Remarkable resilience the key as Cubs end tortuous World Series wait

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The despair on the faces of the Chicago Cubs fans lost in a sea of jubilant Cleveland Indians supporters spoke a thousand words.

Rajai Davis had just smacked a line drive home run to left field to erase Chicago's 6-4 lead and tie things up in the bottom of the eighth inning in game seven.

With that swing, those from the north side of Chicago saw their hopes of ending a lifetime of hurt and a 108-year wait for a World Series title hang in the balance.

But, in a wild game that featured a rain delay prior to extra innings and put the decisions of manager of Joe Maddon under severe scrutiny, the Cubs did what they have done throughout this postseason, bounced back, and in doing so finally ended the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Indeed, when the dust settles on an incredible season, the Cubs heroes of 2016 will be remembered not for the dominance that saw them post the best regular-season record in baseball and have seven players selected to the National League All-Star team, but for their resilience.

The Cubs have been challenged and tested throughout this postseason, and each time the best team in baseball answered the bell.

From clubbing four runs in the ninth inning to rip the momentum from a seemingly surging San Francisco Giants team and advance from the Division Series, to hitting 23 runs in three games to overturn a 2-1 deficit in the National League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs have exemplified fighting spirit.

The toughest examination fittingly came in a bewitching final act, after the Cubs had already staved off elimination to level the series from 3-1 down against an Indians team looking to end their own 68-year wait for World Series glory and one that lost just one game in swatting aside the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

Chicago had at one point led by four runs having started game seven facing an All-Star pitcher in Corey Kluber who had already recorded two wins against them in the series.

But, even after catcher David Ross had atoned for his part in giving up two runs in the fifth inning on a wild pitch from Jon Lester - brought on for a pitcher in Kyle Hendricks who had looked to be cruising - by hammering a home run to center field, the baseball gods had more agony in store for the Cubs, and Maddon in particular.

Maddon paid the price for using Aroldis Chapman a night earlier in game six with the Cubs comfortably ahead as his fabled relief pitcher failed to deliver and Davis improbably knotted things up.

An instruction to have Javy Baez bunt with Jason Heyward at third base in the top of the ninth backfired, Baez fouling and striking out, and the inclement weather threatened to delay North American sports' longest and most famous title drought even further.

However, the Cubs had one last display of grit, which arrived in the form of Ben Zobrist's 10th-inning go-ahead double and Miguel Montero's single to give Chicago a two-run gap that could not be clawed back despite the best efforts of Davis.

The Cubs' resilience won the day, and their long-suffering fans will need plenty of the same to recover from what will sure be elongated and rapturous celebrations in Wrigleyville.