CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs met their date with destiny Wednesday night. The longest championship drought in a major sport ended after 108 years with the Cubs beating the Cleveland Indians in an epic, 10-inning, 8-7 win in Game 7 of the World Series at Progressive Field.
The Curse of the Billy Goat? The Black Cat? Steve Bartman? Remove them from the baseball lexicon. The Cubs are champions for the first time since 1908, the first team to rebound from a 3-1 deficit and capture the crown on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Fueled by, of all things, a team meeting called by the disappointing big-money free agent signee Jason Heyward during a 17-minute rain delay before the final frame, Chicago scored twice in the 10th and survived a Cleveland rally in the bottom of the frame. Chicago’s Mike Montgomery got Michael Martinez to ground out to third base with the tying run on second to end the game and the drought.
“It was the best rain delay ever,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.
The contest rightfully will be remembered as one of the greatest World Series games ever. The Cubs blew a 5-1 lead, and with pitching options running out on both sides, found a way to win. For baseball, it was a showcase of how good the sport can be.
As Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of the Cubs, “They’re a good team — they keep coming at you. That was tough for them when we tied that. A lot of teams might fold after that, but they didn’t. They didn’t. And we didn’t either. We just ran out of time.”
The Cubs’ offense, sparked to life after going down three games to one in the series, kept percolating. The weight-bearing pillars of the Cleveland postseason run — the way ace Corey Kluber’s pitching covered for the injury-depleted rotation, coupled with the spectacular work of the Indians’ relievers — finally gave way.
They will be back.
And no, we don’t mean the Indians.
This is only the beginning for the Cubs.