“Fall Classic-So Much History-So Much Bad History”
Baseball tradition is so much a fabric of the game.
Teams, personalities, quirks, successes, failures.
That’s what makes tonites opening game in the World Series so special, because there is so much history between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.
So much expectation, so much heartbreak too.
The Cubs, haven’t been to the Fall Classic since right after World War II, 1945, when they lost to the Detroit Tigers. The Hank Greenburg, Detroit Tigers. The Cubs stars that given summer were pitcher Hank Wyse and slugging young outfielder Andy Pafko and 3rd baseman Stan Hack.
The Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, the spitball era, a team anchored by Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown and Heine Zimmerman, and the famous infield combination of Tinker-to-Evers-to Chance
The Indians did get to the World Series in 2007, the era of the Alomars and others.
Cleveland failures date back though to the painful 1954 season, when they won 111-games, breaking the stranglehold on the Yankees era, only to get swept by the other New York team, the Giants. You remember, if you are an old timer, Vic Wertz near home run eraticated by Willie Mays over the shoulder catch.
The Tribe did win the Series in 1948, beating the Boston Braves, in the era when everybody loved baseball in the Bill Veeck era, coming out of World War II.
History will run names up the flagpole like legendary Cubs slugger Hack Wilson, and Mr. Cub Ernie Banks, and “let’s play two”.
Of course the Cubs also gave us some four frightful years of baseball with the College of Coaches, their rotating managers.
Modern day Cubs ball includes Sammy Sosa, the home run hitter, but decades of frustration, dating back to the ‘Curse of the Billy Goat.’.
Indians baseball featured Wynn, Garcia, Lemon, the great Cleveland pitching staff.
If dealt with the tragedies of the Ray Chapman beaning in 1920, the linedrive that ruined Herb Score’s brilliant career.
We had to deal with “Don’t knock the Rock”, Rocky Colavito, and then agonize over his trade to the Tigers for singles hitter Harvey Kueen.
Damn Frank ‘The Trader’ Lane, GM back in the day for doing that.
Ivy on the walls, the old scoreboard, the rooftop seats and Ron Santo represent all good things about Wrigleyville.
Cleveland remembers Super Joe Charbonneau, Rapid Robert Feller, Bell-Manning-Eckersley, and cavernous Municipal Stadium, the ‘Mistake on the Lake’.
But in the here and now, the Cubs will roll out the big hitters, Rizzo and Bryant, and the big arms, Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks. That plus the Cuban connection of young stars.
The Indians give us no-names, young players, who have excelled. I bet the average fan cannot name guys like Lindor, Lisenhall, Kipnis and Kluber.
But beginning tonite, all the ghosts of past failures will be filed away.
You hope for a good series between Chief Wahoo and the Cubs. Stretch it to seven games, give us some more drama, but in the end, the batting order and the pitching staffs will see fans in Chicago run up the “W” flag at Wrigley Field.
Somewhere up there by this time next week, I’ll hear in the my heart, Harry Caray, drinking a beer somewhere, yelling “Cubs Win-Cubs W