Maddon got away with doing what Maddon does: He overused his closer, Wade Davis, for a seven-out save. That may come back to haunt him, as it almost did with Aroldis Chapman last year. Or maybe Maddon will get away with it again.
In any case, the Cubs won another close, big one — just as they defeated Cleveland last November in a meandering Game 7 to clinch the World Series. It is time for even the most beaten-down, wind-worn Chicago pessimist to admit the Cubs are a clutch ball club with a gifted lineup. All that is left now is to choose a successor in misery.
That is not easy, because there are several candidates.
Washington fans are certainly in the running. The credentials are there: The Nats have never won a postseason series, and their franchise history is pathetic. They used to be the Montreal Expos, who were titleless from 1969 to 2004. The Expos’ best shot at a banner was aborted by a players’ strike in 1994.
The old Washington Senators tortured D.C. residents in all four of their professional manifestations, winning just one World Series, in 1924. The Senators were the inspiration for “Damn Yankees,” a homage to the ultimate underdog. And lest we forget: The city of Washington is the pseudo-home of the most famously terrible team of them all — basketball’s Washington Generals.
Washington fans are certainly worthy, yet there are other strong contenders. The Cleveland Indians haven’t won a championship since 1948. They came within one run of doing it last season, then lost to the Cubs in extra innings. They put together an epic winning streak during the regular season this year and entered October as title favorites, only to blow a two-games-to-none lead over the Yankees in their American League division series.
Next, consider the Houston Astros. They have never won a World Series in their 55-year history. During that span, they have had two different nicknames (they were born the Colt .45s) and three different ballparks and somehow have been outshined by their expansion partners from 1962, the Mets (which isn’t easy). To further torment their supporters, the Astros traditionally have had the ugliest jerseys in baseball.
The Cubs used to be everybody’s second-favorite team, out of sheer pity. That surely is not the case anymore because other fan bases deserve support. Two of the four metropolitan areas left to cheer in the league championship series — Houston and Los Angeles — are working to recover from very real natural disasters, floods and wildfires.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are never going to get sympathy votes from anyone, but they have gone eight years without a championship, an eternity by Bronx standards.
The Cubbies? They are just the Cubs now, defending champs. They win big games, but lose one title they always owned: They aren’t the cutest baseball team in America anymore.
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