It’s almost a perfect scene. Sure, there were no “Cinderella” teams to make it to this year’s World Series. But the last two team’s standing this year aren’t only the best two teams from both leagues, but are maybe the two teams with the most to prove.
The Chicago Cubs won back-to-back championships in 1907 and 1908, but have not won a World Series since. The last time they even appeared in the World Series was 1945. They came five outs away in 2003 versus the Florida Marlins, but could not hold a 3-0 game lead nor a 3-2 series lead. (Google, “Steve Bartman” if you want more information about that story).
The Cleveland Indians have won two championships in franchise history, in 1920 and 1948. Cleveland has had more success in making the World Series, having last made it in 1997. Still, these are two teams, cities and fan bases that are longing for a championship. Only one can win, however; so, who will it be?
As I write this, the Cubs are just two hours removed from tying up the Series at one win a piece after a brilliant outing by reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Arrieta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and was helped out by a Chicago offense led by Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber.
Another 2015 Cy Young winner shined in Game 1, along with a little known catcher. Arrieta’s American League counterpart last season, the Indians’ Corey Kluber, was dominant in eight shutout innings. The Cleveland offense, led by Roberto Perez (two home runs and four RBIs), got after Chicago’s Jon Lester in their eventual 6-0 victory.
It is interesting that Schwarber is even playing in the Series. He was injured early in the season while playing in the outfield, and had few minor league appearances before being used as the designated hitter for Joe Maddon in the American League ballpark. (Sidenote: Schwarber became first position player to record a hit in the World Series after not registering a hit in the regular season preceding it).
Let me get this out of the way now to save suspense: THE CUBS WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES! I apologize to the true Cleveland fans – you have a very good team. (I do not apologize to the Cleveland bandwagoners, because you will be sporting Chicago hats next year). But where do you start with Chicago? Is it their rotation that is so deep that the MLB’s ERA leader, Liam Hendricks (2.13), is the Game 3 starter? Lester was second with an ERA of 2.44. Although he didn’t do great in Game 1, Lester is also a very good postseason pitcher – with a mediocre 8-7 record, but an above average 2.60 ERA in 20 playoff starts.
Former Yankee Aroldis Chapman and former Mariner Mike Montgomery were both acquired midseason and have done an excellent job in the bullpen. And let’s not forget their offense; led by Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler, Rizzo, Zobrist and now Schwarber. The bonus is that they are managed by one of the best in the game, Maddon.
I am taking nothing away from Cleveland. I love Jason Kipnis, Mike Napoli and Francisco Lindor. Another former Yankee, Andrew Miller, mans down their bullpen. And Kluber and Trevor Bauer are a very good 1-2 punch. But the Chicago pitching, to me, is too deep. The Cubs will prevail in six games. Take a deep breath, avid Chicago fans – this team is the real deal.