Chicago Cubs: October 29, 2016 – the day the dream almost died

On October 29, 2016, the Chicago Cubs lost to the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of the World Series, falling behind three games to one in the best-of-seven.

Here, three years after the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, we look back fondly on that time when our dream came true. We’re coming up on the anniversary of that memorable Game 7 in Cleveland, which was a nerve-wracking game in itself. Yet a few nights earlier at Wrigley Field, things looked much bleaker.

The previous night, the Cubs lost a tough 1-0 decision to the Indians after Javier Baez struck out with two runners in scoring position to end the game. On this night, the Cubs sent John Lackey to the mound opposite Indians ace Corey Kluber. It was a game the Cubs needed to win, yet it would be a tall task.

I remember that night well, as we were driving home from my stepson’s football game listening to the beginning of the game on the radio. I could feel the excitement in the crowd listening in, more so than any other time I have ever listened to the audio of a Cubs broadcast. After Lackey put up a zero in the first, Dexter Fowler doubled to lead off the bottom of the first, and he scored on Anthony Rizzo‘s single. Wrigley went wild.

Yet any momentum the Cubs had from that small rally quickly went away when Carlos Santana led off the top of the second with a home run. Then the Indians rallied for another run, aided by two Kris Bryant errors. It went downhill from there.

The big blow came in the top of the seventh, as the Indians were rallying off Justin Grimm. Joe Maddon brought in Travis Wood to face Jason Kipnis. The Indians’ second baseman devastated Cubs fans by knocking a three-run homer to put his team up 7-1, all but assuring a 3-1 series lead for the visitors. (The final score was 7-2.)

I still have that TV image of Kipnis’s teammates carrying him on their shoulders in the dugout etched in my brain. It was painful to watch: The Cubs were clearly the better team coming into this series. It was the closest I’d ever seen them come to winning a championship. It just couldn’t end like this. I sat on my couch and watched it all unfold, never feeling more dejected.

I understand that some Cubs fans might think it’s a little depressing to revisit this low moment in team history. Yet it’s a reminder of how difficult it is to win a championship and how much of a rollercoaster ride that 2016 postseason was. We can’t get the whole experience of reminiscing about that time without remembering the bad along with the good.

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As we know, things got much better and this story has a happy ending. The Cubs would win the next night at Wrigley Field, then take Games 6 and 7 in Cleveland to win the series. Yet I hope all the Chicago Cubs fans out there appreciate how hard this team had to fight to win a championship in 2016.

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