Coco Crisp. Relief pitcher Andrew Miller shut down the Cubs in the late innings and the Indians won 1-0, taking a 2-1 lead in the series.
Game 5 on Saturday saw Kluber back on the mound for the Indians. Although he gave up an early run in the first, the Indians were able to get to Chicago’s John Lackey and put up 7 runs in a 7-2 win. Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in the series with the win.
In Sunday night’s must win for the Cubs, Jon Lester pitched a gem. An early home run by Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead. Chicago came back in the 4th inning with 3 runs and forced a game 6 with a 3-2 win by the Cubs.
Game 6 was back in Cleveland on Tuesday night and another must win for the Cubs. The pitching matchup featured Josh Tomlin of the Indians and Jake Arrieta of the Cubs. An early solo homer by Chicago’s Kris Bryant gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first. In the 3rd, Chicago blew it open with a grand slam by Addison Russell to make the score 7-0. They would go on to win 9-3 and tie the series at 3.
A curse would be broken and history would finally be made on Wednesday night in game 7. As the Cubs jumped out to a 5-1 lead, things weren’t looking promising for Cleveland. They found themselves down 6-3 in the 8th. With two outs in the inning, Cleveland was able to get a runner on base. An RBI double by Brandon Guyer followed by a 2 run home run by Rajai Davis tied the game. Neither side scored in the 9th, forcing extra innings. After a short rain delay, Chicago rallied to score twice in the 10th inning to take an 8-6 lead. Although Cleveland was able to push one across in the bottom of the 10th, Chicago closed it out and clinched their first World Series in 108 years.
It was truly a remarkable series considering the title droughts for both the Indians and Cubs. Most baseball fans are going to remember this as arguably one of the best World Series in history. Since the season has concluded, fans will have for spring training in February to come around again in order to enjoy the sport.