Team of Destiny vs Best Team in Baseball: A Review on the 2016 World Series

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Over 2,430 games played, over 200 days, hundreds upon thousands of home runs, stolen bases, and walk-offs have all boiled down to one series, one series that would crown the winner as the best baseball team in the world.

The entire postseason was a bundle of surprises, from the Chicago Cubs’ 4 run ninth inning to clinch the NLDS to the emergence of the Cleveland Indians’ star relievers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and the MLB 2016 postseason has surpassed many expectations. Yet, despite all the excitement and surprises that came with this series, the favorites managed to make their way into the World Series.

The Chicago Cubs had extremely high expectations from the start of the World Series. They were not only fresh off of a deep playoff run the season before, but also seen as one of the youngest teams in the big leagues. Despite all this, they were still favored to do something no other Cubs team had done in over 100 years: win the World Series.

Even with all these high expectations, the young Cubs battled their way through a long, hard regular season, and ended up entering the postseason as the best team in baseball. On the other hand, the entirety of Cleveland was not getting hyped up as much for the start of their beloved Indians season, but rather watching history unfold as the city’s basketball team, the Cavaliers, won the first major sports title for Cleveland in over 50 years. The Indians, however, defied expectations and carried the city’s championship momentum throughout the regular season, entering the playoffs thanks to a 13 game winning streak during June.

As the playoffs came around, the highly favored Cubs faced lots of adversity, having to face both Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw along their way to their first World Series berth since 1945. On the other hand, The Cleveland Indians only lost 1 game on the road to the World Series, sweeping an offensive juggernaut in the Boston Red Sox’s as well as displaying their masterful relief pitching during their 4-1 series win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The World Series was set and the history tied to it was something that none had seen before. The two longest championship droughts in baseball up to this point were held by both the championship contenders. The Indians last World Series victory came back in 1948, yet they came agonizingly close in 1997 when they blew a 9th inning lead where the infamous “hit” won the title for the Florida Marlins against the Cleveland Indians. So, as many imagined, the World Series was expected to be an instant classic by the time it ended, and it sure was.

Headlines swarmed the media even before the first pitch was thrown about Cubs’ slugger Kyle Schwarber returning to the squad after recovering from an ACL tear, which sidelined him for the entire season. The teams and their loyal fans cheered on as game 1 got under way. The main headline in this game was the brilliance of Corey Kluber, as he shut the Cubs high powered offense down, before handing the ball off to Andrew Miller who finished off the best team in baseball to take a one game lead over the favored Cubs.

The following day, however, the Cubs’ bats came to life, as Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber all drove in runs as the Cubs’ pitcher, Jake Arrieta, threw a no-hitter through 5 innings as the Cubs saw out the victory to tie up the series before heading back to Wrigley. The Cubs had a chance to end the dreaded 108 year championship drought if they won the next 3 games at home, however that was not the case.

Both pitchers, Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Josh Tomlin of the Indians, dueled it out in game 3, before the Cubs reliever, Carl Edwards Junior let up the only run of the ballgame, ending the game 1-0 to the Indians, as well as a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 was the worst game for the Cubs, although they took the lead early off of an Anthony Rizzo RBI, John Lackey surrendered two runs in the 2nd inning  and one more in the 3rd, as the Indians kept on hitting and hitting and hitting, ending the game at 7-2 and earning a demanding 3-1 series lead.

The Cubs needed hope, and they needed something to go their way as their backs were against the wall with a chance for the Indians to finish them off and ruin their dream season. Yet, they finally got something going. Although they were down by one run early, Kris Bryant knocked one into the stands to tie the game at one, right before Anthony Rizzo smashed a double deep into right field to give the Cubs some momentum. A struggling Javier Baez laid down the perfect bunt to not only advance Rizzo to third base, but also build his confidence as he struggled to hit. Next, Addison Russell singled to break the tie. Finally, the flurry ended as 39 year old David Ross hit a sacrifice fly to further the Cubs lead. Lester handed the ball, and the Cubs’ closer, Aroldis Chapman, pitched over 40 pitches to get a clutch 8 out save and keep the series alive.

Game 6 came rolling into the city of Cleveland with even more tension and stress. Would Cleveland clinch it at home, or would the Cubs keep their season alive? Questions were thrown out the window early, when Kris Bryant cranked another homer to take the early lead. Three batters later, Addison Russell doubled, driving two more runs in to finish the first with a three run cushion. Jake Arrieta, the Cubs pitcher, held the Indians to no hits through 3 innings, where he was helped out again by Addison Russell, who launched a grand slam into the bleachers to get the Cubs up by 7 after just 4 innings. The Cubs, lead by Jake Arrieta, Montgomery, Chapman, and the rest of the Cubs’ relievers saw out the game to knot the series up at 3 a piece.

Game 7 was upon both teams now, as both managers decided what players to put where, and in what order to try and win the World Series. Again, the game started fast for the Cubs as Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff home run to take an early lead against the tribe. However, the Indians tied the game up on a single from Carlos Santana. The Cubs answered in the very next inning, with Addison Russell hitting a sac fly to drive Kris Bryant in, and later in the inning, rookie Wilson Contreras doubled to allow Ben Zobrist to cross home plate, allowing the Cubs to reclaim their lead as the fourth inning ended.

A crazy 5th inning saw Javier Baez hit a homer, followed by Anthony Rizzo hitting a single, which allowed Kris Bryant to score and further extend the Cubs lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Indians answered back. A wild pitch by reliever John Lester saw two Indians cross home plate to cut the lead in half. In the six inning, the 39 year old David Ross smacked a home run off of a seemingly unhittable Andrew Miller, giving the Cubs a three run cushion heading into the 8th inning.

The Cubs only needed 6 outs to deliver its first World Series in over 100 years, but closer Aroldis Chapman allowed an RBI double, followed by a two run home run to tie up the game at 6, sinking the hearts of the Cub faithful while also causing an explosion of happiness and despite in Progressive Field. The 9 innings ended with the score all tied up, when the Ohio sky opened up, causing the game to go into a rain delay. After the game, many of the Cubs called this rain delay the most important rain delay in baseball history. This delay allowed the Cubs to calm their emotions and reduce much of the commotion the players were feeling. This rain delay rejuvenated the Cubs and they came out swinging in the 10th inning.

Schwarber lead off with a single, and two batters later, Ben Zobrist smacked an RBI double to break the tie. After an intentional walk, Miguel Montero came in clutch and hit another RBI single to give the Cubs a two run advantage with three outs until their first World Series in 108 years. Carl Edwards Jr. came to the mound and got his first two outs, and then he surrendered a walk before Davis hit an RBI single to cut the lead to one. Carl Edwards Jr. was then replaced by Mike Montgomery, and after two pitches, the final out of the World Series was made after a groundout to 3rd base, giving the Chicago Cubs their first World Series in over 100 years.