The last time the Cubs won the World Series,
- Roosevelt–Theodore, not Franklin–was President;
- the Industrial Revolution was just getting started;
- Russia was still in the Czar era;
- World War I had not yet begun;
- there was no Federal income tax, no Federal Reserve, no universal suffrage;
- Helen Keller was only 28 years old.
Fast-forward to 2016…
The Chicago Cubs were on a mission: they wanted to shed their images as “the lovable losers”.
Throughout the season, they were unstoppable, piling up the best record in baseball.
In the National League Championship Series, they fell behind 2-1 to Los Angeles, but rebounded to win the next 3 games to close it out.
For the first time in over 70 years, the Cubs were in the World Series. Their opponents–the Cleveland Indians–were in a drought of their own, without a title in over 70 years. (They came close in 1995 and 1997, losing in six games to the Yankees and Braves, respectively.)
The Indians had one of the best pitchers in baseball in Corey Kluber, and a bullpen that could shut down any team.
The Cubs had excellent pitching, with their closer–Aroldis Chapman–having the best fastball in the game.
This was going to be a great matchup: fine pitching, fine hitting, and managers willing to take big bets to win games.
Cleveland took the initiative in game 1, with Kluber and the bullpen shutting out the Cubs, 6-0.
(I figured that was not the end of the world, as the Cincinnati Reds came back in 1975 to win in 7 games, in spite of getting shut out in game 1 by the same score.)
The Cubs battled back in game 2, with Jake Arrieta shutting down the Indians.
They had gained home-field advantage, with the series heading into Chicago for games 3, 4, and 5.
Then, the bottom fell out for the Cubs: Andrew Miller combined with Cody Allen to shut out the Cubs in game 3, 1-0.
In game 4, Kluber pitched another gem to put the Indians up 3-1.
Not since 1979, when Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Omar Moreno, Bill Robinson, and Tim Foli teamed up with Jim Rooker, Bert Blyleven, John Candelaria, and Kent Tekulve to lead the Pirates in an epic comeback against the Baltimore Orioles, had a team come back to win from 3-1 down with two of those games being on the road.
For the Cubs to break the curse, they would have to do exactly that, facing Corey Kluber in game 7 if they got that far.
In game 5, John Lester pitched the game of his life, with Chapman closing it for the save, sending the series back to Cleveland.
In game 6, the Cubs, silenced by the Indians’ pitching staff all series, finally regained their hitting. Aroldis Chapman closed out the game.
Going into game 7, the Cubs had a date with a pitcher they had not beat. Corey Kluber was 2-0 against them. And their main closer, Aroldis Chapman, was in a precarious position, as he was very tired from pitching two straight nights.
The Cubs would open the game up with a Dexter Fowler home run. This was an ominous sign for Kluber.
While the Indians would tie it up in the third inning, the Cubs would blow the game open, going up 5-1.
Going into the 8th inning, the Cubs led 6-3. They brought in Aroldis Chapman to set up for the close.
Chapman didn’t have it: he gave up 3 runs, but managed to retire the side with a tied game.
The Cubs had gained the lead, then lost it, then blew it open only to lose it.
Topping things off, they would see a rain delay.
But in the 10th inning, the Cubs would fight back, with some clutch hitting by Ben Zobrist, putting them up 8-6.
But could they hold court in the bottom of the inning?
Carl Edwards would get two outs, but the Indians battled back to cut the lead to 8-7 with 2 outs.
In comes Mike Montgomery, who got Michael Martinez to ground out.
The baseball demons are now officially dead.
The Second Coming cannot be far behind.