[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the event that you have been living under a rock for the last week, the following words may sound improbable, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions. After 108 years of losing and curses, the 2016 Cubs have finally accomplished what many fans have waited their whole lives to see. This World Series win was so monumental for the city of Chicago that an estimated 5 million people gathered to watch the victory parade held on Friday November 4. In all of human history this is considered the seventh largest gathering of people, which goes to show you how impactful this championship really was.
However, getting to the celebratory events was not easy. Cleveland had a 3-1 series lead on the Cubs, with home field advantage in their favor. Cleveland had two of the three remaining games at home to put away the Cubs, but the Cubs were resilient. Even the Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, tried his best to lose this series with questionable pitching changes in games 6 and 7. In Game 6 with the cubs leading 7-2 in the 7th inning, Maddon decided to bring closer Aroldis Chapman into the game for a potential seven out save after he had already pitched 2.2 innings in game 5 and throwing over 40 pitches. All of this fatigue that Maddon put on Chapman reared it’s ugly head in game 7 when Maddon once again went to Chapman in the 8th inning to try for a 4 out save. Well thanks to the overuse in the previous 2 games, Chapman was running on fumes, and for a pitcher who normally throws 103 mph consistently, Chapman was having trouble touching just 98 mph, which lead to Rajai Davis hitting a game tying home run in the bottom of the 8th and giving the Indians all the momentum in the world.
Now, this wasn’t even the only questionable pitching change that Maddon made, in the 5th inning starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was in a groove and was pitching exceptionally. (Quick fact about Hendricks, he lead the MLB this season in ERA and is in the running to win a Cy Young award.) With 2 outs in the inning Hendricks gave up a controversial walk in which ball 3 looked to be a strike right down that middle that would have ended the inning but home plate umpire, Sam Holbrook, was not watching the same game as everyone else in the country. This walk lead to Jon Lester being summoned from the bullpen, something Lester has not done in 9 years. What makes Maddon look even worse is that earlier in the day he told reporters that he would not bring Lester into the game if there are any runners on base, due to Lester’s inept ability to throw the ball to first base. For those who are unfamiliar with Jon Lester’s fear of throwing to first base, the following link will show you precisely why, https://youtu.be/cblrlzIxxfY, in the baseball community this is known as having “the yips”. Lester has an irrational fear of throwing the ball to first base, whether it be on a pick off throw or a bunt. Since this is common knowledge in the baseball world, the Indians exploited this and made life in the fifth inning difficult for the Cubs, getting 2 runs back. After that bumpy fifth inning, Lester was as solid as he’s ever been.
It’s safe to say that Maddon out-managed himself in the latter portion of this series, but was fortunate enough that fate was on the side of the Cubs and now after 108 years, no matter what people say about his coaching moves, he can just ask the naysayers, “who won the World Series for the first time in over 100 years”.