Baseball been berry, berry good to me.
– Chico Escuela
Former Chicago Cubs All-Star
The World Series happens every single year as it has (almost) always since 1903. The Fall Classic begins again tomorrow, Tuesday, October 25th at 8:08pm in Cleveland, Ohio. Nothing out of the ordinary here – wait, Cleveland? As in the Indians are in? Ooh buddy, you better believe they are. Despite a hash of injuries and general Cleveland-ish bumps in the road throughout the season, the Tribe have managed to not only make it back to the big dance, but they are hosting the affair thanks to the silly home-field advantage prize given to the league that wins the All-Star Game. Hey, they’ve never gotten to host Game 1 of the World Series ever, so I’d say they’ve earned it. Not to mention they haven’t won the big prize of America’s pastime since 1948. It truly is impressive that in the same year the Cavaliers broke the Cleveland Curse of championship droughts, their baseball team just may deliver a double-whammy for its fans. Surely everyone in America will be rooting for the team that has gone 68 years without winning the World Series, right? I mean, there is only one other team in Major League Baseball that has gone longer without a Series win, but by now the – holy fuck the Cubs are in too. What is the temperature in Hell right now? I’m guessing it’s getting close to freezing because tomorrow the Cleveland Indians will play the Chicago Cubs in the Well-One-Of-These-Cities-Has-Got-To-Stop-Whining World Series.
That’s right, it’s not another series with Red Sox or the Yankees facing off against the Cardinals or the Giants. This year, we get a guarantee that either the Cubs or Indians will walk away winners of baseball’s highest honor. This is awesome! This is the matchup everyone jokes about at the beginning of the season, and it finally came true! And the assurance that one of them will finally win is so satisfying, despite the fact that neither are my team. Make no mistake, I am all Indians in this one – you don’t see a picture of Wrigley up top, do you? It’s nothing against the Cubs; I quite like them and wish them well every year. I only actively hate three teams on a consistent basis: the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the White Sox. Cubs fans will be totally in agreement with me on the last one, and probably on the other two as well. New York and Boston have huge fan followings, but they’ve also won plenty of World Series (27 and 8 respectively) thanks to plenty of spending money. the White Sox I dislike as they are division opponents of my favorite major league team, the Detroit Tigers. Now here’s where things get tricky. I don’t despise the other American League Central foes of the Motor City Cats as much as I do the South-side squad of Chicago. Kansas City has been so much of a non-factor over my lifetime that I was ecstatic when they won it all last year. Cleveland, though more of a rival of Detroit that Chicago, has always been my number two team. Weird, I know, but growing up in northwest Ohio in close proximity to both Detroit and Cleveland allowed me to closely follow both cities’ franchises and I rooted for both. I have always favored Detroit more though, so I was never greatly conflicted when the two cities met in any sport. Tigers over Indians, Pistons over Cavaliers, and the Red Wings over, well, nobody as Columbus got the eventual Ohio hockey team. No, I didn’t forget anything. What football teams? The Lions and Browns? What am I, a sadist? I like the 49ers and am much more into college football than anything else sports wise. The long and short of it is, I am on the Indians side thanks to growing up kind of cheering for them, and living in Cleveland for five years. The Tribe made their last deep playoff run during my freshman year of college and even though like this year, they beat up on my Tigers to get into the playoffs, I was pulsing with the city’s energy in anticipation of a potential championship. The proverbial paperclip was pulled out of the socket for Cleveland until 2013 when the Indians hosted the first Wild Card playoff game in a losing effort to the Tampa Bay David Prices. This year though they are back and better than ever… yet so are the Cubs.
Chicago knows the Indians playoff pain and World Series drought because it is the only other team to exceed it. Where the Indians have gone 68 years without a Series title, the Cubs have gone 108 years. That’s right, 40 years longer! They last won the World Series in 1908! Yeah, a 19-O year! Not 19-teen something, or 19-twentysomething, 19-oh something! We’ve all forgotten the Red Sox Series drought because they’ve won three in this century, but they didn’t have to wait over an actual century to win.
There are teams that have formed more recently than the Cubs and Indians have won World Series, and many of those have won at least one World Series. 14 teams joined the American or National League over a decade after the Indians last win in 1948, and six of them have won the World Series. At least every team has played in the Series except the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) who are both expansion teams, and all of those have played in the Series more recently than 1979. That team that played in 1979 was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the World Series that year, giving them the third longest drought for a team that has won a World Series. Child’s play in terms of the waiting game the Cubs and Indians have had. And the Indians’ win in 1948 that I keep bringing up as a reference is actually three years more recent than the Cubs last World Series appearance in 1945. Wow.
The most exciting thing about this year’s inevitably historic World Series beside the fact that one of these teams will win, is that both of these teams are really good. It should go without saying that most teams that reach the World Series are pretty skilled in their sport, but these two have proven to be the best in their leagues when it counts. The Cubs have the best record in baseball this year with 103 wins and only 58 losses (in any other sport “only 58 losses” sounds ridiculous). Their pitching has been solid, but perhaps not as surprisingly so as the Indians rotation has been. The Tribe boast a grand pitching lineup of their own, and the mastermind Terry Francona as manager. Joe Maddon is no slouch either for the Cubs, and the ghost of Harry Caray will undoubtedly be rustling through the ivy at Wrigley. But first, we get to see what festivities will unfold at Jacob’s -er, Progressive Field when ace Corey Kluber takes the mound.
The fact that it has been a combined 176 years of World Series championship drought for these two teams is the dominating headline for obvious reasons, and it will continue to be such for obvious reasons. Someone is going to be overjoyed beyond belief at the conclusion of this series. The runner-up, well… there’s always next year.
Thanks for reading. Please send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Step back up to the plate here next week for the State of the Season recap and some Halloween treats.