World Series Game 4 highlights between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. Just when you thought that Steve Bartman was the most hated man in his Chicago neighborhood, along came Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.
Kipnis, who grew up in the north side of Chicago, down the street from Bartman, and even attended the same school as the man blamed for extending the Cubs’ jinx, sure knows how to make it a long, cold winter in Chicago.
It was Kipnis’ three-run homer in the seventh inning Saturday night that broke the heart of Chicago Cubs’ fans everywhere, sealing the Cubs’ fate, and leaving them on the verge of uttering that old refrain:
“Wait ‘til Next Year.’’
The Indians, who have turned this entire postseason into their own pitching showcase, clobbered the Cubs, 7-2, taking a 3 games to 1 lead in this best-of-seven World Series.
Just one more victory, and for the first time since 1948, the Indians are World Series champions. One more defeat, the Cubs will go home for the 108th consecutive winter without a World Series title, only this time, the heartbreak hurts a little worse.
“I love it,’’ says Kipnis. “I hope we break all of them. I hope when I come home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, the offseason, I want to have a smile on my face when I look at all these Cubs’ fans.’’
The sellout crowd of 41,706, who has watched their team now score just two runs in two games at Wrigley Field, can hardly believe what they’re watching.
Come on, this isn’t supposed to be happening.
Wasn’t it inevitable, from the first day of spring training, to their 103 victories in the regular season, through the first two rounds of the postseason, that this was going to be the Cubs’ year?
The world was going to stop, and millions of baseball fans would pay homage to the end of baseball’s longest World Series drought.
Well, someone sure forgot to tell the Indians the storyline, who are spinning their own beautiful narrative.
The Indians, of course, have been in this position before, only to endure heartache.
They were up 3 games to 1 in the 2007 ALCS, needing just one victory to reach the World Series, only to be outscored, 30-5 in the next three games.
They were two outs away from winning the 1997 World Series, only to blow a ninth-inning lead, and lose in 11 innings.
Now, here they are again, on the threshold of baseball’s ultimate prize, the coveted World Series trophy.
Just one victory Sunday in the final game of the season at Wrigley Field, or one in the final two scheduled games at Progressive Field in Cleveland, and the Indians will join the Cavs to make Cleveland Titletown USA, 2016.
So, what can go wrong?
Then again, these aren’t your parents’ Cleveland Indians, or even your grandparents’ club.
This is a team that has absolutely dominated the postseason, and only now that the Cubs are on the verge of elimination, has anyone noticed.
“I don't know that we've peaked,’’ said Cleveland manager Terry Francona, who has had one of the finest postseasons of any manager in history. “I mean, we haven't swung the bats very well the last couple of weeks. I think that it shows what type of team we can be though. You know, just try to find a way to win the game you're playing that night, whether it's getting one run or 10. And I don't think you have to come to a moment in the season where your team is special.
“You know, in my mind, I like them a lot, and they are very special. I don't think you have to have the stamp of a World Series on your team to feel that way.
“Sometimes things happen you can't overcome. They've done a really good job of overcoming a lot. But if it got to a point where it was too much, that wouldn't take away how I feel about them.’’
The Indians have overcome every obstacle thrown their way. They lost two starting pitchers in the last two months. Their two catchers got hurt. Another catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, vetoed a trade to Cleveland. They even had a drone knock down one of their starters.
It’s the Indians.
They build them tough in Cleveland, with a team that ranked only 21st in payroll when the season started, and with a starting rotation that actually earns less than Cubs starters John Lackey and Jon Lester.
They refuse to let anything stand in their way, no matter how many hearts they break along the way.
It was Indians ace Corey Kluber, who else, who pitched another masterpiece, giving up just five hits in six innings. He gave up two hits and a run to the first three hitters he faced, and then retired 16 of the next 20 batters he faced, without another Cubs’ baserunner touching third base. He’ll pitch Game 7, if needed, or else will end his postseason having yielded a 0.89 ERA