In a year of celebrity presidential candidates, email espionage, and the NBA super team to end all super teams, nothing matches the craziness of tonight’s inconceivable World Series matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. Two of the world’s most notorious losers will be dueling it out for the sports biggest prize.
So how could we possibly be about to witness a World Series game between the Cubs and Indians that won’t involve Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn or Henry Rowengartner? It’s starts with two of the generations’ best mangers.
In one corner, you have Joe Maddon, who’s not only seeking the Cubs first World Series in 108 years, but also the first of his own. Maddon is a wizard when it comes to positioning fielders. The Cubs shuffle positions like a Spotify playlist, which is just as much an homage to their versatile fielders as it is Maddon’s genius.
His counterpart, Terry Francona, is looking to get the monkey off the Indian’s back in the same way he did for the 2004 Boston Red Sox. He’s a classic button-pushing manager, with a knack for handing the right pitcher the ball at the right time. Rookie Ryan Merritt had only pitched eleven innings in his entire career, going into game five of the American League Championship Series. That didn’t stop Francona from giving him the start. Merritt pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in route to the Indians 3-0 closeout victory over the Toronto Blue Jays
The Cubs have been the darlings of Major League Baseball, for the entire 2016 season. Their deep stating rotation and bevy of young hitters helped them amass 103 regular season wins, and earned the unofficial title of baseball’s best team.
Adding the electric closer Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline only submitted their status as title contenders.
Cleveland would be considered darlings in their own right had Lebron James’ summer triumph not erased some of the city’s underdog appeal. But the Indians would rather rely on their bullpen than the heart-warming sentiments of the American people, anyway. Relievers Cody Allen and ALCS MVP Andrew Miller have been incredible during the tribe’s playoff run. The tandem has thrown 19 1/3 scoreless innings and has stuck out 46 percent of the batters they’ve faced.
Thanks to the left-handed Miller, the Indians have been virtually unbeatable when taking a lead into the eighth inning. National League MVP candidates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, along with the rest of the Cub’s lineup, will probably have to hit some southpaws if they want to ‘raise the W’ four more times. That’s something they’ve struggled doing throughout the postseason.
Regardless of how this series turns out, one ball club will be winning its first championship in a very long time. I think that’s something most neutral fans can get behind.