No more "wait 'til next year!" Kiss goodbye the "Billy Goat Curse" forever. No longer are they the "Lovable Losers." That's right! The Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in the 10th inning of the 7th game of the World Series to end a championship drought that lasted 108 years. It's truly unbelievable.
Both teams were great and are great. It is the Cubs that proved the greatest. Down in the Series 3-1, they battled back to force the greatest game seven possible. As the Cubs fans are celebrating wildly, there is heartbreak in Cleveland. This loss will hurt for a while.
In 1997 I was coaching nine players on the Cleveland Indians. We were also in the seventh and final game of the World Series. The Indians were poised to win their first world title since 1948. In the 9th inning with the Indians winning, a team official escorted me from the stands into the locker room to get ready for the festivities. Indians pitcher Orel Hershiser yells for me to take off my sport coat. He said, "You'll get champagne all over it."
As we watched the TV monitors, all in the room knew victory belonged to Cleveland. With one of the best closers in the game (Jose Mesa) on the mound, losing was unfathomable. TV broadcaster Jim Gray approached and wanted to interview me just after the game. The champagne arrived. The 30-pound Commissioner's Trophy was strategically placed in the room. Microphones and cable wires were everywhere. Lockers were covered in plastic. The celebration was about to arrive.
And then in the bottom of the 11th inning, Edgar Renteria singled home Crag Counsell to give the Florida Marlins the title. In an instant the champagne disappeared. The plastic was removed from the lockers and the microphones and cables were shuttled to the opposing locker room. Players and fans alike felt the shoulda', coulda' and woulda' deep loss.
Jim Gray? I never saw him again.
Watching last night's 7th game was "déjà vu all over again" as Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once stated. It was definitely surreal.
Now there is a new world champion and the Chicago Cubs (my hometown of 40 years) have done the unthinkable. Even suffering Cubs' fans still believe it's all a dream.
This past spring I was in Mesa, Arizona to watch the Cubs launch their season. There was electricity in the air. All teams and their fans are excited before the season officially begins. This was different. The positive vibe was incredible. Belief was gone. It had been transformed into a higher place. Expectancy was gone. It went the way of belief. As I ate a Chicago hotdog the feeling in the stadium was one of "knowing." The players knew. The fans knew.
Now the world knows.
The Chicago Cubs are World Champions!
Is there a learning moment from this World Series? For one, "it's not over until it's over." The real take-away, however, is anything and everything is possible. With "free will" you can craft a dream in the privacy of your mind. By adding a relentless pursuit of excellence with positive doses of discipline, focus, confidence, calm and fun, this mental movie of future success can be turned into reality.
A victory like this says, "Good fortune favors the bold." The Cubs were bold in their play and their resolve. They were bold in their commitment to one vision. They were bold in their purpose and intention.
"Let's go Cubbies!" is topping the charts in the Windy City.
Stay in the Zone Chicago!