The Chicago Cubs won the National League Championship Series with a win this evening against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 at Wrigley Field, earning their first World Series berth since 1945.
Three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw was expected to defeat the Cubs and force the NLCS into Game 7. After shutting out the Cubs in Game 2, by a score of 1-0 on a solo home run, “he has seemingly found his playoff stride, [and] the Dodgers enter Game 6 with an advantage,” wrote Mike Chiari on The Bleacher Report.
So much for the odds. One can hardly blame Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for sticking with his ace, but Kershaw gave up 5 runs in as many innings, two of them on solo home runs, and was done for the night. Four teams in baseball history have come back to win elimination games from a deficit of 5 runs or greater, but not tonight. The Cubs had a date with destiny.
Nate Silver, the founder of the website 538, which predicts election outcomes—the domain name reflects the number of votes to be cast for president by the Electoral College—yesterday gave the Cubs a 51 percent chance of winning the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. Mr Silver, a statistics whiz, gained notoriety by predicting game outcomes in baseball and other sports.
Of course, Cubs fans have heard some version of this before. The team entered Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS under the same conditions—up three games to two, needing only to win one of the next two games (both at Wrigley Field) to clinch the pennant—but then disaster struck. They also led the 1984 NLCS two games to none, needing to win only one of the next three games in San Diego to advance (back when the league championship series used a best-of-five format). That advantage conferred an even greater pennant probability than Chicago has now or had in 2003, and they still managed to blow it. So Chicagoans can be forgiven if they’re not booking travel to Cleveland quite yet.
But Cubs fans are making plans for Cleveland as I write this. The team has disappointed the odds-makers before, and in baseball during late October, anything can happen. For now, though, it’s the first pennant for the Cubs in 71 years. For the record, Kyle Hendricks was the winning pitcher for the Cubs. He went 7⅓ innings, gave up only 2 hits, and struck out 6 batters.
Finally, about journalism: I think it’s an unwritten rule that every single article about the Chicago Cubs has to mention, at least one time, one of the following terms:
• goat • curse • lovable loser
So there. I mentioned all of them in my article. What they mean is completely irrelevant to the story for this team, led by a winning manager in Joe Maddon, and so we will move on for a World Series that could take us through the first few days of November in the Windy City. If the Cubs win, it will be the first World Series victory for the franchise since 1908. Game 1 is on Tuesday evening, October 25.