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OTD: Five Years Ago, Cubs Break 108-Year Drought to Win World Series

Five years ago today, the Chicago Cubs snapped a 108-year drought and won the 2016 World Series in an epic Game Seven.

Cubs World Series Final Out
Photo: Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

Ah yes, what a day November 2, 2016 was. It was the ultimate moment for Chicago Cubs fans watching their favorite team snap a 108-year streak without a World Series title.

As a Cubs fan myself, November 2, 2016 is a day that will forever live in my memory. There were so many defining moments from that game. Now that we mention it, why don’t we revisit some of those moments?

You Go, We Go

How can one not start discussing Game Seven of the 2016 World Series without mentioning the first at-bat of the game? Before some fans were even able to get in front of the television set, myself included, or in their seats, Dexter Fowler launched a ball into the Cleveland night to give the Cubs the early 1-0 lead. In fact, it was the first ever lead-off home run in World Series history at the time.

Fowler’s presence atop the lineup is something the Cubs have been searching for ever since he left for St. Louis. Nonetheless, Game Seven started with fireworks and a little bit of magic. The slogan all season was “you go, we go” in reference to Fowler. On that special November night in Cleveland, the Cubs won and it literally started with Dexter Fowler.

Bryant’s Baserunning

The Cubs’ second and fifth runs of the night can largely be attributed to the elite baserunning of one Kristopher Lee Bryant. Yes, KB is more than just a power hitter. Cubs fans appreciated Bryant’s baserunning for years, but on November 2, 2016, it was on full display for the entire country to see.

On Addison Russell’s sacrifice fly, Bryant tagged up on a ball that was very shallow in the outfield. However, Bryant trusted his gut and made an excellent read, as well as slide, to beat the impending tag from Indians’ catcher Roberto Pérez.

Later, on Anthony Rizzo’s single, Bryant scored all the way from first base, showing incredible hustle and flawless technique rounding the bases. It’s fair to wonder if the Cubs score those two runs with someone else on base. We’ll never know, but Cubs fans will never need to know either.

Javy Báez Goes Yard

In the same inning as Kris Bryant’s second run scored, Javier Báez went deep off Andrew Miller to right center field. In 2016, Báez was just starting to blossom into the NL MVP runner up that he was in 2018. However, his home run in Game Seven certainly sent shockwaves through the fanbase.

Javy is a special player, all Cubs fans will likely say the same thing. That said, this was just the start and a timely home run from the future Silver Slugger winner.

Pitching Change and Anxiety

If there was one moment that gave Cubs fans heartburn, it was Jon Lester entering out of the bullpen in the fifth inning. After 4.2 really good innings from Kyle Hendricks, The Professor was lifted for the veteran left-hander. In hindsight, arguments have been made noting that Hendricks was likely pulled too early. Nevertheless, Lester entered and provided… anxiety for Cubs fans.

As Jon Lester entered the game, so did catcher David Ross in place of Willson Contreras. Manager Joe Maddon mentioned wanting to bring Lester in to start a clean inning, but opted to go against his own word as Lester and Ross entered with two outs in the fifth. Both players were clearly rusty, as Lester’s pitch in the dirt hit Ross in the mask and panic flowed through everyone watching at home and in Cleveland.

However, despite Ross’ folly, he quickly made up for it in the next inning.

Ross Goes Deep

David Ross became a fan favorite in his time with the Cubs. Dubbed “Granda Rossy”, the 15-year veteran announced that 2016 would be his final season as a player ahead of the incredible run. Ross entered in Game Seven of the World Series and in what became his last career at-bat, he delivered.

Ross’ home run was the perfect way to cap his career. The magic surrounding that moment is certainly something that will live on in legend of the infamous Game Seven.

Here We Go Again

The Cubs cruised into the eighth inning with a three-run lead. However, Aroldis Chapman got the Cubs out of the seventh inning, the left-handed hurler returned for the eighth. There is a good possibility that Chapman was gassed entering the game after how much Maddon used him in the postseason, and in the eighth inning it showed.

It was every Cubs fan’s worst nightmare. After Brandon Guyer’s double made it 6-4, Rajai Davis’ two-run home run off the camera in left field sent Cleveland Indians fans into a frenzy, and Cubs fans searching for hope. Just when the Cubs needed to rally, as the game went to extras, Mother Nature had other plans.

17 Minutes of Rain

What if I told you 17 minutes of rain would wash away 108 years of drought? The saying needs to be in an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary someday. Mother Nature decided to rain just hard enough to pause the game for 17 minutes. 17 minutes of anguish for Cubs fans. 17 minutes of anticipation for Indians fans. In the end, 17 minutes was enough time for Jason Heyward to rally the troops in what may be the greatest speech given in baseball history.

After the 17 minutes passed, the Cubs returned to the dugout. In the top of the 10th, Kyle Schwarber was due up for Chicago.

A 10th Inning for the Ages

Kyle Schwarber became a legend in the 2016 World Series. After missing the entire season due to a knee injury sustained early in the season in Arizona, Schwarber returned to the team in order to DH for the Cubs while in Cleveland for Games One, Two, Six, and Seven.

The Indiana product led the inning off with a single and a fist pump as he trotted to first base. The dugout certainly loved every second.

The outfielder was lifted for a pinch-runner. Albert Almora Jr. entered the game and on a deep drive by Kris Bryant, Almora advanced to second base on a perfect tag up.

After an Anthony Rizzo intentional walk, Ben Zobrist was due up. After falling behind in the count, Zobrist got the bat on a ball low and away and poked it down the left field line. The Cubs had the lead.

Another intentional walk, this time to Addison Russell, brought Miguel Montero to the plate with the bases loaded. The veteran catcher added another base hit, scoring Rizzo and giving the Cubs a two-run lead. People forget, Montero’s single was the game-winner.

Cleveland Refuses to Go Away

Of all names, Carl Edwards Jr. took the ball in the bottom of the 10th inning, looking to get the final three outs. After two quick outs, Brendan Guyer and Rajai Davis struck again, this time via a walk and a deep single.

That said, the Cubs made a change. With the speedy right-handed hitting Michael Martinez up, Mike Montgomery was brought into the game for the save. Montgomery worked a 0-1 count, and then… it happened.

“It’s Going to be a Tough Play, Bryant…”

Time stood still. Everyone watching was on their feet. A little dribbler found its way to Kris Bryant… now, just enjoy the rest and relive every emotion you felt five years ago:

Champions Forever

After 108 years, billy goats, black cats, Bartman, and so much more, the Cubs were finally World Series champions. The 2016 Chicago Cubs will be a team that those who were young will tell their kids about some day. Hell, even their grandkids will learn about the team that ended the longest championship drought in sports history to date.

It was a special day. The Cubs came back from a 3-1 Indians series lead to become champions. On this special date in history for Cubs fans, enjoy what is likely one of the happiest, if not the happiest, sports moments in your entire lifetime.

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Work as an accountant by day. Huge Chicago sports fan. Played college football and only wish I could skate well enough to play hockey. Twitter: @rnldluce Instagram: @rnldluce

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