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After 108 years of curses and heartbreak, fans in the windy city were finally rewarded for their die-hard love of their local Cubs with a World Series Championship. The epic 7th game in a hard-fought series with the Cleveland Indians went to extra innings before fan favorite Anthony Rizzo caught the final out at 1st base in the bottom of the 10th and sent Cubs fans into an uproar around the globe.
No longer known as the Lovable Losers, the Chicago Cubs franchise joined the National League back in 1876 as the Chicago White Stockings. After eventually settling on the name Chicago Cubs officially in 1907, the club enjoyed success in back to back World Series titles in 1907 and 1908.
The Cubs wouldn’t see another World Series berth until 1945. Game four of the 1945 World Series featured the Cubs against the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field. As the legendary baseball story goes, local tavern owner William Sianis was ejected from the park due to the odor of his pet goat, which was bothering other fans. Sianis declared that the Cubs weren’t going to win anymore. His prophetic words held true for quite some time. The Cubs went on to lose the series and wouldn’t make another appearance in the World Series until 2016, on the 46th anniversary of Sianis’s death.
Despite the lack of success on the field after 1945, the Cubs hold a place in the hearts of their fans unlike most other teams in sports. Legendary ballplayers have suited up in Chicago Cubs uniforms over the years including Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Frank Chance, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Mordecai Brown, Cap Anson, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks.
Additionally, Wrigley Field has been the setting for some incredible baseball feats including Babe Ruth’s called shot, Hack Wilson’s RBI record of 191 in 1930, Rick Monday protecting the US flag from protestors, Kris Bryant’s game with three home runs and two doubles, Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game, not to mention the Steve Bartman incident.
Theo Epstein, the architect behind the 2004 Boston Red Sox World Series team that broke the 86 year curse, signed on in Chicago in 2011. He told Cubs fans to be patient; that he had a plan, but it would take a little time to get there. Chicago trusted the baseball guru through some tough seasons as the plan began to take shape. The Cubs aggressively went after Joe Maddon and were able to sign him to a five-year deal in 2014. John Lester was signed that offseason to bolster the pitching staff and other notable moves brought in Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber. Added to a lineup that included Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta, the teams was gaining momentum. An NLCS playoff berth gave Chicago great hopes for the future, despite being swept by the New York Mets.
The 2016 season was an absolute dream. The Cubbies were red hot from start to finish, posting a 103-58 record (their first time with over 100 wins since 1910), the best in the MLB. They ran away with the division, winning by 17 ½ games. Moving through powerhouse National League teams in San Francisco and Los Angeles throughout the playoffs, the Cubs made history by finally breaking through to the Fall Classic against the Cleveland Indians. A resilient club, the Cubs came back from being down three games to one to best the Indians in extra innings of Game 7.
The Cubs followed up their World Series win with another postseason trip in 2017. They were, however, bounced in the NLCS by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maddon’s group knows that they have the talent to get back to the Fall Classic and bring another title to Chi-town. Having kept most of the roster intact, Chicago is in great shape. Though pitcher Jake Arrieta left for Philadelphia, the Cubs were able to bring in Yu Darvish to shoulder the load. A dangerous team loaded with star power, Chicago is a perennial contender.
To learn more about the history of the Chicago Cubs as well as their magical 2016 season click here.