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talkin' baseball - KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
kradical
kradical
talkin' baseball
Wrenn and I stayed up late to watch the World Series last night. It was tremendous fun, and nice to see a game that exciting where I had no dog in the fight. I honestly was fine with either team winning -- both had closers acquired from the Yankees (it actually amused the crap out of me that the Yanks traded two of their three top relievers, keeping only Dellin Betances, and they went to the two World Series teams), and both had championship droughts that predated the birth of the majority of their fan base. The Cubs last won a series in 1908 (the second of two back-to-back series, in fact), and the Indians in 1948. The Cubs had the edge in terms of long suffering -- this was their first time in the WS since 1945, which is even longer than the Indians' championship drought, and Cleveland was last in the series in 1997.

Still, both teams have long had a narrative as losers. The Cubs never quite making it to the championship trophy has become seared into the pop-culture narrative. Plays have been written about it, science fiction authors have made their constantly losing a part of their plots of how the future will happen. But the ineptitude of the Indians over the decades has been similarly seared -- though the team's 1990s renaissance that saw them at the top of the AL Central and going to the series in '97 spoiled that narrative a bit -- to the point where they were the obvious choice for a comedic baseball movie about a sucky team getting good against all odds.

So no matter what, there was going to be one fan base that would be as ecstatic as possible this morning, and another that would have all their worst fears about how much their team can't catch a break confirmed. Either way, the percentage of Indians fans that were alive (and, y'know, aware) the last time they won the series is miniscule, and that number is probably zero for Cubs fans, so this was gonna be huge no matter what.

And the game more than lived up to the hype. The results in doubt all the way to the end. Crazy stuff happening. Dumb managerial moves from both sides. Those two ex-Yankee closers I mentioned both giving up important runs. Rajai Davis going from goat to hero to footnote. Two runs scoring on a wild pitch off David Ross's head. Dramatic home runs. Extra innings. A rain delay. And my entire Twitter feed being filled with variations on, "Holy shit, THIS GAME!!!!"

Now, it's over. The Indians take over from the Cubs as the team with the longest postseason drought (though one could argue that fans of the Mariners, Nationals/Expos, Senators/Rangers, Padres, Pilots/Brewers, Devil Rays/Rays, Rockies, Colt .45s/Astros have suffered more because they've never won a championship, but all those teams came into existence after 1948, so it's not as long a drought anyhow....). Cleveland is now the only one of the original 16 teams that made up the entirety of Major League Baseball from 1903 to 1960 that hasn't won a world championship since expansion started in 1961.

What's especially cool is that, since the turn of the millennium, we've seen several major championship droughts of three decades or more come to an end: the Red Sox in 2004 (last won in 1918), the White Sox in 2005 (last won in 1917), the Giants in 2010 (last won in 1954), the Royals in 2015 (last won in 1985), and now the mother of them all, the Cubs (last won in 1908). You can throw the Angels' first-ever championship in 2002 in there as well, going back to their founding in 1961.

Great time to be a baseball fan, is all I'm saying.

So when do pitchers and catchers report, again? *grin*

Current Mood: impressed impressed
Current Music: "Look Into the Sun" by Jethro Tull

4 comments or Please comment
Comments
tiggerallyn From: tiggerallyn Date: November 3rd, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Droughts

"The Indians take over from the Cubs as the team with the longest postseason drought (though one could argue that fans of the Mariners, Nationals/Expos, Senators/Rangers, Padres, Pilots/Brewers, Devil Rays/Rays, Rockies, Colt .45s/Astros have suffered more because they've never won a championship, but all those teams came into existence after 1948, so it's not as long a drought anyhow....)"

The Nationals consider 1924 as the start of their championship drought, as that's when the Senators won the World Series.

Factually, that's not their history — the franchise that won that victory is in Minnesota — but they see themselves as the continuance of Washington's baseball history. (They used to sell "Established 1901" t-shirts in the team store.)

I'm trying to think of anything comparable. The Cleveland Browns are a prime example; the original franchise is in Baltimore, but the current Browns team claims the Browns' past. And I suppose that the Mets have made themselves into the spiritual heir to the Dodgers with their replica Ebbets.

Point is, when the Nationals reach the World Series, their narrative will be "First World Series since 1933," and when they win it will be "First championship since 1924."
kradical From: kradical Date: November 3rd, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Droughts

Maybe, but that narrative will be wrong. The heritage of the current Washington Nationals is as the first team ever to be in Canada, and while I like how they acknowledge the history of baseball in Washington at Nats Park, the team that won the series in 1924 also won the series in 1991. :)

The Expos deserve better than to be consigned to the cornfield, and the Nats don't get to take the history of the Senators away from the Twins any more or less than the Mets get to take the Dodgers' and Giants' history in NYC away from them.
dewline From: dewline Date: November 3rd, 2016 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Droughts

There are certainly people in Montréal who have their own ideas about a proper remedy to "the cornfield". Whether they'll be able to do anything with or about those ideas remains unclear.
tiggerallyn From: tiggerallyn Date: November 6th, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Droughts

You're not wrong, and I don't disagree with you. But I know how it will play, at least in the DMV; we're talking about a baseball team that flies a 1924 World Series flag and 1925 and 1933 AL pennant flags alongside the 2012 and 2014 NL East Champion flags over the scoreboard. And yes, I'm well aware of how unseemly that's considered by national sportswriters.

The Expos are a touchy subject with segments of the fandom, particularly ones who grew up with the Senators I and the Senators II. There are people, some connected to the franchise itself, apparently including even the ownership, that would prefer the Nationals ignore the Expos' past in the same way the Orioles disclaim their St. Louis Browns past or the way that the Yankees have recently disclaimed their 1901-2 Baltimore Orioles past. (I understand the Yankees' argument that the Orioles were folded rather than bankrupted, making the Highlanders a new franchise. I happen to disagree with it.)

The Expos' retired numbers aren't retired in DC, and adding Gary Carter and Andre Dawson to National Park's Ring of Honor was controversial. The election of Dawson to the Hall of Fame was the tipping point for adding both; when there was only one Expo in the HOF — Carter — it was easier to exclude that one. (For the record, I like that Nationals Park honors Carter and Dawson. I don't care that they have no connection to DC proper. When MASN showed the unveiling ceremony, I blubbered like a baby.) The addition of Frank Howard this year, even though he's not in the Hall of Fame, bolsters, in my opinion, the argument that Tim Raines, Hall of Fame-worthy, imho, but not in the Hall, also should be added to the Ring of Honor.

When Montreal gets a baseball team — and that's a matter of when, not if, because even if expansion doesn't happen relocation (Oakland? Tampa? Miami?) will — there's no doubt in my mind that the Nationals will essentially hand off their Expos history to the new Montreal team. I'll be disappointed when that happens, and I'd hope that Carter and Dawson will remain commemorated on the Ring of Honor.
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