By Manny Randhawa
"Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again."
The great sportswriter Red Smith wrote those words 65 years ago, following one of the most iconic moments in baseball history: "the Shot Heard 'Round the World." Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants lined a ninth-inning, pennant-winning home run over the left-field wall at the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, completing a miraculous climb in the standings to surpass the Brooklyn Dodgers and reach the World Series.
On that day, the Chicago Cubs' championship drought was just short of 43 years long. If Smith, who died in 1982, had been alive to witness the Cubs' victory in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night against the Indians, what would he have written about the franchise's first championship in 108 years?
Consider the enormity of what this Cubs team accomplished, something 107 Cubs teams before it couldn't. For Cubs fans, both living and no longer with us, this was the "inexpressibly fantastic" experience they sought to one day bask in. That day has come, and on Friday in Chicago, five million people -- nearly double the city's population -- were reportedly on hand to celebrate the Cubs' long-awaited title.
But with the momentous event that transpired Wednesday night in Cleveland, has baseball actually lost something?
Undeniably, the year 1908 doesn't retain the same level of significance for the Cubs fan, nor, for that matter, the baseball fan. There is no way for the 1908 Cubs to regain that lost prestige of being the last Cubs team to win a World Series. But now that the Cubs have finally ended the historic drought, is another chapter of baseball history being relegated to the proverbial attic of our consciousness? Will it recede from memory until it is no more than a vestige of a bygone era, to be found in a Baseball Reference search?
Baseball, more than any other sport, is steeped in history and tradition. Some of that tradition is being challenged in today's game, and that's a good thing -- advanced metrics and the rise of new statistical analysis to gain advantage on the field are revolutionary developments. But the history of the game -- including chapters like 1908 -- shouldn't be diminished by the end of championship droughts in unforgettable Fall Classics like the one we just witnessed.
History is firmly embedded in baseball's nucleus. It connects Anthony Rizzo with Frank Chance, Chicago's first baseman in 1908. It connects Kris Bryant with Harry Steinfeldt, who played third for that championship club. If we forget shortstop Joe Tinker, or second baseman Johnny Evers, who's to say Addison Russell and Javier Baez won't be forgotten 108 years from now?
If you think back on Jake Arrieta's nasty slider one day when you tell your grandchildren about the Cubs finally winning the World Series in 2016, don't forget to tell them about Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown's filthy curveball, which Ty Cobb said was the most devastating pitch he'd ever seen, and helped Brown lead the Cubs to titles in 1907 and '08.
When you think of Joe Maddon guiding the Cubs to a World Series win in his second season as the club's manager, also think of Chance, who in his second full season as player/manager of the Cubs in 1907, brought home the franchise's first-ever championship.
If we start to forget the 1908 Cubs because the 2016 Cubs are champs, does that mean we've also forgotten the 1954 New York Giants because the San Francisco Giants have won three titles since 2010? What of Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch in that season's World Series against the Indians?
Have we forgotten the 1985 Royals because 30 years later, the Royals won it all in 2015? Does anyone think about the 1918 Red Sox anymore since Boston won its long-awaited championship in 2004? About how Babe Ruth legged out as many triples (11) as he hit home runs that season?
What about the 1917 White Sox, the last team in franchise history to win a World Series before the 2005 club? About how they had a pitcher in Eddie Cicotte who tossed 346 2/3 innings and posted a 1.53 ERA?
Take history out of baseball, and it's not baseball. Now that the Cubs are champions again, remember their predecessors in that department. Maybe 108 years from now, baseball fans who come after us will remember the 2016 Cubs.
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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com and a contributor to Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @MannyRsports.