World Series Title Drought Will End For One Club
By John Ventola
“Sure as God made green apples, someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in a World Series.”
Those words were spoken by the Cubs’ late renowned sportscaster Harry Carey as he
concluded the broadcast of the last game of the 1991 season. It took 25 years to fulfill Carey’s prediction, but the Cubbies are finally in a World Series, the franchise’s first in 71 years. Carey would be pleased. A fan named Steve Bartman must be ecstatic.
Carey’s old refrain “Cubs win, Cubs win” has been often mimicked, but Manager Joe Maddon’s talented Cubs have had the baseball world saying just that on a more consistent basis over the past two seasons. The well-balanced club gave notice of its emergence last year when it finished just three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League’s Central Division. This season the Cubs were 17-5 in April and ran away with the division, topping the Cards by 17-1/2 games.
Chicago has not won a World Series since 1908 while the Tribe’s last WS championship was in 1948. One thing is certain; the city of the winning team will have a helluva parade!
While the Cubs went to their last World Series in 1945, the Indians did compete in 1954, 1995, and 1997. In fact, this blogger became a huge Cleveland fan when Willie Mays
made his famous over-the shoulder catch of a long drive by Vic Wertz in the first game of the ’54 series. The New York Giants won easily that year, but the Indians earned the loyalty and attention of a six-year-old that fall.
Guess I was drawn to underdogs as the Tribe, and my favorite player Rocky Colavito, would annually finish runner-up to the dominant New York Yankees as I started to participate in kid leagues. I can vividly remember how upset I was when then General Manger Frank Laine traded Colavito (the American League’s HR champion for the league’s batting average champion, Detroit’s Harvey Kuehn in 1960. Surely made no sense to a 12-year-old in training as a baseball junkie. Proud to admit that I learned to add, subtract, multiply, and divide by working out baseball batting and earned run averages.
Fans must remember, there were only sixteen major league teams during those years, eight in each league. Cleveland had some pretty decent teams in the. late ‘50s, but the Yankees dynasty was going full tilt during that era. Chicago, the Cubs had individual stars, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, but more times than not finished at, or near, the bottom of the National League.
Bartman, well, he became the most hated fan in Chicago when he reached out and
interfered with a foul ball to prevent an easy catch of a foul ball that would have s basically put the Cubs in the 2003 World Series.
Only five outs from elimination, the Florida Marlins used Bartman’s interference to stay alive and rally to win game six of the NL playoffs. The Marlins’ victory the next day in game seven lengthened the Cubs time without a pennant to 58 years.
The unfortunate “Bartman incident” has forced a person into a life of a hermit. That is a sad commentary on the fan-aticism that sometimes creeps into sports.
The 2016 World Series begins today in Cleveland. Both teams bring unusual long-time championship droughts to the Fall Classic, and that will be the “talk” of the Series. This lifelong baseball fan will join in that discussion. but I will also be concentrating on the terrific young talent on the field.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona (yep, his dad Tito was an Indians’ star during my childhood) and Theo Epstein, Chicago’s President of Baseball Operations, know a lot
about breaking long-time championship droughts. Epstein and Francona were instrumental in breaking the 86-year World Series championship drought of the Boston Red Sox when Epstein was the team’s General Manager and Francona was the BoSox skipper in 2004. The team won an additional championship in 2007.
Francona has used a steady hand in managing a club with excellent pitching (Corey Kluber) and young infield talent (Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis). Hired four years ago by the Indians after sitting out the 2012 season, he has managed in the majors for 16 years (four with the Phillies, eight with Boston, four with Cleveland).
Epstein, who became the youngest GM in major league history when he was hired by Boston in 2002 at age 28, is a master at player evaluation and player trades. Since joining the Cubs under a five-year contract in October, 2011, (a season when the Cubs lost 101 games) 140 players have been on the Cubs roster, he has made 37 trades, been responsible for 80 player signings, and 85 departures.
In five years under Epstein’s guidance the Cubs have gone from winning 61 games in 2011 to 103 victories in 2016.
Only first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Travis Wood were on the Cubs roster in 2012. Since then Epstein has acquired pitcher Jake Arrieta from Baltimore, shortstop
Addison Russell from Oakland, outfielder Dexter Fowler from Houston, and relief ace Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees.
Additionally, he has drafted Kris Bryant with the second pick of the 2013 amateur draft, and signed key free agent pickups in pitcher Jon Lester and catcher David Ross (both after 2014 season), and pitcher John Lackey and infielder Ben Zobrist (both after 2015 season). Second baseman Javier Baez was a first-round draft pick in 2011, and catcher William Contreras was signed as a free agent in 2009 (both transactions before Epstein’s arrival).
Cubs manager Maddon, who piloted Tampa Bay to four post season appearances (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013) in his nine seasons with the Rays, was named 2015 NL Manager of the Year after his first season at Wrigley. He should easily walk away with the honor again this year. Epstein almost hired Maddon to manage the Red Sox after the 2003 season before deciding on Francona.
Two teams hungry for a World Series championship, inspiring talent on each club, two solid baseball strategists manipulating the lineups. It should be fun to watch.
I can hear Harry now. “ A one, a two…..take me out to the ballgame…….”!Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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