Enough drama for any­body

Game 7 could be start of a base­ball re­nais­sance

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - By Paul Sul­li­van

CHICAGO — Base­ball is a dy­ing sport, or so we’re told.

It’s too slow. The games are too long. There’s not enough ac­tion to ap­pease the all-im­por­tant mil­len­ni­als.

Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred even talked about chang­ing the rules to limit pitch­ing moves and speed up the ac­tion, a knee-jerk idea that makes you won­der whether he even un­der­stands base­ball.

Then came Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which should put an end to all of that non­sense.

The Cubs’ 8-7 10-in­ning vic­tory was so dra­matic, so full of man­age­rial in­trigue and player emo­tion, and so much fun to watch that it could be the start of a base­ball re­nais­sance.

“It was epic,” Cubs pres­i­dent Theo Ep­stein said. “Has to be one of the top three games of all time.”

“Hard to be­lieve,” ex-Cub Ryne Sand­berg added. “One of the best Series of all time, and one of the best sev­enth games. Hard to take, but I’ll take it.”

The epic show­down be­tween two teams with sto­ried his­to­ries of col­lapses helped make it that much sweeter. An­other patented Cubs col­lapse was about to hap­pen, only for a vin­tage In­di­ans melt­down to swal­low it up.

When it all came crash­ing down for the Cubs in the eighth in­ning of Game 7, that old fa­mil­iar feel­ing re­turned.

Aroldis Chap­man had just sur­ren­dered a game-ty­ing two-run homer to Ra­jai Davis with the Cubs four outs away from their first World Series cham­pi­onship since 1908.

“I about threw up three times, lit­er­ally,” Cubs owner Laura Rick­etts said. “This was one of the hard­est nights of my life, in­clud­ing child­birth. ... My nephew started cry­ing in the ninth, and I said, ‘Hey buddy, Cubs never quit. We never quit. Don’t cry. We’re go­ing to get an­other at-bat. I prom­ise you.’ “And they did.” Laura’s brother, Tom, the Cubs chair­man, wasn’t ill, just dis­ap­pointed.

“Ob­vi­ously, I was like a lot of other peo­ple, hop­ing these would be the last few outs of the game,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way. Aroldis has been so clutch for us all sea­son, and to give up a hit like that was un­ex­pected. But no­body freaked out. Every­one just kind of held to­gether, kept mov­ing for­ward, Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don holds the Com­mis­sioner’s Tro­phy as Ben Zo­brist re­acts after the Cubs won the Series on Thurs­day morn­ing for the first time since 1908. and fin­ished the game.”

Well, some freaked out, even if they didn’t care to ad­mit it. There’s no more pres­sure on a player than be­ing in Game 7 of the World Series, and there’s no more pain than be­ing pegged as an all-time goat.

Chap­man’s in­ser­tion in the eighth in­ning had Amer­ica scratch­ing its head. And when he failed in the big­gest game of his life, it was all on man­ager Joe Mad­don for putting him in that sit­u­a­tion in the first place.

But Chap­man got out of the in­ning and re­tired the In­di­ans in or­der in the ninth, which pre­ceded the 17-minute rain de­lay that was treated like manna from heaven.

“The best rain de­lay of all time,” An­thony Rizzo said.

There are no stats to quan­tify the value of rain de­lays, but this one was im­por­tant be­cause of the words of Ja­son Hey­ward, who gath­ered the team to­gether and told themthis wasthe time to show what they were made of.

“It was in­for­ma­tion we al­ready knew,” Ad­di­son Rus­sell said. “Just re­it­er­at­ing it and putting it in a [dif­fer­ent] way. J-Hey said it so beau­ti­fully, and we all came to­gether.”

In the end, Game7was­not­tooslow, it was not too long, and there was enough ac­tion to sat­isfy any gen­er­a­tion, even one with a short at­ten­tion span.

Base­ball is alive and well, thanks to a World Series game for the ages. Bravo to the Cubs and the In­di­ans for re­mind­ing us again why we love this game.

DAVID J. PHILIP/POOL/GETTY IM­AGES

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