Cubs, In­di­ans to meet in his­toric World Se­ries

Cubs seek­ing first cham­pi­onship since 1908, while In­di­ans set sights on first crown since 1948 Cubs: Bryant, Baez and other young­sters crit­i­cal in ti­tle chase for Na­tional League cham­pi­ons

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Selig­man

The Cubs and In­di­ans are poised to square off in the opener of a his­toric World Se­ries tonight.

CHICAGO >> Kris Bryant says he gets chills ev­ery time the fans at Wrigley Field shower him with “MVP!” chants.

The 24-year-old just doesn’t show it — a com­mon trait among his young team­mates. If any­thing can over­whelm these kid Cub­bies, they haven’t faced it yet.

Bryant was one of five play­ers 24 or younger in the start­ing lineup for the Cubs dur­ing Game 6 of the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, and that group is show­ing ma­tu­rity be­yond its years. Keep this up, and they could give Chicago a party gen­er­a­tions in the making.

Bryant has al­ready es­tab­lished him­self as one of the game’s top power hit­ters. Javier Baez (23 years old) made one spec­tac­u­lar play af­ter an­other in the in­field while win­ning NLCS co-MVP. Ad­di­son Rus­sell (22) is an All-Star short­stop with power and Gold Glove as­pi­ra­tions.

Catcher Will­son Con­tr­eras (24) and out­fielder Al­bert Almora Jr. (22) are rook­ies get­ting at-bats with

a heavy World Se­ries fa­vorite.

And so the Cubs are seek­ing their first cham­pi­onship since 1908 fu­eled by play­ers too young to re­mem­ber the first time a Clin­ton vied for the U.S. pres­i­dency.

Chicago beat the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in the NLCS for its first pen­nant since 1945, and now faces the Cleve­land In­di­ans in the World Se­ries with a chance to end the sport’s long­est ti­tle drought.

If Chicago’s young­sters feel any jit­ters be­fore Game 1 tonight in Cleve­land, don’t ex­pect to see them.

“Our young play­ers are play­ing like they’re 32-year-old vet­er­ans,” 2015 NL Cy Young Award win­ner Jake Ar­ri­eta said. “It’s just fun to watch. I get to play one out of ev­ery five days, but to really see the way our guys go about tak­ing care of busi­ness makes me really ap­pre­ci­ate the guys I’m able to play with.”

Bryant and the other bur­geon­ing Cubs helped Chicago lead the ma­jors with 103 wins in the reg­u­lar sea­son, and it’s been more of the same in Oc­to­ber.

Af­ter pulling out 14 vic­to­ries in their final at-bat dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, the Cubs did it twice against San Fran­cisco in the NL Divi­sion Se­ries, then ral­lied from a 2-1 se­ries deficit to beat the Dodgers.

Vet­er­ans like Jon Lester have done their part, but the younger play­ers have had plenty of piv­otal mo­ments, too.

None more so than Baez, a break­out star this post­sea­son with his light­ning-quick tags and preter­nat­u­ral de­ci­sion making in the field.

He shared NLCS MVP hon­ors with Lester af­ter lead­ing the Cubs to their 17th pen­nant and is bat­ting .342 this post­sea­son. He hit a win­ning homer off Johnny Cueto in Game 1 of the NLDS against San Fran­cisco, then had a goa­head sin­gle in the se­ries-clinch­ing vic­tory in Game 4. He had four dou­bles and five RBIs in the NLCS, too.

Baez’s big­gest mo­ments, though, mostly came out­side the bat­ter’s box. He stole home dur­ing Chicago’s win in Game 1 of the NLCS, turned a heads-up dou­ble play by let­ting a soft liner bounce in front of him with two on in Game 2, and made a fan­tas­tic bare­handed scoop to rob Adrian Gon­za­lez of a hit in Game 5.

MARK J. TERRILL — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The stel­lar play from Javier Baez has Cubs seek­ing their first World Se­ries cham­pi­onship since 1908.

FRANK GUNN — THE CANA­DIAN PRESS VIA AP

Re­liever An­drew Miller has been nearly un­hit­table this post­sea­son as In­di­ans eye first ti­tle since 1948.

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