The Chicago Cubs ended a 108 year championship drought, defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in ten innings on an unusually warm and sometimes rainy night at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
This Game Seven will most certainly rank up there as one of the most exciting (not necessarily the best played) deciding games in Postseason history. For me personally, the 2005 White Sox championship will always rank first for obvious reasons, but out of the other 24 World Series I’ve been privileged to cover, the finale between the Cubs and Tribe ranks right up there with Joe Carter’s walk off Series winner.
This game had everything! Huge home runs, great defensive plays, clutch hitting, questionable managerial moves, key errors, and a rain delay that I, along with many, think had a huge impact on the final outcome of the game.
My photo position for Game Seven with located just outside of the Indians dugout, which put me in a great position to possible capture Cubs jubilation should they win. It’s hard to predict exactly who, what and where the best celebration picture will be, but the odds that I might at least get faces in my shot was a plus. Of course, if the Indians pulled it out, my pre-celebraiton strategy would need to change.
The Cubs got on the board right off the bat in the first inning with a long home run by Dexter Fowler, quieting, albeit temporarily, as the Indians tied up the game 1-1 in the third.
Kris Byant scored on fourth on an Addison Russell sacrifice fly to put the Cubs in the lead.
Joe Maddon brought in Cubs Cubs starter Jon Lester in the bottom of the fifth, and immediately the Indians capitalized, plating two runs on a wild pitch by Lester to close the score to 5-3.
But the Cubs came right back the next inning, as David Ross connected for a sixth inning home run off of the Indians seemingly invincible (and ALCS MVP) reliever Andrew Miller, seizing the short lived Tribe momentum and returning it back to the Cubs as they inched toward history.
Progressive Field sounded more like Wrigley Field east rather than the home of the Tribe.
But it wouldn’t be that easy…
With two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Aroldis Chapman on the hill, Rajai Davis hit a three-run, game tying home run to even up the deciding game of the 2016 WOrld Series at 6-6. The Indians fans were back.
Cub fans feared the worst. This was familiar territory and the Cubs faithful felt it. I looked over at longtime team photographer Steve Green and his look, that of just staring out onto the field, spoke volumes.
The momentum shifted. Progressive Field now roaring under the vocal forces of the Indians faithful. Would this soon become another chapter in the Cubs book of woes? To come back from a 3 games to 1 deficit, only to let the championship slip out of its grasp, would be sure to be remembered as the worst of the worst. Is this really happening?
But then a miracle happened. The rain came, lightly at first, then working into a fairly heavy rain, coming down just long and hard enough to halt play after the bottom of the ninth.
When the game resumed, the momentum the Indians developed when they tied the game looked like it was left in the clubhouse. Conversely, the Cubs seemed to have re-grouped and came out in the tenth inning swinging, literally, as Kyle Schwarber, (himself a story within a story) led off with a single. Three batters later, eventual World Series MVP Ben Zobrist hit an opposite field double into the left field corner to give the Cubs the lead for good.
The Indians did score one in the tenth to add to the drama, but when Michael Martinez grounded the ball to third and Bryant fired the ball over to Anthony Rizzo, history was sealed.
The Chicago Cubs were 2016 World Series Champions!
Typically, many of my World Series celebration shots center around the closing pitcher, but with Mike Montgomery in the game, attempting to record his first major league save, I had to revert to plan B. Nothing personal, Mike…
That would be… concentrate on Anthony Rizzo, who would be looking my way.
As Rizzo’s first baseman’s mitt closed around the ball thrown by Bryant to end the 108 years of Cubbieland frustration, I followed Rizzo toward the center of the field to join up with Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez and made my defining frame.
My late call worked, the strategy paid off…
The MLB Photos team of Brad Mangin, Rob Tringali and Alex Trautwig and I were all assigned specific post game responsibilities, mine being photograph the World Series trophy presentation, then move back onto the field to shoot the Series MVP (Ben Zobrist) with a brand new 50th anninversay Chevrolet Camaro. Rob, Alex and Brad headed onto the field and clubhouse to capture the champagne/beer celebration.
Once again, the MLB Photos crew, directed by Jessica Foster and edited by Jim McKenna, kicked ass!
What a World Series!
I find it hard to imagine my 25th World Series could be more any more exciting!