The 2016 World Series
Of the major sports in the United States, baseball is arguably the most storied. The championship series is clearly the oldest of the major championships. I’ve discussed in this blog before that for sports fans, even perhaps non-sports fans as well, history matters. The 1903 World Series was the start of America’s love affair with the game, and we’ve been watching the storyline in a few different incarnations more or less since…you know, except for 1904…and 1994.
We watched in 2004 as the Boston Red Sox improbably beat the New York Yankees in 7-games to advance to the World Series after going down in the series 3-0 to win their first World Championship since 1918. The next year, the Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since 1917…of course, they had the opportunity to win the 1919 World Series, but there was this little gambling scandal and all.
This of course left two franchises with a World Series drought: The Cleveland Indians and the team from the Northside of Chicago, the Cubs.
Now, the Indians had the opportunity in 1997, taking a little upstart team from Florida into extra innings in Game 7, but in the end lost their bid on an RBI single. AS an aside, I remember listening to that game driving home from the 1997 MLS Cup Championship game in Washington DC. If the Red Sox couldn’t break their curse, the Indians shouldn’t be able to, and lo, they weren’t.
The Cubs have had an even more tortured history with the baseball championship. The lore includes the curse of the billy goat, curing the teams’ chances in the 1945 World Series…where they haven’t been since.
So here we are – 2016. 68 years since the Cleveland Indians won the World Series; 108 years since the Cubs were World Champions. By the end of this series, one of these historic franchises will have broken a curse, will accomplish something that most people alive today have never seen and may perhaps launch a new dynasty. In 2003, if you had told me after the Red Sox got bounced from the ALCS, that they will win three times in the next ten years, I wouldn’t have believed it.
The amazing story and the guaranteed heartache the fans of one of these teams will feel, the guaranteed elation, the feeling that nothing will remotely come close just cannot be over-estimated. I know – I’ve lived that feeling as a Red Sox fan. Cleveland and Chicago are both 4 wins away from erasing generations of disappointment and despair.
THIS is what inspiration looks like to me as a sports fan. Generations coming together. The common connections within these cities. The comradery felt – even if it’s for ten days or so – has no equal, and is understood by only a few. It’s a disappointing season for Yankees fans if they don’t win it all. For fans of one of these two teams, it will be adulation. For fans of both of these teams, it will be a season to remember.
And that to me is inspiring.