In a stunning game seven finish, and 108 years after they had won their previous World Series, the Chicago Cubs broke their curse and added their third world title in franchise history. Despite winning the Series, there was significant doubt as to whether or not the Cubs were going to be able to win the series. Cleveland had substantial momentum going into the World Series, as they had lost just one game the entire postseason. While their offense certainly left a lot to be desired, they had received a dominant performance from their pitching staff which was anchored by Andrew Miller, the ALCS MVP.
The Cubs, on the other hand, had to grit and grind their way to the World Series. As a team traditionally heralded for their offense, they had a more streaky performance. The Cubs did receive a formidable reinforcement in outfielder Kyle Schwarber. Schawarber, the Cubs franchise leader for postseason home runs, had torn his ACL early in the season and had been all but ruled out for the postseason. However, after a quick recovery and short stint in the Arizona Fall League, he was added to the postseason roster just in time for the World Series.
Despite the fact that Cleveland possessed all of the momentum, the Cubs were still favored by many experts to win the World Series. The Cubs were praised for having the more talented team despite the roster’s relative youth. The Indians, on the other hand, had more experience across the board and a much stronger bullpen. The first four games of the series were relatively uneventful as the Cubs struggled against Cleveland’s strong pitching. However, in Game five, the Cubs got big performances from Kris Bryant and Aroldis Chapman to stem the tide heading back to Cleveland for the rest of the series. In Game six, the Cubs poured it on the Indians in a 9-3 victory. In contrast to any other game, Game seven proved to be one of baseball’s most exciting postseason finishes in recent memory. The Cubs, after jumping out to an early lead behind Cy Young contender Kyle Hendricks, saw their lead dissipate late thanks to an over-taxed Aroldis Chapman. The Indians forced extra innings but the Cubs were able to regain the lead in the top of the tenth behind Ben Zobrist. After a gut-wrenching bottom of the tenth, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series by one run.
This victory by the Cubs fulfilled the lofty expectations that many had of the team for this season. It cemented Chicago’s status as a baseball powerhouse and set the team up for the future. Additionally, it solidifies the status of President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein as one of the greatest executives in the game. Epstein, who was response for building the team that broke the Red Sox curse in 2004, now adds the Cubs’ success to his case for the Hall of Fame. Despite losing, the Indians will be returning virtually all of the key components of their championship squad, namely their stellar bullpen led by Andrew Miller. With both teams poised to make deep postseason runs again, do not be surprised if next year’s World Series features a rematch of these two talented clubs.