On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day.
The experience was intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using the hashtag #OpeningDayAtHome, fans were able to connect with each other while watching their team's selected game at a set time. For the Cubs, MLB's YouTube channel and Cubs.com streamed Game 7 of the 2016 World Series against the Indians, marking the fourth "Opening Day" broadcast on that platform.
“Opening Day at Home” also was an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
As the Cubs partied at Progressive Field following their Game 7 triumph -- one of the greatest postseason games ever played -- World Series MVP Award winner Ben Zobrist summed up the previous 10 innings best.
"It was like a heavyweight fight, man," Zobrist said after a victory that ended the Cubs' championship drought. "Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out. The Indians never gave up either, and I can't believe we're finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy."
It was Zobrist who delivered the go-ahead run, slashing an RBI double beyond the reach of diving third baseman José Ramírez and into the left-field corner in the 10th inning. That ignited a two-run outburst that followed a now legendary 17-minute rain delay, during which Jason Heyward's speech fired up his teammates for one final push.
Two innings earlier, the Cubs' chances of winning took a major hit when Rajai Davis shook the ballpark with a game-tying two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman that soared just over the 19-foot wall in left field. Davis sprinted around the bases with an arm skyward as Chicago's fan base -- waiting for their first World Series win since 1908 -- looked on stunned.
"I remember half the team out of the dugout, celebrating already before I got to home plate," Davis said after the game. "They're out of the dugout, the fans are going crazy. You could just look at the Cubs and see their heads kind of drop a little bit. You think in that moment, it's like a momentum change.
"But they obviously were able to keep enough composure to score a couple of runs and go up."
It was an all-time classic with plenty of twists and turns.
After the Cubs won Games 5 and 6 to pull the series even, Dexter Fowler opened Game 7 with a home run to center off 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. Throughout October, Kluber had shouldered a heavy load for Cleveland's injury-riddled pitching staff, but he finally faltered in a rare zero-strikeout showing in the Fall Classic finale.
Kluber was chased in the fifth, when Javier Báez led off with a home run. Andrew Miller, who served as a record-setting relief ace for the Indians in October, took over and that set the stage for another entry into Cubs lore. In the sixth inning, backup catcher David Ross -- playing in his final game -- belted a homer off Miller, who crouched on the mound in disbelief.
"I think you could write a book on his season this year," Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said of Ross at the time. "The guy never ceases to amaze me."
The game featured so many incredible events that it is easy to forget some on the list. For instance, consider what happened in the bottom of the fifth. Lester threw a wild pitch that led to two runs for the Indians. Jason Kipnis scored from second on a play that would have been an all-time moment in any other contest.
This past offseason, Kipnis signed with the Cubs.
"I'm trying to look and see how many 2016 things are around this place that I'm just going to be staring at," Kipnis said with a laugh last month. "You know what? It's fun. It was four years ago. The page has been turned a while ago. It was a great memory for that time. A little bittersweet kind of seeing all this stuff, but now, I don't have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song."
All of those plays culminated in Michael Martinez's grounder to third baseman Kris Bryant, who grinned as he fired the baseball across the infield to Anthony Rizzo. The first baseman tucked the ball into his back pocket and thrust his arms in the air, as a celebration more than a century in the making ensured.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and 2019 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.