The Cubs' World Series curse had to end in the most dramatic way possible and it did
It took 108 years, yes, and it turns out getting a hell of an ending makes it all worthwhile
CLEVELAND -- They earned it. Every ounce of it. They scratched past 108 years of history, through a curse that is real, and if you say otherwise you didn't watch or grasp that stunning and remarkable Game 7. The Chicago Cubs: World Series champions. Even typing these words, sitting here as Cubs fans sing Go Cubs Go early Thursday morning at Progressive Field, seems somehow both not real and utterly, wholly earned.
They fought back from down 2-1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
They fought back from down 3-1 in this series against the gritty and formidable Cleveland Indians.
They fought through Corey Kluber in Game 7 of a World Series that, if there has been a better one, you'll have trouble getting me to believe it.
They fought to a 6-3 lead in that Game 7 and to within eight outs of a World Series, and they blew that lead. Aroldis Chapman, star closer, sure thing, promptly coughed up a double that scored a runner inherited from Jon Lester and then, a short time later, a two-run homer by Rajai Davis that quelled all hope. Or so it felt watching, as a Cubs fan, as Cleveland shook and celebrated and reveled, and as the sky fell in on top of Chicago.
Then, curses be damned, they somehow fought through that too.
And spare me your sanctimonious there-are-no-curses-silly-fool drivel. There are. Or at least there were. That thing -- curse, history, the transference of all those other teams' failures and doubts to the current one, whatever it was -- was real. It crushed Chapman. It turned cool-as-can-be hipster manger Joe Maddon into a panicked over-reactor who, time and again, gripped his team so tightly it nearly broke.
Only, the Cubs didn't break. What Maddon crafted from the baseball brain of Theo Epstein -- a Cubs team unlike any other in franchise history -- withstood even his own awful moments. (See: Take Jon Lester out too soon, take John Lackey out too soon, put Chapman in during a Game 6 with a five-run lead and, in Game 7, take Hendricks out too soon so he can bring Lester in too soon.)
My kids are Cubs fans, too, which is how these things go. And for which I felt real guilt during that rain delay that seemed to delay the Cubs suffering but actually served as a reset button -- stomping out the Indians momentum and, miraculously, staving off the avalanche of doubt that should have been there for Chicago. My kids watched every minute of Game 7 from our home in Los Angeles, and the updates from my wife were, as the seeming collapse set in, less than optimal.
But when it was over -- when the Cubs scored two in the 10th, and when somehow the Cubs shut it down in the bottom of the inning despite giving up a run and allowing the tying run to get to first -- my wife sent me a note that somehow captured not just the win but the entirety of the Cubs and their long, winding history:
"You wait this many years, you get a hell of an ending."
And so we did. And how could it have been any other way? This is how the Cubs had to win. The Curse of the Bambino was bested by the Red Sox somehow winning the ALCS down three games to none against, of course, the New York Yankees.
Cleveland knows. They wake with heartbreak Thursday morning, but they are still a championship city because LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers mounted the greatest comeback in NBA history (like the Cubs, down 3-1 in the series) against a 73-win Golden State Warriors team that would have been the greatest team in history but for that Cavs triumph.
You want to best some lingering, weird, inexplicable sports darkness haunting your team for decades? Bring some real magic. And get ready for the ultimate challenge. And now add the Cubs to the list of teams who, haunted, overcame that in a way too stunning to believe.
Of course the Chicago Cubs had to storm back from down 3-1 in the World Series, knock out the insurmountables Corey Kluber
The story of the Cubs has been one of loss and ineptitude, but it turns out all of that was the buildup to the ending -- to the Cubs winning the World Series in the most incredible way possible.
It took 108 years, yes, and it turns out getting a hell of an ending makes it all worth while.
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