The 2016 Fall Classic begins tonight and I am very torn. I like both teams. They're both young, and a lot of fun to watch. This is a great match-up for baseball. While it's Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Indians, the two teams with the longest active World Series victory droughts. It might as well be a Red Sox alumni game.
You have the Chicago Cubs who were built by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, both former Red Sox executives. Theo was GM of the Red Sox when they broke their 86 year World Series drought, and then a few years later added a 2nd championship for good measure. The Cubs are led by ace pitcher, Jon Lester who's personal catcher is David Ross. Both former Red Sox World Series champions. Lester was traded away by the Red Sox after being a major reason they won a championship. John Lackey, the Cubs 4th starter was the other half of a 1-2 punch in 2013, with Lester that brought a title to Boston. Oh and Cubs star slugging first basemen Anthony Rizzo was drafted by the Red Sox and supposed to be their first basemen of the future.
Then there's the Cleveland Indians who are of course managed by Terry Francona, who managed the Red Sox from 2004-2011. During his time he won two world series, NBD. ALCS MVP Andrew Miller pitched for the Red Sox from 2011-2014. Their first basemen, Mike Napoli was also a major piece of the 2013 Red Sox. Oh and they have Coco Crisp, who is still somehow alive, who played with the Sox from 2006-08 and won a World Series as well.
Even if you don't follow baseball you probably know the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. It's what many call "the last great sports story". Beloved franchise, with solid history, who just has had an off-century, it happens. Well, now finally for the first time since 1945( a series they lost in 7 games) they are playing in the World Series. But even had they won they'd STILL have the longest active World Series drought.
The team they face-off against, the Cleveland Indians isn't exactly on a historic hot streak either; they haven't won the World Series since 1948, and are making only their 3rd appearance since 1955.
Either way a team that hasn't won a championship in nearly 70 years is going to. That is really cool, two fanbases who've been close, but have no sealed the deal in quite sometime.
Going into the season the Cubs were the heavy favorite to make it here and win the whole thing. Last year they won 97 games and made it to the NLCS. They're young, they're loaded, they won 103 games this season, they were expected to be here. The same cannot be said for the Cleveland Indians. Although many believed they had what it takes to make the playoffs, going into the season not many had them coming out of the American League. Experts thought teams like the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Astros and Rangers all had a better shot. Well the tribe is here, miraculously. This Indians team is nowhere close to the team they went into the season with. They lost a lot of key guys to injury for long periods of time. Now many believe the adversity they faced is why they made it this far.
I honestly have no feel whatsoever, and the fact that I'd be happy with either team winning makes it even harder to pick a side. My head says Cubs. I mean look at their team top to bottom, it's one of the most talented rosters ever assembled. Then entire National League starting infield in the All-Star game was Cubs. Their starting rotation 1-4 features two World Series heroes, a Cy Young winner, and this seasons ERA leader. They have a closer who throws 105 MPH. They have one of the most respected managers in baseball. They are a better team than the Indians 1 through 25.
Then theres the Indians, nobody expected them to beat the Red Sox in the ALDS. They swept the Red Sox. Many picked the Blue Jays to beat the Indians in the ALCS. The Indians beat them 4-1. They went 7-1 against the best teams in the American League and did it very unconventionally. You look at their line-up and it doesn't scare you. They have 1 great starting pitcher, and then a bunch of nobodies. They're led by a future HOF manager and a nasty bullpen. It's been all about their bullpen. Maybe I shouldn't call it unconventional because it's very similar to the Royals of the last two World Series but the Indians are led by a lights out bullpen who has multiple guys who can give you multiple innings. The Indians have been slept on all season and postseason and they have no issue with that at all.
So who do I like to win it all? Even as I type this I cannot decide, I want them both to win. But I'm going with who I've had all season, the Chicago Cubs and here is why.
There's no way Cleveland is going to win two championships in one season. You can talk all the analytics you want, give me all the stats. I'm just going with common sense.
This summer when the Cavs beat the Warriors it gave Cleveland it's first major championship since the Browns won an NFL Championship (PRE SUPER BOWL) in 1964. Cleveland is a loser city, that's just how it goes. It's the drive, the fumble, red-right 88, Jose Mesa, the Browns leaving, firing Bill Belichick, having Josh Beckett's ex sing the National Anthem, the Browns in general. I just cannot see them winning it all again. They aren't gonna go 51 years with no titles and then win 2 in six months, just won't happen. I love Tito and want him to succeed, and believe me if the Indians win I'll be very happy for them but I just don't see it coming.
This miracle run has to end at some point and I think the best team in baseball, the Chicago Cubs is the team to do it.
Cubs in 6. MVP: Anthony Rizzo.