108 years in the making

108 years in the making

Tyler Mitzner, Sports Editor

The Chicago Cubs had the longest championship drought in sports history. After a routine throw to first by a falling all-star third baseman Kris Bryant, the drought was gone, and the Cubs were at the top of the baseball world for the first time since 1908. The road to the routine play, however, was anything but.

The Cubs started off the postseason in the best way possible. They rolled past the San Francisco Giants in the National League Divisional Series, winning the series 3-1. However, despite their dominant offensive showing, it was the experience gained that benefited the young Chicago team the most. The youthful squad learned how to win close games, execute blowouts, respond after a loss, and complete a comeback. The greatest game for the Cubs to experience baseball in October was Game 4. After trailing 5-1, they came together after a double by Ben Zobrist to overcome a four-run deficit. The Cubs showed maturity through their ability to play small ball. Instead of swinging for home runs each at bat, they utilized a next-man-up mentality to string hits together. This comeback was capped off by Javier Baez’s single to center field to take the lead in the 9th.

The National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers did not start off as smoothly for Chicago. In Game 1, the Cubs seemed unbeatable behind the pitching of Jon Lester, surging to a 3-0 lead. However, Los Angeles was able to claw their way back to tie the game at 3 in the 8th. The Cubs were able to respond with a grand slam from Miguel Montero, who came off the bench as a pinch hitter. The ability for the Cubs to respond to adversity in Game 1 played out into the bigger picture of the entire series. The Cubs trailed in a series for the first time in October when the Dodgers went up 2-1. However, Chicago never panicked, even when their great players showed signs of weakness; like when starting pitcher Jake Arrieta let up four runs in 5 innings. Instead, others stepped up, such as pitchers John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks, to drive the Cubs to victory.

In the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs used those lessons regarding maturity and next man up to win the title after trailing in the series 3-1. Each lesson was especially evident in Game 7. The Cubs faced adversity when they saw their four run lead dwindle to a tie in the 8th. Once again, they stayed poised.  During the rain delay in between the 9th and 10th innings, Outfielder Jason Heyward called a team meeting to remind the team how to achieve the success they had previously in the game. After timely hits from Ben Zobrist and Montero to retake the lead, and strong pitching from Carl Edwards Jr., the Cubs held the surging Indians at bay to win the game. Finally, Cubs fan can rejoice after 108 years.

During the postseason, the Cubs success came from many different sources. However, their greatest source was their resilience. Multiple times during the postseason, the Cubs faced adversity in different forms. They trailed in both the National League Champion Series and the World Series. They saw their usual sure hitters face slumps, such as Anthony Rizzo going 2-28 to start the playoffs. The Cubs’ regular starters had poor games, both Arrieta and Lester let up three runs or more in one game. Nonetheless, each time the Cubs were able to overcome these seemingly insurmountable odds. Other pitchers picked up the slack, other players had clutch hits, and the Cubs won both series in which they trailed.  

The Cubs victory in game seven of the World Series will go down as one of the greatest moments in the history of sports, right there with the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic Hockey game, as well as Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston in the first minute of the first round. Hopefully it won’t take 108 years to see them hoist another “W” flag in October.