The rain couldn’t have come at a better time for the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of their World Series win over the Cleveland Indians. And those 17 minutes might just hold the key to the end of a 108-year drought.
To borrow boxing cliché – just as the Cubs borrowed fictional heavyweight champion’s theme music – the Indians had the Cubs on the ropes. But then Chicago was saved by the bell … err, the rain.
During that brief delay, Jason Heyward – the same Jason Heyward who had struggled all season to live up to his eight-year, $184 million free-agent deal and who had been even more unproductive all postseason – called a team meeting in a weight room at Progressive Field.
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And that’s where some magic happened. Heyward’s message, via MLB.com:
“I told them I love them. I told them I'm proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point. I said, 'I don't know how it's going to happen, how we're going to do it, but let's go out and try to get a W.'”
Kris Bryant, who got the assist on the final out, offered some additional insight:
“It was the best thing for us. We all got together in the weight room, we all supported each other. [Aroldis] Chapman was a little upset. That guy works his butt off. Jason Heyward led the way, talking us up, getting us ready, and you saw what we did there.”
What they did there was score two runs in the top of the 10th to take an 8-6 lead, then held on for an 8-7 win that gave the franchise its first World Series title since 1908.
Credit Heyward, whose most valuable contribution to the Cubs this postseason might have come from his mouth and his heart — not his bat and his glove.