It’s unfair to question where the 2016 World Series ranks among the all-time greats. We’re still less than 24 hours removed. Only time and perspective will allow for a proper assessment.

But for the social media era? This thing took the cake and then some. Facebook and Twitter weren’t around for the 2004 Boston Red Sox; you couldn’t live-tweet the bloody sock game. Social media wasn’t even a construct when Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped the Arizona Diamondback shock the New York Yankees in 2001.

This was the first all-time classic to play itself out in real time, with fans and analysts reacting as the Chicago Cubs earned their first World Series championship since 1908. Everything about the series crested in perfect fashion. The Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit against a team from Cleveland. 

They did so in horrifyingly stressful fashion, doing almost everything they could to blow things up Wednesday night. Manager Joe Maddon may have never recovered if it weren’t for Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero putting the Cubs ahead for good in the 10th inning. His managerial strategy would have gone down as arguably the worst in baseball history.

And yet…here we are. The streets of Chicago are still in champagne-soaked shambles. Here’s a quick look at some of the stars who made this World Series what it was and highlights from Game 7. 


World Series Stars

1. Cubs OF Ben Zobrist

First-star honors obviously have to go to the man who broke the tie in the 10th inning and walked away as World Series MVP. Zobrist didn’t have much of an impact in his first four at-bats. He hadn’t struck out, but a lineout to center field to end the Cubs’ fifth-inning rally was his only solid contact.

Then, after watching the Indians intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo to get to him, Zobrist changed history. He finished the series hitting .357/.419/.500, driving in a pair of runs while having at least one hit in six of the seven games.

Maddon spoke of Zobrist‘s importance when talking to reporters (via the Chicago Tribune‘s Paul Skrbina):

He sets examples for everybody’s at-bats. His at-bats are the most professional on a daily basis.

He’s among that elite group in all of professional baseball that, even if he’s not getting hits or if he’s in a slump, he’s still doing something to contribute to the offensive side just based on his at-bats, his willingness to accept walks, his good baserunning ability. All of that stuff, just by watching it, helps these other kids.

Zobrist‘s four-year, $56 million contract looks like one of the biggest bargains in baseball at the moment.


2. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo

Through the first three games of the series, Rizzo was hitting .182 and looked to be near the top of the list of Cubs disappointments. But he pitched in a pair of multi-hit games and had at least one hit in each of the final six games of the series.

With Kyle Schwarber only intermittently available and Kris Bryant not picking things up until the final three-game stretch, it was Rizzo acting as the Cubs’ most reliable power bat. He recorded four extra-base hits and helped Bryant hoist their Game 6 victory on their backs, driving in a pair of runs and hitting his lone homer of the series.

Add in a keen eye at the dish, and Rizzo proved once again why he and Bryant are the bedrocks of this lineup for the foreseeable future.


3. Indians P Corey Kluber/Andrew Miller

While Game 7 wasn’t either of their best efforts, it’s impossible to write about this series or the 2016 playoffs without highlighting their contributions. Kluber was the saving grace of a depleted pitching staff all postseason long, winning Games 1 and 4 while giving up just one run over 12 innings.

The same stuff just wasn’t there with him pitching on short rest for the second straight outing. He missed a couple of spots, the Cubs made him pay and he ceded to Miller—a saving grace who himself couldn’t find his best stuff.

Miller was a deserving ALCS MVP who went his first 16 postseason innings without giving up a run, but he started showing the effects. He gave up a late home run in Cleveland’s Game 5 win and was rocked for two runs on four hits Wednesday. While Miller had a full three days off, he looked mortal for the first time all postseason.

Still, these guys deserve all the credit in the world for nearly hoisting the Indians to a World Series.


World Series Stats

7: Number of hits by Francisco Lindor in the first four games of the World Series.

1: Number of hits by Lindor in the final three games, including an 0-for-8 stretch in Games 6 and 7.

3-1: Cubs’ record with Kyle Schwarber in the starting lineup.

16: Kyle Schwarber hits in 44 career postseason at-bats (.364 average).

4: Times Aroldis Chapman went longer than one inning during the regular season.

4: Times Chapman went longer than one inning during the World Series.

A Boatload: Millions of dollars Chapman and Dexter Fowler made themselves this postseason. Chapman’s Game 7 struggles now fade to black rather than becoming his career-defining moment.

1: Player younger than Javier Baez to hit a home run in a winner-take-all World Series game, per ESPN Stats & Info. That player was Mickey Mantle.

4: Number of players who have won back-to-back World Series championships after switching leagues, per ESPN Stats & Info. Ben Zobrist, who was part of the Kansas City Royals last season, became the fourth Wednesday.

All of These Dope Andrew Miller Stats:


Game 7 Highlights

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