Finally, the Cubs make the Series

By Steve Sell
October 25, 2016

The Lovable Losers.

The Flubs.

The Chubs.

The Choking Cubs.

They can all be put to rest.

The Chicago Cubs — this is so hard to say without shaking my head in disbelief — are playing tonight in the first game of the World Series at Cleveland.

Back in 1969, when I was 12, I was wondering if I would ever live long enough to see the Cubs play in a World Series since they couldn’t even beat the formerly sad sack New York Mets after having a huge lead in August.

So that’s only been, what, 47 years? I’ve gone from pre-teen to nearly doddling old fool.

The Cubs have been the poster child for professional sports ineptitude, having gone 71 years since a World Series appearance and they’re working on 108 years of not having won it all.

I can only imagine that Harry Caray is in heaven pounding down Bud after Bud. “Holy Cow, the Cubs win the pennant, the Cubs win the pennant, the Cubs win the pennant,” I can hear Harry slurring as he can’t believe what he just witnessed through his pop-bottle glasses.

This is for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. For Lee Arthur Smith and Sweet Billy Williams. For Ferguson Jenkins and Andre Dawson. And those are just some of the stars who couldn’t vault the Cubs into the Series.

How can a team not win a World Series for 108 years? At some point the law of averages have to catch up with them. You can’t be that bad for that long.

Just think of Royals fans suffering for 30 years between World Series titles. They have nothing on the Cubs. When the Cubs do something, they do it to make a splash.

This 2016 Chicago team has been baseball’s best since Day One. The 1908 Cubs of Tinker to Evers to Chance couldn’t hang with an arsenal of amazing pitching arms and young talent that’s barely old enough to buy a beer at Harry’s Tavern on Sheffield Avenue. Not only has this been the best team this year, it’s a team built to last as long as the payroll stays under $300 million.

You have to pity the Indians, themselves working on some ignominious history. They haven’t won a World Series since 1948, but they’re going to be as despised as Bartman when they invade Wrigley Field. Remember, the Cubs get only three home games while Cleveland plays lights-out at home — just ask the Royals — so they’re going to have to steal one somewhere.

Never has a nation rooted harder for a team than the Cubs, while Cleveland is going to be as popular as the plague. I, for one, like the Indians, especially their manager Terry “Tito” Francona. He’s knows a little something about history, having won two World Series titles at Boston, another baseball town that knows something about championship droughts.

On paper, it should be the Cubs’ series. They have the best starting staff since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, who featured four 20-game winners (but lost to Pittsburgh in the World Series). They have power, speed and defense.

Cleveland’s pitching has been damaged by injuries. Yet Andrew Miller has become such a weapon out of the bullpen he’s like three pitchers in one. He can pitch long relief, set up closer Cody Allen or close himself.

Cleveland’s lineup pales to the Cubs, though Carlos Santana is the best slugger nobody has ever heard of.

I looked at numerous stats going into the Series and the one that caught my eye the most was that Cleveland has the third-worst attendance in all of baseball. Only graveyard teams Oakland and Tampa Bay drew fewer fans. In fact, Cleveland played 81 home games and drew LESS than 20,000 per game. Gotta think there will be a few more fans for the Series.

My head tells me Cleveland is going to win, but how can you not go with the Cubs in 7?