By Ryan Decker
The Chicago Cubs actually did it.
The team that all season long was projected and expected to win the World Series – the same franchise that has spent the last 108 years suffering in agony over not being able to win the necessary games in the playoffs –, the team that won the most games in the regular season, ended the Giants’ run at winning the World Series in even-numbered years, and went down 3-1 in games in the Fall Classic at long last came out on the right side of luck.
The Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions.
Now that the series, which was arguably the most entertaining World Series of the last 30 years – ending with Game 7 that garnered a 25.2 TV rating (last WS Game 7 in 2014 received just over a 15) and a viewing audience of over 40 million (making it the most-watched baseball game in 25 years) – most of the questions have been answered.
Most of them. A few still remain.
Here they are: the five questions I have following the World Series.
How long can the Cubs stay dominant?
The Cubs are already overwhelming favorites to repeat as World Series champs next year. However, it’s unlikely they’ll repeat as champs.
As good as Chicago is, no team in Major League Baseball has won it all in consecutive years since the New York Yankees won three-straight championships from 1998-2000.
Even though it’s unlikely, it’s not out of the question the Cubs could pull off a similar run of dominance.
Look at the players that are signed for at least two more seasons:
Add in Dexter Fowler and Jake Arrieta, who are both FA’s following next year, and you can see why the Cubs are the favorites at least for 2017, if not for the future.
Will they repeat as champs next season? It’s obviously too early to know, but the Cub are certainly in a good spot moving forward.
What happens to the Indians?
As tough of a pill as this is for the Indians to swallow, there are positive takeaways.
Few people expected the Indians get past the Red Sox and Blue Jays (two of the best offenses in the American League) to get to the World Series considering all the injuries. After that, who would’ve guessed the Tribe would go up 3-1 in the series given a lack of consistent offensive production?
Not only that, but it’s not just the Cubs that have important players locked up long term.
Key players such as Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Josh Tomlin and Cody Allen are all signed through the 2018 season. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Jose Ramirez are all scheduled to be Indians through 2020.
Corey Kluber and Francisco Lindor have five years left on their contracts.
As long as Cleveland can keep that good bullpen in tact, keep starting pitchers healthy and maybe pickup a bat to solidify the offense (or just hope Brantley can also stay healthy) there’s no doubt the Indians will be in the playoff conversation moving forward.
When does the 30 for 30 come out?
Now for the important stuff.
Like I mentioned earlier, this World Series was amazing. It was exciting.
It had offense. It had good pitching. It had a Game 7.
Game 7 had one team jump out to a lead, the other come back, and then have to come back again, and again. It even had a short rain delay and Bill Murray honking a car on the field following the game.
A documentary has to be made.
ESPN, we’re begging you. Get the interviews, get the footage, get whatever you need to recreate the suspense one more time. I’ll help out in whatever way I can.
This series had too many storylines – heck, Game 7 had too many storylines – that not doing one would be thoroughly disappointing.
Where, oh where, is Steve Bartman?
Speaking of 30 for 30’s, where is Steve Bartman?
You know Steve Bartman – the poor guy that stuck his hands out during the 2003 NLCS (along with everyone else in his section) and took the blame for interfering with what could’ve been an amazing catch against the wall in foul territory down the left field line by Moises Alou.
He’s the main character of the 30 for 30 documentary “Catching Hell.”
Someone get him on the phone. Get him in studio. Interview him in his house. We have to hear from Steve Bartman.
Maybe that sounds invasive, especially for a guy that’s spent the last 13 years of his life in seclusion, likely cutoff from contact from the outside world.
But it’s true. Here’s why:
We all know Bartman feels bad about 2003. Even though, again, he wasn’t the only one going for the ball, he took the blame.
Sure, maybe he’d want to apologize publicly for what happened. But that’s not what I, or most people I hope, care about. That was 13 years ago, and the Cubs had plenty of chances to win the 2003 NLCS.
You can’t blame it all on him.
I want to know what’s he done the last 13 years. Who has he kept in contact with? What was his reaction when he saw that final out recorded? Did he watch the game at all?
So many questions that need answered. But not about what happened 13 years ago, about what’s happened since then and what happened Wednesday night.
When is the next great Game 7?
This obviously isn’t an easy question to answer.
Who knows when we’ll have another great Game 7?
It could be next year, five years for now, or maybe the next time the two MLB teams with the longest World Series droughts meet up in the Fall Classic. As of now that would have to be between the Indians and Brewers.
*Note: Both the Rangers and Astros have longer droughts than the Brewers but, obviously, it’s not possible for a pair of AL teams to play in the World Series.
The drama from Wednesday night may never be able to be recreated.
Everything that happened was so authentic to the moment, and played out a script that couldn’t have been written any better by the best and brightest in Hollywood.
Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will forever be remembered in baseball history. And now, when you Google the longest WS droughts, it’s no longer the Cubs at the top of the list.