Cubs Win Their Greatest World Series Game in 108 Years
So, what's next for Theo Epstein?
- Dude and Terry Francona break an 86-year dry spell for the Boston Red Sox; and then
- Dude and Joe Maddon bring the Chicago Cubs their first World Series title after 108 seasons.
That'd be Epstein.
The Cleveland Browns?
Let's not get carried away, here.
Home of the NBA champion Cavaliers. And now, the possessor of the longest World Series drought in baseball.
But talk about going down in a blaze of glory:
Anyone who saw Game 6 knew this was destined to be a bat rattler.
Both Joe Maddon and Terry Francona had shortened their pitching staffs so much, it was inevitable that the hitters who got their teams this far would see them enough to make adjustments.
It's no secret that at this level, hitters look to focus on one pitch. Aroldis Chapman's heater may average 100mph, for example, but Rajai Davis disdained the reliever's slider, went up on the bat, looked for a location, and struck when he got it:
Warhorse David Ross was playing the last game of his career, no matter what.
He had ample chances to gauge the Tribe's fixer, Andrew Miller. As with Davis, dude was rewarded for his observations and response:
As Yogi Berra famously said:
|Half of this game is 90% mental.|
Some players ignored that convoluted truism at their peril.
The nature of this game was that both Davis and Ross were guilty of defensive lapses, and both knew better:
- The Indians' center fielder caught Addison Russell's fly in the fourth too high above his head to get into a strong throwing rhythm, a miscue that was compounded by his not fully stepping into the catch. The lack of momentum and mechanics allowed baserunner Kris Bryant to successfully challenge the throw home.
- The grizzed Fuzzies' catcher got his footwork wrong in the fifth, causing a botched throw to first on Jason Kipnis' swinging bunt. And it only got worse from there, with a little help from Jon Lester:
Ironically, it could be argued that Lester was the game's most effective pitcher, possibly because he makes his living these days by constantly changing speeds.
They weren't alone in fielding issues that were the key undercurrent in this game. The Cubs' Javier Baez made up for a pair of them with a dinger of his own, but fate wasn't so balanced when Cleveland totally handed Chicago two runs in the fourth:
- With runners at first and second, Indians' first baseman Mike Napoli should've known Anthony Rizzo isn't a speed merchant, so
- There was no need to rush his throw to second in an attempt to begin a double play.
- Worse, this caused him to throw over Rizzo, causing Francisco Lindor to sky for it and totally eliminating any shot at a twin killing.
- Addison Russell's aforementioned fly to Davis should've been the third out instead of the sacrifice fly that it was.
- That also would've negated Wilson Contreras' follow-up RBI double, costing Cleveland two runs.
Those turned out to be rather influential in the wake of Davis' bomb off Chapman and the fact this game went into extras.
But there it is.
Give Maddon credit for keeping the team loose all season, but his mistrust of the Fuzzies' bullpen almost cost Chicago an historic occasion. It seemed like he was managing from panic.
As to Francona, he pushed decent in-game buttons, but starting Kluber three times only confirmed the greatness of Bob Gibson, who became an iron-man legend.
And as to the greatest World Series Game 7 of all time, compare the 2016 box score to that of 1960's decider:
And here's how the Pirates won it:
That broke a 35-year dearth for Pittsburgh. A mere pittance.
Cubs fans will let others decide platitudes. For them, this win was a near-religious experience.
Little did Cubs Nation know they've had a prophet since 1993:
Call it destiny.
And since a National League team won in this election year, perhaps President Hillary Clinton -- paging Wazzu's Jamal Morrow -- should get on the phone and start asking Theo Epstein about the Middle East.