They saved the best for last.Game 7 of the 112th World Series between the Cubs and Indians was voted Best Trending Topic of the entire 2016 Major League Baseball season in the Esurance MLB Awards that were announced on Friday, and it was so good that Hall of Fame pitcher
They saved the best for last.
Game 7 of the 112th World Series between the Cubs and Indians was voted Best Trending Topic of the entire 2016 Major League Baseball season in the Esurance MLB Awards that were announced on Friday, and it was so good that Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz -- an expert on these matters -- said he is "still pinching myself."
Smoltz, whose duel with Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series is remembered as one of the top all-time postseason thrillers, was in the FOX broadcast booth with Joe Buck, calling his first Fall Classic amid soaring ratings and profound suspense.
"To have it be played out with two teams that were desperately trying to end a long drought, and to have it play out and go seven games, all I know is, I had a blast," Smoltz said. "I hope it was received that way, because for me, I've loved every moment of every World Series I've ever played in. Now as a broadcaster, [I'm] giving a point of view and a reference to what it's like, trying to give the viewer just a little bit of an insight into the moments of tension and drama that all comes into what I call a classic forum for winning and crowning a championship."
The Twitterverse concurred. So did the rest of social media. This Game 7 was especially gripping simply because of the combined 176-year wait of those two teams to finally celebrate a title. A little over a couple weeks later, it is still mind-blowing to think that there was champagne on ice inside Progressive Field, and MLB and clubhouse officials had to wait until the very end to figure out which team finally got to spray it at last.
Of course, it was the Cubs who enjoyed that scene, thanks to their 8-7 victory over the Tribe in the wee hours of Nov. 3, in front of a crowd that was a virtual 50/50 split among Indians and Cubs fans. It was the Cubs' first world championship since 1908.
It happened after Dexter Fowler's leadoff home run; after the Cubs built a 5-1 lead and knocked out ace Corey Kluber; after 39-year-old David Ross homered in his final swing as a Major Leaguer; after Jon Lester's wild pitch and the Cleveland comeback; after Rajai Davis hit his two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the eighth to tie it and eventually force extra innings; after the tarp went on the field; after Ben Zobrist's double in the top of the 10th put Chicago ahead on his way to the World Series MVP Award; and after Kris Bryant smiled and threw to Anthony Rizzo for a 5-3 putout to start the ultimate bash.
To win Best Trending Topic, Game 7 had to beat out these other two finalists that both took place at Petco Park in San Diego: Bartolo Colon's epic home run for the Mets on May 7, and Giancarlo Stanton's 61-longball performance to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. The Cubs also had another nominee among the five overall candidates -- their two dazzling days in July (25th and 31st) when they made headlines on and off the field. The Yankees' summer shakeup was the other nominee, as they overhauled their roster yet remained in the pennant race.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American League and National League from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Individual awards went to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer.
Winners were also recognized for the year's best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Regular-Season Moment, Postseason Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Fan Catch, Broadcast Call, Player-Fan Interaction and Trending Topic.
Voting began on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. ET at MLB.com/awards, one hour after the inaugural Esurance MLB Fans of the Year winners were announced.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.