World Series Preview: Indians v. Cubs

113 Years Ago

The Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates squared off in the first formal World Series pitting The American League Champion against The National League Champion. Grandstand tickets went for $1 a piece and the series was a best-of-9. It was monumental because the two leagues had never played before. Future Hall of Fame players would play other future Hall of Fame players for the first time ever. Cy Young and Honus Wagner would share the field. The series did not disappoint.

The Pirates took Games 1 behind a complete game by their starter Deacon Phillippe. The opposing pitcher in that game? Cy Young. Boston’s Patsy Dougherty led off Game 2 with an inside-the-park HR (only of lead-off inside-the-park HR in World Series history was Alcides Escobar’s in Game 1 against the Mets last year). Boston won 3-0. The next day, on just one
day of rest, Deacon Phillippe turned in another complete game en route to a 4-2 victory. Two days later the series went to Pittsburgh where, you guessed it, Deacon Phillippe on two days rest threw another complete game. With a looming 3-1 deficit in front of them, Boston leaned heavily on their 1-2 punch of Cy Young and Bill Dinneen. The two were the only players to pitch for the Americans over the final four games. Each twirled two complete games respectively as they stimied the potent Pittsburgh lineup led by star infielder Honus Wagner. Boston had won the inaugural World Series 5-3.

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Honus Wagner, hampered by major injuries, was just 6 for 27 (.222) and committed 6 defensive errors as well. He had led the league in batting average that year but refused to send his portrait to The Hall of Fame for batting champions.”I was too bum last year”, he wrote. “I was a joke in that Boston-Pittsburg Series. What does it profit a man to hammer along and make a few hits when they are not needed only to fall down when it comes to a pinch? I would be ashamed to have my picture up now.” He was my player of the decade for the 1900’s.

The next year the New York Giants owner John T. Brush refused to allow his team to play against “the inferior American League representative.” There was no World Series in 1904 as a result. He later regretted his decision after a movement of angered fans littered his mailbox with letters of varying disgruntled messages. There was so much unrest that it was deemed the World Series was an annual necessity. The winter following the 1904 season contracts were signed by both leagues making the series a mandatory event following every season. The World Series was officially born. America now had its’ first championship event.

Long Suffering Facts:

There were only 46 states the last time Chicago won The World Series.

The Cuyahoga River has caught fire multiple times, and was one of the main reasons for the creation of the EPA. All since the last time Cleveland won the World Series.

Combined, 87 managers have coached the Cubs and Indians since their last World Series Titles.

The Yankees have played in 153 World Series games since 1908.

The Indians changed ownership SIX times from ’62-78. They were not desirable (See: Major League)

Regardless of the outcome, the loser of this series will hold the longest World Series drought.

And either way, Texas will be in 2nd with 55 years of mediocrity.

Things to Know:

The American League is 64-46 in World Series.

Home Field Advantage (Cleveland) = Champion 55% of the time (61-49)

Winner of Game 1 = Champion 64% of the time (70-40) (17-2 since ’97)

This will be the 16th consecutive different champion in a row.

Steve Bartman (former Cub fan) and Jason Kipnis (Indians’ 2B) grew up on the same street. Kipnis’ sister graduated in the same class as Bartman.

Cleveland stole 134 bases this year.

Kyle Schwarber went down in game 3 of the season with a “season-ending injury.” He went 1-6 in the Arizona Fall League and will bat 5th for The Cubs tonight.


My Thoughts

The Indians are the best team in the American League. The Cubs are the best team in baseball. But I don’t think those on Waveland Avenue should start the celebration just yet. It’s all about the matchups.

Offense:

These are two of the most patient teams in the game (sorry pace of play enthusiasts). The Indians are the better baserunning group but the advantage at the dish is dramatically in the Cubs favor. With the addition of Kyle Schwarber, the lineup for the lovable losers becomes even more deep than previously before. They can do a little bit of everything, and don’t sleep on their pitchers with a bat in their hand. Advantage: Cubs.

Defense:

The closest of the 5 breakdown categories. Lindor and Kipnis up the middle are possibly the only other combination in the game that can be put in the same sentence as Baez and Russell. But outside of Lindor and Kipnis, the Indians can’t compete with the Cubs other seven with the leather. The Cubs led the league with 82 defensive runs saved with year. Advantage: Cubs.

Starting Pitching:

Any staff boasting NL-ERA Champion Kyle Hendricks and saavy veteran John Lackey as their Game 3 & 4 starters has something special. The injuries to Carrasco and Salazar (albeit on the WS roster) depletes an elite Cleveland staff. But I’ve been in the camp of starters don’t matter nearly as much in October as they do April-September. Thanks 2010’s Tigers for giving me that observation. Advantage: Cubs.

Bullpen:

Chapman has been human and Maddon has been shaky at best with his management of the pen this postseason. Cleveland, on-the-other-hand, has been unhittable. Think about this, the Indians offense hasn’t scored a run past the 6th inning all postseason and they are 7-1. That’s all you need to know. Advantage: Indians.

Manager:

Francona v Maddon. People love Joe Maddon. I mean LOVE him. I’m not one of those guys. I do think he’s good at his job. I also believe he’s one of those guys that is great at keeping things loose over the course of a 162-game season. I don’t like his in-game decision making though, and I think he’s had a few situations already this year where his players have bailed him out. Chapman is a one-inning guy but for some reason he has run him out there multiple times this postseason in the 8th. Terry Francona is just a better manager. Advantage: Indians.

My Prediction? Cubs in 5 / Indians in 7