And so it was, that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series against the Cleveland Indians – but to leave it at that would be to tell only a fraction of what is a pretty remarkable tale.
So where to begin? Well how about with the end of the longest drought in baseball history.
108 years of hurt
You read correctly – when the Cubs finally clinched the World Series against Cleveland at Progressive Field, they did so by ending a drought of over a century, stretching back to 1908 when they beat the Detroit Tigers by four games to one.
To put that into context, it’s been 26 years since Liverpool last won a league title – less than a quarter of the Cubs’ 108-year wait.
In fact the last time the side even made it to the World Series was 1945, whereupon a strange curse was bestowed upon the side.
1907. 1908. 2016.
108 years later, the @Cubs are #WorldSeries #CHAMPS! https://t.co/6rzYrj93OC pic.twitter.com/Zb0T8bkJJB
— MLB (@MLB) November 3, 2016
Local bar owner Billy Sianis was attending the fourth game of the 1945 series at Wrigley Field with his goat, who reportedly did have a ticket.
Regardless, Sianis and his animal pal were asked to leave, prompting Billy to proclaim the Cubs would never again win the World Series, giving rise to the so-called “Curse Of The Billy Goat”. They went on to lose 4-3.
What a way to win it
The ending of a 108-year drought is a pretty dramatic storyline, huh? Well just wait until you hear HOW it was won.
The Cubs were 3-1 down in the best-of-seven series, but clawed it back to 3-3. Unsurprisingly for a decider, more tension lay ahead.
Having thrown away a three-run advantage, the Cubs were tied with Cleveland at the end of the ninth inning, whereupon a rain delay added some extra spice to proceedings, before Chicago edged to victory 8-7 after the 10th.
This was only the fourth time a World Series decider went to extra innings, with the previous occasion being the 1997 World Series between the Florida (now Miami) Marlins and the Cubs’ 2016 opponents, the Cleveland Indians.
It was also the first time a team has overturned a 3-1 deficit in the Fall Classic since 1985.
Taking on the mantle
As one club moves out of the shadows and into the light, so another team takes on the record of longest drought; in a startling continuation of an incredible story, that side is the Cubs’ vanquished opponents, Cleveland.
In 1948 Cleveland defeated the Boston Braves by four games to two, and haven’t matched the feat since. Their stretch of 68 years is now the longest active drought in baseball.
Indeed, Cleveland came close in 1997. Making the World Series against Florida, coming from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 down to force a decider, they threw away a two-run lead to lose agonisingly to the Marlins in the 11th inning.
The curse lifter
Drunk Bill Murray interviewing drunk Theo Epstein is one of the best interviews ever. https://t.co/STy90yPQSc
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) November 3, 2016
One figure of intrigue at the centre of all this is the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein – seen above being interviewed by celebrity Cubs fan Bill Murray – who has form when it comes to lifting curses.
Epstein became the youngest general manager in Major League Baseball history when the Boston Red Sox hired him in 2002 at the tender age of 28. The side hadn’t won the championship since 1918, and having traded away Babe Ruth in the 1919/20 off season, the curse was colloquially known as the Curse of the Bambino.
But two years after Epstein’s appointment, the Red Sox ended the drought with a sweep against the St Louis Cardinals. And 12 years later, here he is again.
The Cleveland Indians might be wise to enquire about his employment.