When you’ve waited 108 years for a championship, what difference does another hour or so make?
The Cubs, trying to shake off the billy goat curse and a history of postseason futility, persevered through a rain delay and two Indians rallies to post an 8-7 victory in 10 innings in Game 7 of the World Series, clinching their first World Series title since 1908.
Teddy Roosevelt occupied the White House the last time the Cubs won a World Series. Harry S Truman was the president the last time the Cubs were even in the World Series before this season, which was 1945. Truman was also the president in 1948, which is the last time the Indians won a World Series.
One franchise’s drought had to end Wednesday night.
Ben Zobrist, who is accustomed to winning World Series, having won the World Series last season with the Royals, lined an opposite-field double to left field to drive in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, catcher Miguel Montero singled home an insurance run that turned out to be necessary when the Indians pushed across a run in the bottom of the 10th inning.
It didn’t appear that the Cubs would require 10th-inning heroics. They appeared comfortably on their way to a championship as they built a 5-1 lead. But then a series of events made long-suffering Cubs fans extremely nervous.
The curse didn’t die without a fight.
Two Cleveland runners scored on the same wild pitch in the fifth inning. That reduced the Cubs’ lead to 5-3.
The Cubs increased their lead to 6-3 in the top of the sixth on a solo home run by catcher David Ross, playing the final game of his career, off the mostly unhittable Andrew Miller. But true Cubs fans knew it was too early to celebrate.
The Indians scored 3 runs off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the eighth inning. Brandon Guyer doubled home a run to reduce the deficit to 6-4. Rajai Davis followed by lining a two-run homer to left field, tying the game at 6-6.
The Cubs put a man on third base in the ninth inning with one out, but couldn’t get the run home.
What additional torture was in store for the Cubs?
After the game advanced to extra innings, the teams had to endure a rain delay, adding to the angst of fans of both teams.
Once the rain subsided, though, the Cubs made their move. Zobrist’s double put the Cubs ahead. Montero’s RBI single gave the Cubs a two-run cushion.
The second run was essential because the Indians – and the curse – weren’t done yet. Guyer walked and then moved into scoring position without a throw. Davis singled Guyer home, reducing the Indians’ deficit to one run and chasing pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. from the game.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery induced a groundout from former Phillie Michael Martinez, sealing the victory, completing the Cubs’ comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, and lifting the curse.
This is the second long championship drought ended by general manager Theo Epstein, who did the same thing with the Red Sox.
This is the first World Series title for manager Joe Maddon, who reached the 2008 World Series with the Rays, who lost to the Phillies. Zobrist was with the Rays that year, but this year he and Maddon can celebrate a championship – along with millions of long-suffering Cubs fans.
Meanwhile, the Indians’ misery continues. This was their first World Series appearance since 1997, when the Marlins scored two late runs, including one against closer Jose Mesa in the 9th inning, en route to an 11-inning triumph in Game 7.
Their misery was more prolonged this season. The Indians built a 3-1 series lead, only to be denied by the Cubs in three opportunities to clinch.
You can view Wednesday’s epic Game 7 as the lifting of a curse or the continuation of decades of misery.
It all depends on your perspective.