Rambling thoughts from a truly epic World Series game
by Scott Butler 11/3/16

Chicago Cubs World Series

I normally don’t do these kind of posts about other teams on this site - this is a Phillies blog after all - and I normally couldn't care less about any other teams. But last night's game was so unbelievably awesome, I just can't help myself.

I would have been happy with Cleveland or Chicago winning, because I know all too well what it is like to wait and wait and wait for your team to win it all. But I was rooting a little harder for the Cubs, mainly because I had a chance to watch the Phillies play the Cubs at Wrigley a few years ago and I will never forget it. Correction, I will forget the game itself because Cole Hamels got shelled and we were blown out. But that stadium…and that atmosphere...there really is nothing like it.

The location of Wrigley is so different from what we experience in South Philly. It is so entrenched in the neighborhood that you can almost drive past it without even knowing a ballpark is there. Parking is at such a premium, you can actually choose to pay less and get parked in. Crazy.

The moment you enter the park is as if you were transported back to 1908. The smells, the sounds, the brick, the ivy. You almost expect Ray Liotta to walk out of the cornfields or something. A casual baseball fan would probably hate it, but any baseball fan has to walk away in awe.

I’m sure it is a similar experience at Fenway, but there is a big difference. Red Sox fans were obnoxious from the beginning. Even though they had this horrible curse and hadn't won a championship in 86 years, they always seemed to look down at everyone. 

Cubs fans aren’t like that. It’s like Vince Vaughn said before Game 4 in Chicago (and I’m paraphrasing): Wrigley is a place any fan can go, because Cubs fans are really baseball fans.

That’s the experience I had, at least.  The Phillies were good and the Cubs were not at the time, but the fans in my section were just glad to follow their lovable losers and enjoy a nice summer day at the old park.  It must be a Midwestern thing, because you don’t have that type of fan base in the northeast.

My hope is that Cubs fans don’t become Red Sox fans who assume their s#$t doesn’t stink (even though the Yankees have 19 more championships than them) and become insufferable like the Yankees or Red Sox.

Now to the game.  I was rooting for the Cubs, but part of me hoped that Joe Maddon would get burned for his truly maddening decisions.

He decided to use Chapman to finish the seventh in Game 6 up by 5 runs and then send him back there for the 8th and again to start the 9th. He threw 20 pitches in Game 6 two days after throwing 42 pitches in Game 5 - way too much unnecessary work. Maddon made it clear to the entire world that he had no faith in his other relievers whatsoever – more on Chapman in a minute.

Fast forward to Game 7. Hendricks was effectively navigating the Indians lineup despite poor defense behind him, but Maddon pulled Hendricks with 63 pitches and a four run lead in the 5th inning. It was a dangerous and reckless move to lift the National League ERA leader for a starting pitcher in an foreign situation. They also burned a catcher and Lester came in to a game with a runner on, something Maddon himself said he wanted to avoid.

So what happens? The pitcher who shouldn't be in the game threw a bouncer in front of the catcher who shouldn't be in the game and a four-run lead instantly became a two-run lead.

Lester bailed Maddon out with a total of 3 innings, but when Chapman blew the lead in the 8th, Maddon put the Cubs in a terrible position. He was forced to either stick with a pitcher with no bullets left or go to a bullpen he tried to avoid at all costs.

How Chapman got through the ninth inning in nothing short of a miracle. Chapman threw 10 sliders and just 4 fastballs to get through the ninth unscathed, the rest of the bullpen just barely escaped the 10th, and the Cubs are world champs. If they didn't...let's just say Maddon might wish he was Bartman.

Second guessing managers is all part of what makes this game so great, and it was just part of what made this a Game 7 worth staying up past 1 a.m. to watch.

Rajai Davis, who hit just 12 homers during the season, shocked the world with a most unexpected homer off untouchable Aroldis Chapman.

The only thing missing from this series was Charlie Sheen. I soooo wanted him to throw out the first pitch. How often can you trot out a non-player with his own uniform and his own song? It would have been great way to ease some of the Game 7 anxiety for Cleveland fans and it would have been absolute mayhem. Oh well. I guess we will have to settle for one of the best Game Sevens in baseball history.

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