No matter how you slice it (or who you were cheering for), Game 7 of the 2016 World Series will go down as one of the greatest postseason games in Major League Baseball history.
Years from now, we'll remember it right up there with the Curt Schilling bloody sock game. Ruth calling his shot. Game 6 of 1991 series with Kirby Puckett's home run and Jack Buck's iconic call. Don Larsen's perfect game, and the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951.
What makes Wednesday night's game so interesting, and perhaps what separates it from the rest, was that the critical moment didn't stem from a managerial decision, a walk-off home run, or an incredible pitching performance. In fact, the most important moment in the game happened when neither team was even on the field.
The moment when everything changed in Game 7 happened when mother nature decided to open up the skies for 17 crucial minutes, and both teams retreated to the clubhouse. Those 17 minutes allowed the Chicago Cubs to break a 108-year old curse and win the World Series.
For the Cubs, things were slipping away in a hurry before the tarp came out to cover the field. Their ace reliever Aroldis Chapman had given up three runs, and looked gassed. Joe Maddon had no ready answer in the bullpen. Even Jake Arrieta, Tuesday night's starter, was up at one point.
Maddon was getting out-managed by Terry Francona, and had made enough questionable decisions (like bunting Javier Baez with two strikes), that it looked like the Cubs were circling the drain.
For Cleveland, the Tribe has clearly seized the momentum. Rajai Davis had just hit the game tying home run in the bottom of the 8th inning (the first allowed by Chapman in a Cubs uniform this season), and Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw had slammed the door on the Cubs after an incredible defensive play by Francisco Lindor to end the ninth.
As they say, however, weather has an incredible way of leveling the playing field.
In those 17-minutes, both teams appeared to come back to center.
Jason Heyward, an overpriced superstar who had contributed essentially nothing to the Cubs in the postseason, called a quick players only meeting the Chicago clubhouse that settled the nerves. It will easily go down as his biggest contribution of the series.
The Indians lost some of the momentum they had been carrying going into the rain delay, and Terry Francona made perhaps his one questionable decision of the night - deciding to bring Bryan Shaw back into the game despite the 20+ minute layoff.
Shaw wasn't quite as effective as he was before the break, and his fastball didn't have the movement it did prior to the break. The Cubs strung together a few hits, had some great base running, scored two runs, and the rest is history.
When we remember this particular Game 7 ten years from now, we'll probably talk about the comebacks, the managerial chess moves, and of course the Cubs breaking the 108-year streak of futility. But we probably won't talk about those 17 crucial minutes when the teams weren't playing ball that ultimately made the difference.
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