You'd have to be an idiot to compare the 2004 Red Sox and the 2016 Cubs. They played a different game in different times under different circumstances. Plus, the 2004 Red Sox would have probably killed these Cubs.
Yet I have to in one respect, and it’s over one little silly thought, so forgive me for being a holiday fill-in radio host here.
Which drought-ending moment was greater: “Back to Foulke” or Kris Bryant charging the ball?
If you didn’t see the final out of Game 7, watch it now. With the Cubs holding a one-run lead and the winning run at the plate for Cleveland in the bottom of the 10th, Michael Martinez hit a soft grounder that Bryant had to charge like hell. The stakes were high, the field was wet and the play was a difficult one, so much so that neither Joe Buck nor Cubs radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes were certain enough in the outcome to give much more than a routine call of the play.
Yet Bryant, as replays showed, had a massive grin on his face as he frantically charged the ball and threw to first. For a franchise that had suffered for well over 100 years, a 24-year-old smiling kid put its devastation to rest. That’s epic.
So too, of course, is Buck’s iconic call of Edgar Renteria’s groundout to Keith Foulke to end the ’04 Series. There’s no taking away from that, or the incredible postseason that preceded it.
But compare the 2004 World Series and the 2016 World Series, and their backgrounds.
The Red Sox and Cubs both struggled for decades in different ways. The Red Sox came close and fell apart seemingly every which way over the years. The Cubs were so bad (and often just irrelevant) that they had to make up multiple curses to keep themselves entertained. Cubs fans struggled longer, but pound-for-pound nobody took a worse beating than Sox fans.
And they won their titles in different ways. The 2004 World Series was a party. Nothing else. The Red Sox’ World Series actually came in the ALCS with their historic comeback over their most hated rival. The four games against the Cardinals were, essentially, a celebration.
The Cubs, on the other hand, stomped their way through the National League before needing a major comeback of their own to win the 2016 World Series.
When it came down to them actually winning -- actually clinching, actually ending their respective droughts -- you’re out of your mind if you think the Cubs’ victory wasn’t better.
The Red Sox' triumph a four-game sweep that was close for like an hour in Game 1. The Red Sox took the lead in the first inning of all four games against the Cardinals and never looked back in three of them. They never had to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
So much of being a Red Sox fan prior to that was the expectation of doom. When things went right, there was the expectation that they’d go wrong. In the 2004 World Series, the place with the greatest opportunity for heartache, that feeling was non-existent. That’s how incredibly right things went.
Do you remember worrying? No, you remember laughing. (To be fair, Jeff Suppan’s baserunning warranted it). The 2004 postseason was as nerve-wracking an experience a Red Sox fan could have had, but it was all in the ALCS. The World Series was a cakewalk.
Now look at the Cubs and their sad, sad existence. It wasn’t like they had championship-caliber teams that kept coming up short. You heard a million times that they hadn’t been to the World Series since 1945, but do you know how many times they were in the NLCS until this season? Three. Freaking three. And that's over 46 years, since the LCS was instituted in 1969. Not nice. So when they got past the Giants and the Dodgers to get to the Series, the fans' emotions were probably divided in half: Fear of blowing it on one hand, elation at being there on the other.
And once they got there it was an actual struggle despite the Cubs being, what, a gazillion times better than the Indians?
They lost three of the first four games. They battled back to force Game 7. They blew a four-run lead in the finale and had to go to extra innings.
After all that, there's no way their eventual victory wasn't more thrilling than a four-game undressing of an overmatched opponent.
So, "Back to Foulke" or the grinning kid?
Give me the kid.