Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Not Buying It

The Chicago Cubs of 2016 feel like something that's been foisted on us, sort of like Taylor Swift, the Cronut, or any dopey meme. Society told you that you have to root for the Cubs. They're the "loveable losers!" They "Haven't won since 1908!" Nobody's actually sure why they're supposed to root for the Cubs, but of course everyone seems to kiss their feet anyway. Since Day 1 this season, it's felt like everyone was supposed to just capitulate to the Mighty Cubs, get out of their way and run for their lives. For a team whose fan base already acted completely beknighted, well, this season they've been beyond obnoxious.

Unfortunately, the Cubs steamroller couldn't be stopped. They broke from the gate like a house on fire and didn't let up. They won the NL Central mostly by formality and by this point the Media Machine took hold and essentially turned the Postseason into the Cubs Coronation. The National League portion of the Postseason was totally unbearable. I liked none of the teams to begin with. The Cubs predictably beating the Giants was of scant consolation after what the Giants did to the Mets. I did enjoy watching the Nationals get beaten by the Dodgers and even more getting to see them lose another deciding game in their home ballpark, but the result of that, a Cubs/Dodgers NLCS, was just one shit show ending and another beginning. I rooted for the Dodgers, not so much because I wanted them to win, but because someone, anyone had to put the Cubs in their place. I would have loved to see the Mets get a crack at them, even in their mostly-neutralized state, but that didn't materialize. Of course, the Dodgers knuckled under themselves, and on Saturday night, Clayton Kershaw caved to the momentum and the Cubs won the pennant. Did you know that this was their first pennant since 1945? Well, even if you had no idea who the Cubs were before Saturday, everyone and their brother made sure you did.

So, now we're on to the World Series, and if you can believe it, there is another team here that the Cubs have to play, and they're a pretty good story in their own right. The intrepid Cleveland Indians, a team I've always had a soft spot for, somehow navigated their way through the American League playoffs in spite of the loss of two of their best pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and boasting a lineup of few, if any, household names. Compare this to the Cubs, whose entire roster has been shoveled down our throats. But make no mistake, the Indians didn't make it here by accident. This is a good team, led by Terry Francona, who's been in this situation before.

This is of course a matchup of teams with checkered pasts. Did you know that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908? Oh, wait, you did. Everyone told you that 418,614 times over the last week. But the Indians haven't won since 1948, now the second-longest drought. So one of those streaks is going to end this season.

Conventional wisdom has you picking the Cubs. Or did someone just tell you that the Cubs were the team to pick. Whatever it is, I'm picking the Indians. Never mind my disdain for the Cubs or my dislike for their annoying fans. Never mind the fact that I'm still steaming over the fact that the Mets didn't get another crack at them. I just think the Indians are better put together for this kind of a series. They attack early on offense, don't strike out much, and have an absurdly good bullpen, led by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, that can shorten games and will put pressure on the Cubs. The Cubs are a strikeout lineup which is masked by the fact that they're also a Home Run lineup, and guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and hotshot newcomers like Javier Baez and Addison Russell who have used this Postseason as their personal coming out parties.

So, yeah. This is going to be a really good series, and I don't think a short series. But if you can wipe away the Cubs Pie that's been shoved in your face all season, you'll be able to look beyond the hype and the insistent assertion that the Cubs are the "Team of Destiny" and see that the Indians are going to win in 7.

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