By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
The Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs, as well as their fan bases, have been waiting for a combined 176 years to bring a World Series title back to their respective cities. For Chicago, it has been a brutal 108 years. For Cleveland it has been a heart-wrenching 68. In 2016, these two teams collided in the Fall Classic setting the scene for a historic series. But only one of these droughts could come to a conclusion.
In a series with so much at stake, it was no surprise that it took a full seven games to decide a winner. With two cities set to hold their breaths for each pitch of the final game, it didn’t take long for Chicagoans to exhale and for Clevelanders to start praying. A leadoff home run from Dexter Fowler set the tone and the Cubs kept the bats rocking all night long on their way to a 8-7 extra inning victory in a World Series game that won’t be soon forgotten by anyone.
In Game 1, the Indians pitching staff led by their ace Corey Kluber locked down the Cubs lineup and shut them out 6-0 — a statement win for the team who entered the series as the underdog. But Cleveland thrives in the underdog role and they proved it from the get-go. The Cubs bounced back in Game 2 before dropping Games 3 and 4, as Cleveland ruined the homecoming party for Chicago, while reclaiming their home field edge.
The win put Cleveland on the opposite end of the spectrum from when their neighbors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, trailed 3-1 and had to rally back and win 3-straight games to capture the team’s first NBA title and the city’s first championship in 52 years.
Unfortunately for the Cleveland faithful, “The Land’s” second title in less than six months wasn’t meant to be. The Cubs rallied to three straight wins, two of those coming on the Indians’ home turf, to take the series 4-3 and bring the 108 year drought to a memorable culmination.
Along with the over 100-year wait, the other thing that came to a finale on the second night of November was the career of veteran catcher David Ross. He didn’t start the ballgame, but when Lester entered in the fifth inning, Ross was right there with him. And in the sixth, Ross capped off a brilliant career with one last home run as he said farewell to his 15-year career.
The blast came just after the Indians scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth and served as a serious buzzkill to a Cleveland team that seemed poised to rally. Cleveland could never quite fight back. An eighth inning 2-run blast by Rajai Davis tied the game and sent it into extras. But a 2-run 10th inning, that followed a rain delay, ultimately lifted the Cubs to the crown.
For the Cubs and the city of Chicago, it was pure elation. A title that could be the first of many for a team loaded with young homegrown talent like Bryant, Baez, Russell, Rizzo and Contreras. It finally put an end to “The Curse of the Billy Goat” and took a tremendous amount of pressure off the Cubs’ teams of the future.
Well, they had to wait 108 years and until the 10th inning of Game 7, but the Cubs finally won the Fall Classic.
For Cleveland, it was heartbreak. As the postseason went along, things began to feel like destiny for the Tribe after they sailed to the AL pennant with a 7-1 record in the ALDS and ALCS combined even without their second and third starters.
Needing just one win in the final three games, another title in Cleveland in 2016 didn’t seem so much about if, but rather a matter of when. A team that overcame so much and got so close will have to regroup and look to next year where under the direction of Terry Francona they could very well be back in the Fall Classic.
But as history has proven, it isn’t easy to get back. Nothing is ever promised. For the Indians the 68-year drought has flipped to 69 and the Indians now own the longest title drought in the MLB. They will be hoping to put a halt to that just as the Cubs did.
From a die-hard Cleveland fan — congratulations, Chicago. Thanks for a memorable series and a thrilling Game 7. We hope to see you again next year.
I guess the old Cleveland adage is back. “Maybe next year, Cleveland. Maybe next year.” We will be back. Just keep on believing.