CLEVELAND -- There will be books written about what just happened and documentary movies, probably by ESPN, and a rich oral history will emerge and, who knows, the world as we know it might suddenly be altered. The Chicago Cubs are world champions. Go ahead. Type the words. It feels strange, right?
The World Series was a fascinating matchup between two dynamic young teams with elite, colorful managers. But the poor Cleveland Indians, who came so close as they have so many times before, know this will be remembered as the year the Cubs broke their 108-year championship drought. And in being the team thus victimized, it is the Indians who inherit the mantle of longest-suffering franchise in baseball after Wednesday night's 8-7 defeat in Game 7 of the World Series.
Let’s run through the Cubs' biggest moments of the World Series. As we did after the Cubs' victory in the National League Division Series and their National League Championship Series win, we’ll use win probability added (WPA) data from fangraphs.com for a numerical element, though the actual moments were chosen subjectively.
We won't include the final out, a play that will be played in most of Chicago forevermore. But there is no metric that can capture what that moment meant to so many.
1. Ben Zobrist's RBI double in Game 7
(Win probability added: 32.2 percent)
Zobrist's go-ahead RBI in the 10th was the blow that finally put the Cubs over the top in a game that seemed destined to join all the other disasters in franchise playoff history. It couldn't have been any harder, but the Cubs are the champs.
2. Addison Russell's grand slam in Game 6
(WPA: 10.5 percent)
Six of the past seven teams to go on the road in the World Series down 3-2 had fallen in Game 6. Russell got the Cubs started in the first, following Kris Bryant's solo homer with a two-run double. But his third-inning grand slam off Dan Otero stunned Indians fans and sent Cubs fans all over the Midwest sprinting for their cars to begin a pilgrimage to Game 7.
(WPA: 3.2 percent)
Chapman struck out Ramirez twice in Game 5, which, first of all, tells you how long his outing was. But the symmetry is perfect here. When Chapman came on to strike out Ramirez with a runner on in the seventh, it showed that manager Joe Maddon was willing to use Chapman in an extended outing in the same way Cleveland got so much value out of Andrew Miller throughout the playoffs. When Chapman struck out Ramirez to end the game, it showed he was able to be that guy. It changed the Series.
4. Jake Arrieta's outing in Game 2
(WPA: 22.0 percent)
After being shut down by Corey Kluber in Game 1, the Cubs needed Arrieta to come up big. You could do worse than sending out a reigning Cy Young winner, but the fact is that Arrieta had been up and down over the second half of the season. But he responded in Game 2, holding the Indians scoreless for five innings before leaving a runner on base in the sixth that scored after he departed. It was just what the Cubs needed, as the offense finally got going and gave Arrieta a five-run cushion.
5. Kyle Schwarber's double in Game 1
(WPA: 2.4 percent)
The Cubs lost Game 1 by a 6-0 score, but when Schwarber nearly went yard against Kluber early in the game, it showed that he wasn't just medically cleared to play. It showed he was ready to ball. Schwarber's presence loomed large all through the series, even when he wasn't playing.