By James Marrow
What happened the last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series?
The stock market was recovering from the Panic of 1907, when the New York Stock Exchange fell nearly 50% in three weeks. The Wright Brothers unveiled their airplane to the public with a newly included passenger seat. Henry Ford’s Model T sold for $850, which was the affordable automobile. Jack Johnson won his first heavyweight boxing title, becoming the first African-American world champion. The Panama Canal was being constructed, one of the largest engineering projects in history. The nation saw it’s first Mother’s Day. The oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by Black college women, Alpha Kappa Alpha, was founded at Howard University.
Before Wednesday night, the Cubs had not won a World Series in 108 years.
The Cubs fended off a late rally to beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, in a ten-inning Game 7. This win ended the most infamous and one of the longest droughts in American pro sports. Two extra inning hits from seasoned veterans Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero lifted the Cubs with a lead that they would hang on to after Chicago’s depleted closer pitcher, Ardolis Chapman, surrendered a 6-3 lead they had taken into the bottom of the eighth.
The Indians’ own drought of 68 years will continue to carry on. Cleveland had to overcome the 24th-highest payroll in baseball and multiple injuries.
The Cubs faced a team that nevertheless dominated American League playoffs with a 7-1 record. The heart break they suffered with three consecutive losses to watch their 3-1 series lead collapse after a resounding regular season and playoff performance is a new chapter in a book of misfortune. In the 1997 World Series, the Indians lost a ninth-inning lead to the Florida (now Miami) Marlins to lose the championship.
Wednesday night was the finale to a high-speed historic season for the Cubs to the World Series. After being swept in the 2015 National League championship series by the New York Mets, Chicago began this year 27-8, baseball’s best start since the 1984 Detroit Tigers went 30-5. Like the Cubs, Detroit won the World Series that year. The Cubs captured the crown of the best record in baseball at an outstanding 103 regular season wins.
Regular season wins have cursed the translation to postseason success. Just four teams with the MLB’s best record in the past 25 years went on to win the World Series. There is a similar trend in other sports. There is a feared “President’s Cup Curse” for teams that win the best NHL record award.
The Cubs almost didn’t become the fifth.
Cleveland took a commanding 3-1 series lead. Cleveland pitching held the Cubs to a measly two runs in their three wins and outscored the Cubs 14-2.
Cubs fans can now rest easy without thinking about the teams collapses in 1969, 1984 and 2003. Cubs fans can now rest easy without thinking about that black cat that ran across the Cubs’ dugout, the bar owner’s hex on the team because of it’s ejected billy goat, and Steve Bartman, the fan who infamously caught foul ball that left fielder Moises Alou claimed was a catchable ball in the playoffs.
The Cubs’ 2016 World Series win means fans can also finally celebrate.
Game 7 also made history by smacking a long-ball in television ratings.
The Hollywood Reporter stated “This makes it the most-watched baseball game in 25 years, blowing past the handful of turn-of-the-century games that hit 39 million. The last baseball game to top the 40-million mark was in 1991. Game 6 of that World Series earned 40.8 million viewers.”
The ratings ended at 25.2. Earlier in the year for the NBA, a different Cleveland team was on the winning end of a 3-1 series collapse. The ratings for the Cavaliers and Warriors game 7 ended at 18.9.
No other program was watched more outside of the 2016 presidential debates since the Super Bowl, according to a USA Today report. 70 percent of the televisions in use in Chicago were tuned to game 7 compared to 49 percent in Cleveland.
Making history, breaking curses, and ending championship droughts seem to be the recipes for high sports television rankings.