... at least for now! For several moments during last night's game between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, I kept waiting for the Billy Goat curse to show itself. In the 8th or 9th inning, I believe, a foul ball that seemed to be playable for a brief moment made its way to the infamous Steve Bartman location and one couldn't help to think if history was going to repeat itself.
No curse last night, just destiny being fulfilled for the North Siders. The Cubs had to face Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in baseball and a pitcher who was pitching well so far this postseason. In fact Kershaw pitched lights out against the Cubs in Game 2 at Wrigley Field which made last night's 5-0 victory over the Dodgers even more impressive. Just the way the Cubs scored runs so easily and kept the Dodgers from scoring position all night, you knew that the Cubs were playing with so much confidence. They truly have a championship swagger, something Cubs fans haven't experienced with this team for 108 years. What a great night for one of my favorite US cities and for probably the most loyal fans in any sport.
Being a die hard San Francisco Giants fan, the memory of winning crucial postseason games and the elation that follows is still fresh in my mind. Even though we thought this was our year (we were BeliEVEN!), 2016 belongs to the Cubs and I got goosebumps seeing them and whole town of Chicago celebrate last night. I stayed silent on social media after the Giants lost in such a painful way to the Cubs earlier this month but I can't be mad. The bullpen was a huge liability for the Giants and it was going to implode at some time in the postseason. Better it imploded against the Cubs than against the Dodgers or in the World Series. It is really hard to hate on the Cubs and I am sure everyone in the country will be rooting for Chicago in the World Series unless you live or are from Cleveland.
The upcoming World Series is quite thick with story lines. The obvious are the championship droughts for each team. The Chicago Cubs last won a World Series when Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States and last made a trip to the World Series shortly after World War II ended. The Cleveland Indians are also a cursed team but not as well documented as the Cubs curse. The Indians last won a World Series in 1948 and since then have made just three trips to the Fall Classic: 1954, 1995, and 1997. In 1954, the Indians set the American League record for most regular season victories (later broken by the 1998 New York Yankees and then broken again by the 2001 Seattle Mariners) only to get swept by my beloved Giants (when they were the New York Giants). Funny how the Giants were a cursed team after 1954 since the next championship for them was in 2010. Also funny how the record for most regular season victories in Major League Baseball is still held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs.
For the next 40 years after 1954, the Indians could never catch break and a movie was even made in 1989 about how sad of a team they were: "Major League" and still one of my favorite sports comedy films! Ironically, the Indians became a championship contender a few years after the movie was released and came very close to winning the World Series in 1997 only to lose in extra innings in Game 7 to the Florida Marlins (didn't the Indians owner in the movie Major League wanted to move to the Indians to Florida!). What's even crazier about that game is how two players on that Marlins team have been involved with perpetuating or ending baseball curses. Moises Alou scored the game tying run in that game and of course was involved with the Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 NLCS. Edgar Renteria knocked in the championship winning run in that game and also hit a 3 run homerun for the Giants in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series to seal the deal on a 56 year championship drought. Can't help but notice how baseball can behave in strange yet familiar ways.
Now here we are with two teams trying to end decades of futility. You couldn't ask for a better World Series matchup if you are true baseball fan. There are also political overtones with this matchup: Donald Trump slamming the Cubs, Barack Obama hailing from Illinois, Cleveland hosting the Republican National Convention just 3 months ago, and the Indians name and logo controversy. Again, this World Series is thick with story lines! The Indians may own home field advantage but I don't think we can mess with the Cubs mojo right now. I predict the Cubs will win the World Series in five games and how fitting would it be that they end the 108 year curse at Wrigley Field, an awesome venue that is 102 years old but obviously has never experienced a Cubs World Series Championship. As the late and great Harry Caray would say, CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!