Next year here: Lovable losers Cubs, Indians meet fall classic
CLEVELAND >> The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, Dewey led Truman in the polls. The Chicago Cubs’ last title was 13 days after the first Ford Model T car was completed.
Lovable losers known for decades of defeat meet in this year’s championship, a combined 174 seasons of futility facing off starting Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland’s last title was in 1948, when 16 teams from the East Coast to St. Louis competed in a just-integrated sport. The Cubs are trying to win for the first time since 1908 , a dead ball-era matchup at a time home runs were rarities along with telephones.
No player is alive from the last championship Cubs or even the last to make a Series appearance — Tuesday marks the 25,948th day since the Cubs’ Game 7 loss to Detroit in 1945. One player remains from the 1948 Indians, 95-year-old Eddie Robinson.
“It seems like it’s just forever,” Robinson said Monday from his home in Fort Worth, Texas. “When we got home from Boston, there was a monumental parade. It just looked like everybody in Cleveland came out on Euclid Avenue.”
One team’s fans will let loose with the celebration of a lifetime. But while history weighs on the supporters, Cubs manager Joe Maddon focuses his players with a now-centered battle cry of “Win the Inning!”
“Air conditioning is popular right now. So is color TV,” he said. “You’ve just got to change with the times.”
Both teams worked out under cloudy skies as the new 59-by-221-foot scoreboard behind the left-field seats — the largest in the major leagues — trumpeted the Sisyphean matchup. While the Cubs play in Wrigley Field, the 102-yearold brick-and-ivy jewel on Chicago’s North Side, the Indians are in a 22-year-old throwbackstyle ballpark originally called Jacobs Field.
Led by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs led the major leagues with 103 wins during the regular season, then beat San Francisco and Los Angeles in the playoffs. But since the playoffs expanded in 1995, only four teams with the best regular-season record won the title: the 1998 and 2009 New York Yankees, and the 2007 and 2013 Boston Red Sox.
“I promise you, our guys are going to be in the present tense,” Maddon said. “I think we all have a tremendous amount of respect for history and what’s happened before us or not happened before us. But, you know, you go in that room right now, they’re very young. Really not impacted by a lot of the lore.”