A seven game series. An historic Game 7. A tie game after a full nine innings played, with neither team refusing to go away.
Was this the best World Series we've ever seen? You certainly couldn't have written the ending any better.
The world of Major League Baseball is brutal. If success is measured with a championship (as it is in most professional sports), there is only one winner every year, with 29 losers.
For the past 108 years, the Cubs have been one of the losers. But this morning, for the first time since 1908, the following words are true:
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
My heart goes out to the Cleveland Indians and their fans. They fought, and fought hard--and now they've taken over the title for "the team with the longest drought without winning the World Series."
But today, we must give credit where credit is due.
The Cubs could've said: "Look, maybe we should just embrace a different role."
The team has become known as "the lovable losers" through the years. Who needs to win? There's a certain charm to it, after all.
Instead, they said: "Forget charm. This is our year."
The Cubs could've said: "Oh man, what have we done?"
They hired a young upstart named Theo Epstein to run the show as team president, mainly because he led the Boston Red Sox out of an 87-year drought and to their first championship (back in 2004).
But then, the Cubs finished last place in the division for Epstein's first three years with the team. This could have led to all sorts of buyer's remorse.
Instead, they said: "We believe in this guy."
The following year (2015), the Cubs advanced to the National League Championship Series. Epstein re-signed with the club this year with a five-year contract (estimated to be worth up to $50 million).
The Cubs could've said: "This is impossible. Maybe next year."
The team had fallen behind the Indians three games to one in the World Series. Cleveland had home field advantage, along with all the momentum.
Instead, they said: "Nothing's impossible. We play our best with our backs to the wall."
Next thing you know, the Cubs had tied the series.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant could have said: "I'm going to play it safe."
The Cubs were up 4-1 in the fifth inning, after all. Bryant had already run as hard as he could to score the previous inning, barely beating out a hard throw and tag following Addison Russell's sacrifice fly. No need to push it now.
Instead, he said: "I'm gonna leave it all on the field."
After a line drive single from teammate Anthony Rizzo, Bryant hustled and scored, beating another throw to home.
David Ross, the 39-year-old Cubs catcher playing in his final game, could have said: "Man, I'm screwing up this game."
Normally a backup, Ross entered the game in the fifth inning to catch for Cubs pitcher Jon Lester. A series of costly mistakes led to the Indians scoring two runs.
Instead, Ross said nothing. He simply went to work, getting one of those runs back when he smashed a homer of his own into center field the next inning.
The Cubs could have said: "We're going to lose this game."
The team entered the eighth inning only needing six outs to become champions, and holding a solid three run lead. But before you knew it, the Indians had clawed back and tied the game.
The Cubs could have sensed the change in momentum. They could have gotten lost in misery or self-pity.
Their confidence could have evaporated as quickly as their lead.
Instead, they said: "No worries. We've got this."
The Cubs could have said: "Man, everything's working against us."
That's when a downpour halted the game for 15 minutes, giving both teams the chance to soak in the moment.
The Cubs could have let the pressure get to them: the weight of an entire city (and millions of fans around the world) weighing on their shoulders.
Instead, they said: "Almost there, guys."
They followed up with two runs, taking an 8-6 lead.
Then came the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Cubs had that two run lead, but the Indians refused to die: A single by Indians outfielder Rajai Davis drove in a run by teammate Brandon Guyer, making it 8-7.
With the home crowd fiercely cheering the Indians on, and the tying run already on base, the Cubs could have said: "Man, it's slipping away."
Instead, they said: "One more out. Let's do this."
The Cubs got their out.
The rest is for the history books.
But here's the moral of the story, in case you missed it:
You could say any of these things the Cubs could have said.
Because success comes to those who never give up.
If you don't believe me...
Just ask the 2016 World Series champions.