HAWL IN: When all your wildest dreams come true
CLEVELAND – Mr. Sandman could only hope to have the magic touch as the men in blue did 346 miles east of Chicago.
Only the Cubs could weave a tapestry of insanity that was their Wednesday night at Progressive Field and yet find a way to make it all good in the end.
What started as the perfect dream early on Wednesday night was twisted it into a familiar nightmare before the Cubs concocted a fantasy finish.
Michael Martinez just caught a Mike Montgomery pitch with his bat and bounced it towards third. A charging Kris Bryant fielded the low hop and in one swift motion move the ball out of the glove to his right hand. He flung it quickly to Anthony Rizzo who put his glove high above his head to snag the throw and get Martinez by two steps.
It was 11:47 P.M., November 2nd, 2016 in Chicago. At that moment, all of Cubs fans wildest dreams came true.
World Series Champions. You’ve probably thought about it, wrote about it for a class paper, seen it play out in storylines on the big and small screen. Who didn’t watch “Taking Care of Business” when the Cubs beat the Angels for the World Series wishing it was real. Who didn’t sit back while watching “Rookie of the Year” thinking what if Henry Rowengartner was throwing heat on the mound for the North Siders.
C’mon, when you saw this commercial for “MLB ’12 The Show” did you not send it to a couple of people? I sent it to my friend in Las Vegas and my mother. The 1:01 advertisement encompassed what fans might do should the team ever win it all.
Fantasy seemed the place where the Cubs crowning glory would seem a reality – that is until Wednesday, November 2nd at 11:47 P.M. Chicago time.
With the final out baseball securely tucked in his back pocket, Rizzo stretched his hands in the air in a bit of shock himself over what transpired. The infielders reached Montgomery first along with catcher Miguel Montero who was joined seconds later by the rest of his jubilant teammates between second base and the pitcher’s mound.
With a very partisan Cubs crowd-which raided the secondary market to create a “Wrigley Field North”-joining the delirium in the seats around them, the Cubs received their championship T-Shirts and hats. Hugs went from player-to-player, player-to-coach, coach-to-manager, with a few front office people in the mix as well.
Can’t believe what you’re seeing? If you’ve been a Cubs fan it was surreal yet if you followed the last five years closely it’s more of a culmination.
For once the Cubs had an owner (Tom Ricketts) who was patient to build a great team rather than sign one. The team had a president (Theo Esptein) with a pedigree of building a championship amidst the backdrop of a superstitious past (Red Sox of 2004 & 2007) working with a shrewd general manager (Jed Hoyer) to build a team through the minor than through the dollars.
When the squad was talented enough to supplement with trades and a few big free agents, it all came together.
Dexter Fowler, acquired through a trade, homered to start the game off the unhittable Corey Kluber. Javier Baez, a holdover from the Jim Hendry regime who was developed by the new leadership, hit one out to knock the pitcher out of the game. Jon Lester, one of the big free agent signings in year four of the rebuilding effort, held the Cubs lead through the middle innings even after a rocky start.
Even after blowing a three-run lead in the eighth, a scenario that churned up some of those old feelings of ghostly dread, the Cubs weren’t deterred. Kyle Schwarber, the first round pick of the 2014 draft, singled to start the tenth inning. Epstein’s first top draft pick, Albert Almora Jr., wisely took second on a long fly out by Bryant. Zobrist, a free agent pick-up in year five, drove in the go-ahead run to give the Cubs the lead back.
Bryant, the 2014 first-round draft pick, then threw to Rizzo, the first young player acquired by the new regime in 2012 to put 108 years of frustration to an end.
“We’ve heard about 108-years for years,” said pitcher Jake Arrieta, a Cy Young winner acquired through a trade in 2012. “The clock resets to ‘0’ now. We’re champions.”
Yes, it’s true. It’s not The Sandman bringing you this dream. He wouldn’t do it justice.
Only a team like this, built this way, and winning this way could make all your wildest dreams come true.