World Series man­agers down­play epic droughts

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

World Series man­agers sent a clear mes­sage to their play­ers Mon­day-pay no at­ten­tion to the his­toric title droughts that have cre­ated such a tremen­dous buzz around your games.

The Chicago Cubs, who have not won a title since 1908 in the long­est cham­pi­onship fu­til­ity streak in Amer­i­can sports his­tory, worked out on the eve of the opener of the 112th World Series against the Cleveland In­di­ans, whose title drought since 1948 is the sec­ond-long­est in Ma­jor League Base­ball an­nals.

“I think we all have a tremen­dous amount of re­spect for his­tory and what has hap­pened be­fore us or not hap­pened be­fore us, Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don said. “But you go in that room right now, they are very young. Re­ally not im­pacted by a lot of the lore.”

The Cubs fea­ture five starters who are 24 or younger, in­clud­ing 22-year-old short­stop Ad­di­son Rus­sell. Not reach­ing the World Series since 1945 is an­cient his­tory to him and his team­mates even as it rep­re­sents a life­time’s wait for many of their de­voted sup­port­ers. “We are im­pacted by our city and our fans and the peo­ple that at­tend our games and the con­ver­sa­tions that we have,” Mad­don said. “But I don’t think when there’s a ground­ball hit to Ad­die, he’s go­ing to be wor­ried about stuff like that.

“They’re go­ing to be in the mo­ment. That’s what we’ve done and that’s all I preach. Hope­fully they’ll be able to get this done and at that point you can re­ally re­flect on ev­ery­thing, in­ter­act with folks and re­ally try to get down to the root of all of this. “But in the mean­time, man, I re­ally an­tic­i­pate and ex­pect our guys to stay right in the mo­ment.”

It’s much the same for In­di­ans man­ager Terry Fran­cona, who in 2004 man­aged the Bos­ton Red Sox to their first World Series crown since 1918.

He can feel the ex­cite­ment in Cleveland fans, who had not cel­e­brated a cham­pion in any sport since the 1964 NFL Browns un­til the Cava­liers won the NBA crown in June. He knows the In­di­ans have not been to the World Series since 1997. But Fran­cona knows such reflections are best done af­ter the task at hand is fin­ished.

“I just think if you look too far back, you look too far for­ward, you miss what’s right in front of you,” Fran­cona said.

“These play­ers have earned the right to try and see if we can beat the Cubs, and that’s go­ing to be a tall enough task. But I don’t think we need to go back and con­cern our­selves with 40, 50, 60 years ago.”

But even he couldn’t re­sist ac­knowl­edg­ing the ex­cite­ment, adding, “Now, if you win, it makes for a cool story.” The In­di­ans will play the World Series opener at home for the first time ever tonight while across the street, the Cava­liers will raise a cham­pi­onship ban­ner in their sea­son opener.

“This is go­ing to be the num­ber one place to be for sports,” In­di­ans sec­ond base­man Ja­son Kip­nis said. “What a spe­cial day for a city to do that.”

THEY CAN’T BOTH LOSE

The Cubs, who won a ma­jor league-best 103 games this sea­son, send left-han­der Jon Lester to the mound in game one against right-handed pitcher Corey Klu­ber for Cleveland. Chicago is fa­vored and de­spitre Mad­don’s talk about fo­cus on the mo­ment, the Cubs can feel the hopes and dreams of long-suf­fer­ing Cubs fans world­wide rest­ing on their shoul­ders.

“We know how much it means to ev­ery­one,” Cubs first base­man An­thony Rizzo said. “But at the end of the day, we have to go out and play.” Lester, who won World Series ti­tles with Bos­ton in 2007 and 2013, is en­joy­ing the Cubs’ date with des­tiny.

“It’s awe­some, es­pe­cially to be a part of this or­ga­ni­za­tion with all the his­tory and all that fun stuff,” Lester said. “We don’t look ahead of any­thing. We stay where we’re at. And we’ll en­joy this for the next how­ever many days and see where we’re at the at the end. “One of us has to win, right?” —AFP

CLEVELAND: Mem­bers of the Chicago Cubs warm up dur­ing a team prac­tice for base­ball’s up­com­ing World Series against the Cleveland In­di­ans on Mon­day in Cleveland. —AP

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