Memories of 2016 NLDS flood back for Cubs in return to San Francisco
Walking into Oracle Park Thursday afternoon, David Ross couldn’t help but reflect back on the last time he was there five years ago.
We all know how the 2016 season ended for the Chicago Cubs, but the road to the World Series began with a clutch comeback against the Giants in San Francisco in the National League Division Series.
The Cubs entered Game 4 of the best-of-5 series on the verge of punching a ticket to the NLCS.
Oct. 11, 2016 didn’t get off to the start the Cubs had envisioned as they trailed 5-2 entering the 9th inning and were staring down a winner-take-all contest in Game 5 with a dominant Johnny Cueto set to take the ball for the Giants.
But the Cubs put together an incredible rally in the top of the 9th inning and wound up celebrating that night at Oracle Park.
Kris Bryant started the rally with a leadoff single, Anthony Rizzo followed with a walk and Ben Zobrist put the Cubs in business with an RBI double.
Willson Contreras was up next and bounced a ball up the middle for a game-tying, 2-run single. Javy Báez put the Cubs up for good with an RBI single later in the inning and the rest was history.
“I haven’t been back here since 2016 and there was a lot of memories flowing walking the hallways, taking pictures with family,” said Ross, who drove in the Cubs’ first 2 runs of Game 4 with a homer and a sacrifice fly. “I was talking to Willson about his base hit to tie the game. We were talking about some cool ‘16 moments and some nostalgia moments, which was fun for me.”
Beyond the walk down memory lane, a return to San Francisco also signified another sense of normalcy for the Cubs.
The team has not traveled to the West Coast in nearly two years, dating back to Sept. 9-12, 2019 when the Cubs took on the Padres in a 4-game series in San Diego. The 2020 schedule was rearranged to a regional slate and the Cubs only traveled to opponents in the NL and AL Central.
So playing teams from outside the Central divisions was a reminder that times are returning to normal and this is no longer a hair-on-fire 60-game season.
When the Atlanta Braves visited Wrigley Field in mid-April, it was an important moment for the team to allow that realization to set in. It’s no coincidence that was the same weekend the Cubs offense broke out and this has been a different team since then.
This week’s trip to the West Coast is another such realization for the Cubs.
“[Wednesday] night on the plane — first long plane ride I’ve had in a really long time,” Ross said. “Coming off of last year, it felt like ‘oh wow, we got a nice long plane ride.’ Everybody was hangin’ out, having a good time.
“Coming out here, being on the West Coast, it starts to feel like real baseball and definitely a lot different than last year, that’s for sure.”