Preview: World Series offers hope to the desperate
THE 112th World Series, Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship final between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians ,opens today (tomorrow at 6:38am local time). Here’s what you need to know.
Title droughts The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908. That’s the longest championship drought of any team in North American sports history. They have not played in the World Series since 1945. The Cleveland Indians have not won the World Series since 1948, the second-longest drought in baseball and third overall, behind the Cubs and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, who last won a title in 1947 when they were based in Chicago.
Epstein the Curse-buster Some blame the Cubs’ drought on the “Curse of the Billy Goat”, which the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern supposedly put on the Cubs after he and his pet goat were ejected from the 1945 World Series because fans complained about the animal’s odour.
The Cubs’ president of baseball operations is Theo Epstein, who in 2002 became the youngest general manager in Major League Baseball history when hired by the Boston Red Sox at age 28. He resigned in 2011 to join the Cubs. In 2004, the Red Sox team Epstein built won its first World Series title in 86 years, finally ending what had been dubbed “The Curse of the Bambino”.
In early 1920, the legendary Babe Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the arch-rival New York Yankees, where “the Bambino” became an epic figure in US sports lore. Over the first 84 seasons after the Ruth deal, the Red Sox lost all four of their trips to the World Series while the Yankees won 26 of their 27 World Series titles. Merkle’s Boner The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, but they almost never got the chance to play in that year’s championship showdown, needing the help of a blunder known in baseball lore as “Merkle’s Boner”. The visiting Cubs and thenNew York Giants were level 1-1 in the ninth inning when Giants rookie Fred Merkle singled to put the potential winning run on third base. Al Bridwell singled to drive in what appeared to be the winning run as spectators raced onto the field to celebrate. In the chaos, Merkle – the youngest player in the National League at 19 and making his first major league start – did not touch second base. The Cubs retrieved the ball and touched it to second base. Umpires ruled Merkle out and the run did not count. The field could not be cleared and darkness fell on what was declared a 1-1 draw, costing the Giants a victory. The Cubs and Giants finished deadlocked for the National League crown and replayed the draw to decide who went to the World Series. The Cubs beat the Giants 4-2 and then beat Detroit for their most recent World Series crown.
Cubs lose on 10-run rally In 1929, the Cubs played the first World Series games at their current home, Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914 as Weeghman Park. It became Wrigley Field in 1927. The Cubs played the then-Philadelphia Athletics in the 1929 World Series and trailed 2-1 in the best-of-seven matchup entering game four on the road. Chicago took an 8-0 lead in the seventh inning and were only nine outs from pulling level in the series. But the Athletics scored 10 runs in the seventh inning, won the game 10-8 and captured the title by winning game five two days later. The fightback from an eight-run deficit remains the greatest comeback in Major League Baseball playoff history. Two titles in four months? Cleveland sports teams had gone 52 years without a championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns won the NFL title until LeBron James led the greatest rally in NBA Finals history and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA crown last June. Now the Cleveland Indians can win their first Major League Baseball title since 1948 by extending the misery of the Chicago Cubs. It would be only the third NBA-MLB title double by the same city in the same year, following baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the NBA Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 and the Lakers and Anaheim-based Los Angeles Angels in 2002. It also would be the second title double in Cleveland history after the 1948 Indians and Browns, who were champions of the All-America Football Conference before joining the NFL for the 1950 season. –
Dorothy Farrell, 90, poses with a t-shirt after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series.
LeBron James (right) led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first title earlier this year, ending the city’s 50-year stretch without a title. The Indians have a chance to add to the parade.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry right) and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (left) pose for photographs during the Golden State Warriors annual media day at the Warriors practice facility in Oakland, California, USA on September 26.
Theo Epstein (right), the current Cubs’ president, has a history of curse-busting: in 2004, he led the Boston Red Sox to their first title in 86 years.