History takes a hike as the Cubs head to the World Series
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Like the wind on so many days at Wrigley Field, history was blowing out Saturday night.
Seventy-one years of it flew out of the old yard, just breezed right on by, as if it had finally realized it had overstayed its welcome. Dude, way to take a hint. The big, bad stuff went quickly – 1969, 1984, 1989, 2003, 2008 – the rest of it followed and all that was left was the Cubs’ first pennant since 1945. Well, that and a party of prodigious proportions inside and outside Wrigley.
The Cubs are going to the World Series. Oh, so this is how it feels.
They will face the Indians with the hope of winning their first title since 1908. OK, OK, maybe there is more history in need of another gale-force ride out of Wrigley.
The Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, which explains the scene that took place after shortstop Addison Russell fielded Yasiel Puig’s grounder and threw to Javy Baez, who stepped on second to force out Carlos Ruiz, then threw to Anthony Rizzo for the double play. (Score that 6-4-3 equals 71.)
The party commenced. Rizzo raised his arms, players romped like kids at the pitcher’s mound, and gloves and caps went flying. If there had been a giant statue for fans to topple with ropes and mallets, they would have. That’s how heavy this history has been, how it had weighed on the franchise and those parts of the city that bled blue profusely over the years.
It’s amazing what a crowd of 42,386 pent-up, repressed, deprived souls can do. For one thing, it can make the Wrigley press box shake over and over again. This is what happens when you let Cubs fans go wild. Could be a gateway drug. That’s all I’m saying.
Holding the championship trophy, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts thanked “the greatest fans in the world,’’ and, trust me, no one inside Wrigley was disagreeing. Nor did they have any objections when he said, “All I know is we have to win four more games.’’
Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, wouldn’t touch the trophy, surely because he has a better one in mind. He should. His team is a monster.
And then came manager Joe Maddon, the chemist, the conjurer, the … couch potato?
“I just wanted to watch football tomorrow,’’ he told the cheering crowd.
The craziest part of the whole, crazy night was how easy it was. You kept waiting for the Dodgers to make a game of it, but almost from the moment Dexter Fowler opened the Cubs’ half of the first with a double off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, there was little in the way of resistance. There was too much Kyle Hendricks, too much Rizzo and – am I writing this? — too much Willson Contreras.
Kris Bryant knocked in Fowler with a single, and then Dodgers leftfielder Andrew Toles inexplicably forgot to look a Rizzo line drive into his glove. Dropping the ball is the kind of mistake historically associated with the Cubs. Now, it was somebody else’s turn to do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Such a strange, foreign sensation. Two-nothing Cubs after an inning.
The park rocked after Toles’ error, and it would rock again as the Wrigley faithful celebrated rookie Contreras’ fourth-inning home run. Same with Rizzo’s homer in the fifth.
The best way to stave off even the slightest chance of a spirit-crushing comeback is to not allow it a foothold. After giving up a hit on his first pitch of the night, Hendricks retired 17 straight Dodgers. That’s the stuff of legend.
The fans stayed late, singing that bad “Go, Cubs, Go’’ song, but, hey, it was their night and they could do with it what they like.
“These fans certainly deserve it way more than us,’’ Bryant said. “They have waited a long time. We aren’t done.’’
This might take some getting used to.