“God Has Smiled on Me” (I. Jones)
Rev. James Cleveland, Oh Happy Day, 2004
“There’s a favorite saying in Chicago,’’ [Billy] Williams said, “I hope they do it in my lifetime.’ So everybody who’s living today, got to witness this.”
“I can’t put this into words,’’ said [Kerry] Wood, whose team was five outs away from the 2003 World Series, only for the city to be introduced to Steve Bartman.
“It’s epic. It’s amazing. What this team has done, and what they’ve done for the city and for the organization, it’s a mind-blowing experience.
“These guys come out, unaffected by the history, and we’re in a place we haven’t been in a long time.
“Now, they’ve set themselves in history, and they’re going to be linked forever.’’
[T]he average age of the Game 6 starting lineup was 23.
“There has been so much emotion over the years from this fan base,” Cubs outfielder Ben Zobrist said. “It’s not just Chicago. It’s not just Illinois. It’s all over the country. It’s all over the world.’’
Hard to believe that four years ago, these Cubs were 100-game losers, and a laughingstock.
Today, they are champions of the National League, with hopes of bringing home their first World Series title since the Teddy Roosevelt administration, back in 1908.
“I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago,’’’’ said Cubs starter Jon Lester, who shared the NLCS MVP award with second baseman Javier Baez. “It’s unbelievable to be part of it. We still have a little ways to go, but we can celebrate.
“We’re going to have a good time tonight, get drunk a little bit with everyone else, and then we’ll get ready for Cleveland.’’
“To stand on that platform afterwards,’’ Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, “and you’re looking at the ballpark and the fans and the “W’ flags everywhere. I think about the fans, and their parents, and their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and everything else that’s been going on here for a while.’’
This game really wasn’t about suspense, but inevitability.
It was over in the first inning when the great Kershaw – who pitched seven scoreless innings here in blanking the Cubs in Game 2 – gave up two first-inning runs for the first time in 44 starts.
Kyle Hendricks, the major league’s ERA leader, who was acquired four years ago from Texas for Ryan Dempster, suffocated the Dodgers’ lineup. He gave up a leadoff single to Andrew Toles in the first inning, and went 86 pitches until he gave up another one.
By night’s end, the Cubs had outscored the Dodgers 23-6 since falling in a 2-1 hole in L.A.
“They were relentless,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You hate to have sour grapes, but the better team won the series.’’
“I love being in a city that’s playing October baseball where you can feel everybody captivated by the ballclub,’’ [Theo] Epstein said. “Everybody is tired from staying up late, prioritizing baseball above anything else.
“You look around, you smile, you soak it all in, and it takes your breath away.’’
The Cubs are in the World Series.
—Bob Nightengale, USA Today, 10/23/16