‘Why not us?’ long-suffering Cubs ask about title


For a Chicago Cubs team playing in its first World Series since 1945 and seeking its first title since 1908, overcoming another few unlikely historic baseball feats is no big deal.

Chicago edged Cleveland 3-2 on Sunday at iconic Wrigley Field to pull within 3-2 in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final and force a sixth game Tuesday in Cleveland.

The Cubs have America’s record-longest sports title drought, with Cleveland not having taken the trophy since 1948 for baseball’s second-longest championship futility streak.

Only six of 46 teams in World Series history have recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win the title, none since the 1985 Kansas city Royals. Ten teams have tried and failed to make the comeback since.

“Why not us?” asks Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, whose solo home run launched a three-run fourth inning for the Cubs on their way to their first World Series win at Wrigley Field since 1945.

“That’s kind of our (motto). I feel like we play our best with our backs against the wall. We went out and took care of business. Hopefully we can get out there and win game six because you never know what can happen in a game seven.”

The Cubs feature a World Series record six players under age 25. They scoff at the notion of the team being “cursed” and don’t pile past failures onto their shoulders even though the long-suffering and devoted fan base carries the suffering of decades as a badge of honor.

“We’re all about writing our own history,” Bryant said. “This team is a special one. There 17 times this year we lost a game and went on to win three in a row. So why can’t we do that now?”

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell sees it much the same way, taking on the challenge of lifting the Cubs above the naysayers and doom predictors whose mantra has been “Wait until next year.”

“We’re making history. Why stop?” Russell said. “This is entertaining to us. It’s fun and we live for this. We see a lot of challenges ahead of us. We embrace them. It’s what we have been talking about since spring training.”

Game five winning pitcher Jon Lester said he would be ready in manager Joe Maddon calls him for some relief work in game six Tuesday or a possible seventh game Wednesday despite tossing six innings to take the decision on Sunday.

“Whatever we’ve got to do,” Lester said. “This time of year, there are no barriers. There’s no nothing. It’s all hands on deck.

“I love our bullpen. I love what these guys have done. But if there is a matchup in there that Joe likes, I’ll be ready.”

Maddon is hopeful Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner as top pitcher, will pitch well and the Cubs can reach a winner-take-all seventh game.

“I’ve never been looking forward to wanting to play the seventh game of a World Series in my life,” he said.

“I would like to believe we’re going to gain some momentum from this game going back there.”

© 2016 AFP

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