Cubs must be ready to do whatever it takes to end cursed drought
CLEVELAND — If you’re the Cubs, this is what you do for Game 7 of the World Series:
Whatever it takes.
It’s that simple.
Anything — within the rules — that it takes to win.
It’s a one-game season, a one-game postseason, a one-game history starting right now.
The number one sticks in the brain.
One of a kind. One moment. One crown. One game to redeem a franchise’s legacy, to water and feed a parched and starving multitude of fans.
When you only get this opportunity every century or so, you don’t mess around.
Basically what it means is every player on the Cubs’ roster can be played anywhere, at any time, in any position manager Joe Maddon deems necessary to win.
He can pinch-hit with Game 6 winner Jake Arrieta, pinch-run with reliever Carl Edwards Jr., bring in starter Jon Lester as a reliever in the third inning, start closer Aroldis Chapman and use him until his left arm falls off, make bad-kneed Kyle Schwarber steal bases, even put pitching coach Chris Bosio in to catch.
Well, that last one’s off the board because Bosio is ineligible and probably would need a crane to get him out of his crouch.
When the Cubs come back from a 3-1 deficit and bring this all to a head with one deciding contest Wednesday, there is no reason not to have every hand on deck, as they say. And in every hand there should be an oar. And every oar should have a protruding spike — for mortal combat.
A big-selling T-shirt around here reads ‘‘CLEVELAND AGAINST THE WORLD.’’
It must feel that way because Cubs Nation and the Cubs’ needs are all you ever hear about. ‘‘CUBS ARE THE WORLD’’ might be a logical alternative T-shirt.
Indeed, there were so many Cubs fans Tuesday at Progressive Field that ‘‘Let’s go, Cubbies!’’ often rang out like a home cheer.
After the last-out pop-up by the Indians’ Jason Kipnis, Cubs fans roared in ecstasy — and it was loud. Not a great thing to hear in Cleveland.
Don’t forget, many people detest the Cubs and their fan base. Annoying, petty, drunken and smarmily desperate are descriptions you hear.
‘‘I don’t have any sympathy for Chicago Cubs fans because they don’t even give a [expletive],’’ comedian Bill Burr said in one of his rages. ‘‘They’ve only given a [bleep] for, like, the last 10 years. But other than that, it’s just been, ‘Take your shirt off, and let’s have a keg party.’ ’’
It was warm enough Tuesday — 71 degrees (thank you, global warming) — to take your shirt off. But I didn’t see any bare tops at Progressive Field.
What I did see were the Cubs’ bats ripping into Indians starter Josh Tomlin, a middling pitcher whose luck ran out.
Special kudos to shortstop Addison Russell for his grand slam and six RBI, but the meat of the order — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, then Russell — combined for 11 hits, three home runs and nine RBI.
But Tomlin isn’t Game 7 starter Corey Kluber, who is the ace of the Indians’ staff and already has won Games 1 and 4, allowing one run in 12 innings while doing so.
‘‘It should be a really good game,’’ Bryant said cheerily. ‘‘And I can’t wait for it.’’
Every player — and Maddon, too — said Game 7 has to be played like every other. It’s baseball. The Indians agreed. The Cubs will send right-hander Kyle Hendricks against Kluber.
Go get ’em.
‘‘You’ve got two really, really good pitchers, and it will be exciting,’’ Indians manager Terry Francona said. ‘‘It’s an honor to even be part of it.’’
One last wang-dang-doodle, the Cubs’ 179th game of the season.
Strap yourself in, people.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.