Most people do not experience a "historical miracle" in their lifetime, so to experience two such "miracles" in a span of one week is almost unbelievable, and to some it was. One of these miracles was the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series on November 2. Some will say that the Cubs winning the championship is short of a miracle, and I might agree, but to many Cubs fans who knew about "the curse", it certainly felt like a miracle. The Cubs owned the longest championship drought in sports... 108 years!
The last time they were even in the Series was 71 years ago! As the story goes, there was an actual curse put on the Cubs by Billy Sianis as he was ejected from game 4 of the 1945 World Series by none other than Cubs owner, Philip Knight Wrigley. As he was leaving, Sianis said that the Cubs would never win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley Field again. They went on to lose that Series to Detroit in seven games.
Their best hope of winning came in 2003 when it looked like they were destined to go to the World Series, going up 3-1 against the Florida Marlins. All they had to do was win one of the next three games. Ahead 3-0, in the 8th inning of game 6, it looked certain Moisés Alou would catch a foul ball, only to be foiled by a Cubs fan named Steve Bartman. The Cubs ended up losing that game badly which had appeared to be a sure win just moments before. After losing game 7 at home, a lot of fans pointed to "the curse". They were swept 3-0 in post-season play in 2007 and 2008. How was this curse going to be broken? Many wondered if it could be broken.
In 2009, Thomas Ricketts became chairman, with the Ricketts family becoming principal owner of the Cubs organization. The Cubs struggled the next three seasons, ending with a 71-91 record in 2011. Ricketts was determined to break the curse and get the team back to the World Series. But to break the curse, you need a curse-breaker! So Ricketts sought after the best curse-breaker he could find... Theo Epstein! He is the one who broke the "Curse of the Bambino" when the Boston Red Sox ended their 86-year drought by winning the 2004 World Series. He helped the Red Sox win another championship in 2007. Ricketts lured Epstein away for over $3 million a year for a 5-year contract and a title of President of Baseball Operations.
Theo Epstein, 42, was in charge, and could do anything he wanted to rebuild the Cubs, but he had only 5 years to do it! He hired Jed Hoyer right away to be the new general manager. He started to put the pieces together little by little. Epstein acquired new players and traded others, looking for more youth and potential rather than experience. It showed, with the Cubs going 61-101 in 2012, 66-96 in 2013, and 73-89 in 2014. Don't worry, some said; that was part of the plan. Even though they sometimes played like a minor league team, a lot of young promising ball players emerged. All they needed was the right manager, and Epstein found his man in Joe Maddon, who joined the team in 2015.
Maddon gelled with the players and started winning right away. The Cubs showed promise, finishing 97-65 in 2015, and flirted with the post-season. Many said that 2016 would be the Cubs' year, which would be Epstein's 5th season. They had the best record in the league at 103-58; no one was close. The Cubs beat the Giants 3 games to one in the first series of the post season. Next they beat the Dodgers 4 games to 2 and captured the pennant. One curse down, one more to go.
The Cubs entered the World Series with high hopes of defeating the Cleveland Indians, only to go down 3 games to 1. If they wanted to eliminate the curse, they would have to win three games in a row! They won the next two games, sending the Series to a game 7. The Cubs went up 6-3 in the 6th inning. Could it be?! But in the 8th inning, the Indians tied the score at 6-6, which stayed unchanged through the 9th. Extra innings! Then it started to rain. Oh no! Talk of continuing the next day was rumored. Was this part of the curse?! But the game continued and the Cubs went up 8-6. The Indians scored a run to make it 8-7 with the go-ahead run at the plate. No, no, no! The Indians hadn't won the championship since 1948, but it was the Cubs' year. Kris Bryant, while slipping and smiling, threw to Anthony Rizzo for the final out. Cubs win! Cubs win! Many fans had tears streaming down their faces. Others were jumping up and down, not able to control themselves. And some stared in awesome wonder as they witnessed a miracle. It had really happened! The curse was no more! And sure enough, Theo Epstein did as expected; he brought a championship to the Cubs and their fans in five years!
The second historic "miracle" happened 6 days later and was an even bigger event since there were so many millions who were in disbelief. It all started on June 16, 2015 when billionaire and businessman Donald J. Trump announced that he was running for president in the 2016 election. At the time, many scoffed or laughed at the thought of Trump being president. Still some, especially those in the media, welcomed the idea of Trump joining the Republicans to add to the "circus" environment - and because they felt that Trump had 0% chance of actually winning.
Trump came in second in the Iowa primary and then went on to win 7 out of the next 8 primaries, even with his "over-the-top" and insulting comments. As candidates started to drop out of the race, Trump kept winning most of the primaries until he reached the number of delegates needed to secure the party's presidential nomination in May. The GOP was stunned! They had never thought that Trump would actually win the nomination, and now they were stuck with him as their candidate.
On the other side, Clinton was taking hit after hit from Bernie Sanders, the DNC's thorn. Since he was not the party's pick, he was supposed to go away rather quietly, but refused. In the end, the DNC and the mainstream media got their candidate in Clinton. Both Trump and Clinton endured twists and turns in the debates and dirty politics. Trump for the most part did not have a ground game and spent only a fraction of the money on advertising as Clinton did, who spent many millions. Trump instead visited cities in the battleground states, with thousands coming out to support him and to hear what he had to say in his rallies. Many skeptics said that he could not win this way.
When it got to the morning of November 8 (Election Day), nearly all news networks had written off Trump. Why not! It seemed that all the polls favored Clinton and all the prognosticators and pundits were picking Clinton to win overwhelmingly. No one on TV was giving Trump a chance, including Fox News. The networks just wanted to see how badly Trump would lose and celebrate a Clinton win. Clinton's campaign and supporters were already celebrating.
It was projected that Clinton had an 80% chance of winning. Some had it at 90% or higher. But as time ticked away, nothing was certain. Then around 10 p.m., Charlie Rose of CBS said, "What's going on?" Michael Gerson (Washington Post) answered, "This is a populist wave, a reaction against globalism." Mark Leiborich (NY Times) added that the media and polls were wrong. Bob Schieffer (CBS) said, referring to the voters, "They are sick of Washington! They are sick of the establishment! They are sick of nothing happening!"
By midnight, many now saw "the writing on the wall". Frank Luntz said that this was inconceivable 5 hours ago. Peggy Noonan said that this was a rebuking of a decayed establishment. Everyone on CBS agreed that this was the largest political upset in American history. Nancy Cordes, reporting from the Clinton campaign headquarters, said, "They are all shell-shocked. They were not just confident; they were sure of it. All of the data showed that she would win."
Juan Williams of Fox News said, "How does this make sense?! It's just out of the blue! It is revolutionary!" Moments later, he added, "I still think that people do not think this is real. Is this a movie?!" They all agreed at Fox, "We have never seen anything like this. It is the biggest upset in political history!" Some called it a miracle. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is our next president... unbelievable.