October 24, 2016

ELDEN | World Series Preview: Cubs Vs. Indians

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The Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series for the first time since 1945 — they haven’t won the World Series since 1908. The last time the Cubs won a championship, the Great Depression was 20 years into the future, the Titanic had not been built, and two World Wars had yet to be fought.

The team’s’ shortcomings were blamed on anything from the Curse of the Billy Goat (during the 1908 World Series, when bar-owner Billy Sianis “cursed” the team after being asked to leave with his pet goat, Murphy) to Steve Bartman’s catch that arguably cost the Cubs a chance at the World Series in 2003. They lost seven straight championships between 1909 and 1945, and only made the playoffs just eight times in the 71 seasons that followed.

The Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948, just three years after the end of World War II. From 1995 to 2001, they missed the playoffs once and never finished below second in their division. Before this spectacular run, they had not made the playoffs for 40 straight seasons. They were unable to pull a World Series out of their successes, but are getting a shot at redemption this week.

Either the Cubs or the Indians will end their respective 50-plus year championship drought this week, as they face off in the World Series. The Indians come into the series with a highly-talented pitching staff, headed by ace Corey Kluber and relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. The Cubs have Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Hendricks to act as star power.

The Indians acquired Andrew Miller at the trade deadline for a four-player package headlined by top prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield. The prospect package given up for Miller was considered an extremely high price for a reliever, but he performed up to his expectations and more this postseason.

Miller has struck out 21 in 11.2 innings without giving up a run. Cody Allen has been almost nearly as good, striking out 12 in 7.2 scoreless innings. If the Indians win the World Series, the Miller trade was arguably a necessary move to win the team a championship and should have been made. If they lose, and Clint Frazier lives up to his potential, the fans will look back on Miller with regret.

Otherwise, the majority of the Indians talent is homegrown. Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, Jose Ramirez and Danny Salazar were all drafted or signed as international free agents by Cleveland. They dealt with injuries to key players like Salazar and catcher Yan Gomes, yet they still made it to the World Series. They go into the series as the underdogs against a team that won 103 games.

The Cubs made only very minor in-season moves, mostly sticking with a team that changed little since the offseason. A front office lead by Theo Epstien and Jed Hoyer brought in a tremendous amount of talent in trades. Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta were brought in through shrewd trades that netted enormous returns for the team.

The 2016 World Series features two teams that have not won a championship in many years. No matter who wins, the fans of one team will rejoice in the end of a drought, and the fans of the other will spend another year hoping that it will end. The result of this World Series will go down in Major League history regardless of its outcome. For fans of the teams, and fans of baseball, this will be a great series to watch.