The players wanted it. The franchise wanted it. The fans hoped and prayed for something that hadn’t happened for seven decades.
Did you hear? The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.
As dramatic as the result was, how it unfolded was… well, undramatic. Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist drove in runs early. Willson Contreras homered in the fourth, Anthony Rizzo in the fifth. Starter Kyle Hendricks was spectacular into the eighth inning. Aroldis Chapman lit up the scoreboard with triple-digit velocity to finish it off. The Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-0 to win the National League Championship Series in six games.
To say this was a historic season for the Cubs would be an understatement. And they intend to go much further.
Seventy-one years since their last pennant, 108 years since their last World Series crown, the Cubs won 103 games during the regular season, then shrugged off the elite pitching of the Giants and Dodgers to emerge from the National League playoffs.
Six times the Cubs had played a game to clinch an NLCS - three in 1984, three in 2003. They held leads in five of those games, but the pennant drought persisted. The organization became better known for its venerable ballpark and its lively atmosphere than actual baseball, and they earned the moniker Lovable Losers. Loveable they are, but losers they aren't. Not now.
Much was written about the intimidating task of beating LA’s Clayton Kershaw, arguably the game’s best pitcher, who has a composite ERA over the past four seasons of 1.88 and who shut out the Cubs over seven innings in Game 2. The Cubs showed from the outset that Game 6 would be very different.
It started when Chicago favorite Javier Baez got the crowd buzzing at the top of the first with an acrobatic tag on Andrew Toles and throw to first for a double play. In the bottom of the inning, Fowler greeted Kershaw with a ground-rule double along the brick wall in right. Bryant singled him in, then went to third when Joc Pederson dropped a Rizzo drive in center. Zobrist, who turned the tide of the series with a bunt single in Game 4, drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
That was enough for Hendricks, a leading contender for the NL Cy Young Award. After a season in which he went 9-2 at Wrigley with an MLB-best 1.32 home ERA, Hendricks benefited from the early twin killing, picked a runner off base in the second and kept the Dodgers off balance for the rest of his outing.
He gave way to fireballing lefty Chapman, who shut down the Dodgers in the eighth and ninth innings, resulting in double plays in each inning.
With Chapman’s last move, the Cubs were National League champions. And they made it look so easy.
This version of the Cubs might be the best in the franchise’s 141-year history. The ghosts of 1969, 1977, 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2015 can rest.
Now the Cleveland Indians and four more wins are all that stands between the Cubs and their craving for that ultimate high.
The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.Follow @yvonnehew1