After 71 years, the Chicago Cubs are back in the World Series.
In the year following a wild card berth and an NLCS defeat at the hands of the New York Mets, Chicago put together the best record in the MLB and weathered the storm of early October playoff baseball. They will represent the National League against the Cleveland Indians of the American League in a best-of-seven series to determine a champion. The games will take place between Oct. 25 and Nov. 2.
At the time of writing, the Indians had won the opening game in Cleveland by a score of 6-0. By printing, they will have completed another two games.
Many fans hope that this is the year that the Cubs break the “curse” that has haunted them since their last World Series victory in 1908. The last year the Cubs won the National League pennant was 1945, although they have made the playoffs seven times in that span.
The Indians, meanwhile, have quite a drought of their own, last winning in 1948—68 years ago—although they had very strong playoff pushes in the 1990s. These are two of the three longest droughts in all of professional North American sports, the other held by the Arizona Cardinals NFL franchise, at 94 years.
Injuries have been a large issue this year for Cleveland, most interestingly that of starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who lacerated one of his throwing fingers on a drone. He’ll be pitching in Game 2, though. The Tribe comes into the Series having worked a stellar October, winning 7 of 8 in the playoffs. At this point, it Cleveland is positioned well to continue this trend. Interestingly, with Tuesday’s win, Terry Francona, the manager of the Indians, has a record of 9-0 in World Series games. He won two championships as manager of the Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007).
Chicago, as previously mentioned, has been on a tear most of the season. They began the season on a hot streak, going 25-6, and hardly let off the throttle throughout the year. They ended 2016 as the only team with more than 95 wins, at 103-58. Their pitching was a huge strength, and they produced 3 strong contenders for the Cy Young Award; Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta (who won it in 2015).
I said previously that the Cubs would have a Golden State Warriors-esque collapse, but I did not expect it to be against another team from Cleveland.
Despite the successful season that the Cubs have put on so far, I can’t foresee a circumstance where they are able to win it all. Their successes are undeniable, but it comes down to winning in late October, which the Cubbies have been unable to do. Add to that the fact that the last six winners (and 24 of the last 28) took Game 1, and I’m predicting the Indians win it all in six or fewer games.