After months of competition, the World Series comes down to this. In one corner, the Cleveland Indians. They haven’t won it all since 1948, and they are playing in a bad city for professional sporting teams. The Cleveland Browns are the NFL’s longest running joke, and before the return of prodigal son LeBron James the Cavaliers were no different when it came to the NBA. Now, the Indians have the chance to change that. With a win in the World Series, they would deliver a second major sporting title to Cleveland in less than six months. If you consider all of this, the Indians sound like the sentimental favourites. In fact, they’re not even close.
Euphoria: Chicago Cubs players celebrate their win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.
Instead, an Indians win would be less akin to a fairy-tale and more like the Grinch stealing Christmas. Their opponents? The Chicago Cubs. If the Indians think they have it hard, they have nothing on the long-suffering Cubs. Chicago have not been to the World Series since 1945, and the last time they actually won it was over 100 years ago, in 1908. Over the last 71 years, they have built up a reputation as Major League Baseball’s loveable losers. They have been so remarkably inept over that time that no-one sees them as a worry, and while the faithful keep turning up the wins don’t come too. To add to their placid image, the so-called “curse” which has plagued the club since 1945 is linked to an evicted billy goat in 1945. No kidding.
The Cubs have made the World Series, and in doing so they have crossed a bridge that has long been impassable. That one throw against Los Angeles, from Javier Baez to Anthony Rizzo, has changed everything. It has brought joy to those who have waited decades for it, but Cubs fans will know it’s not over yet. None of them will see it as a sure thing, instead looking at all the things that could so easily derail the Cubs bandwagon. It is nowhere near a sure thing against a team like the Indians. But this World Series goes so far beyond the seven games between Cleveland and Chicago. It represents seventy years of suffering, of constant losses and the Billy Goat curse. The Wrigley faithful, who have kept turning up in all conditions despite loss after loss, just deserve this. They’ll be turning up again throughout this World Series, loud and joyful as ever. They have the support of the neutrals, they have the team, and they have the confidence. Now all they need is the ring.