2016 World Series: Should Red Sox fans root for the Cubs?
The Chicago Cubs have been baseball’s lovable losers for a long, long time. They haven’t won a World Series since 1908. But with a win in game six of the NLCS on Saturday night, the Cubs advanced to the World Series, finally winning their first National League Pennant since 1945.
The Cubbies retired the minimum number of batters (27) in a playoff game. The last team to accomplish this feat? The 1956 New York Yankees, when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
It appears, for the moment, that the Cubs have the stars aligned to finally win their first World Series in 108 years.
Opposing them are the Cleveland Indians, who themselves are seeking a World Series title for the first time since 1948.
With injuries to their starting pitching, there were numerous question marks about the Indians’ chances in the postseason. They shut down the mighty Boston Red Sox and their juggernaut offense, sweeping them in the ALDS. They were projected to then get throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, whom they beat handily in five games. Much of this is thanks to the managerial decisions of Terry Francona, who has been able to mix and match his bullpen in order to shut down opposing lineups.
At this World Series, one of the two franchises will end a streak of despair that has been decades in the making.
But, looking at this from the perspective of a Boston sports fan, what are those of us who seek a rooting interest left to do, now that the Red Sox have been eliminated?
Instinct says we should cheer for the Cubs, as their championship drought is the longest. They’re also sufferers of a dreaded “curse,” something Red Sox fans should be all too familiar with. Also, the Indians defeated the Sox in the ALDS with former players from their championship teams of years past.
What more could we ask for as Boston sports fans than to have a hapless franchise suffering for a long period of time beat the team that knocked us out?
Hot take alert: Boston sports fans should be rooting against the Cubs. You read that right.
Let’s put this in perspective and look at the two franchises who suffered for all those years.
Before 2004, there were 5 teams with championship droughts of 55 years or more. San Francisco hadn’t won since 1954, going 58 years before finally winning in 2010. The Chicago White Sox went 88 years before winning in 2005, their first since 1917. The Red Sox ended their 88 year drought in 2004 by winning their first championship since 1918 (the latter two have each won 2 more titles after their initial title win- the Giants in 2012 and 2014; the Red Sox in 2007 and 2013).
As of 2016, we’ve got two clubs left to break their droughts. They happen to be playing each other in the World Series.
The Cubs haven’t raised a banner since 1908, 108 years ago. The Indians, of course, haven’t won since 1948, 68 years ago.
But this all ties back to the Red Sox. They are the original curse breakers. We did it first.
We’re also extremely territorial of our “original curse breaker” status.
We suffered more over a long period of time. We had to overcome more notoriously successful and more talented rival teams.
We suffered more devastating losses and bizarre endings that crushed our dreams.
And most importantly- we earned it because we deserved it more than anyone.
The Cubs may not have won for 108 years, but they also have sucked for a lot longer than we have. There are underdogs, and there are losers. The discrepancy between the two clubs is more than apparent.
For Boston fans, the Cubs do not deserve a World Series title because they haven’t earned it like we did.
Our misery is more miserable than your misery, Chicago.
Let’s start with the curses themselves: the battle of Bambinos and Billy Goats.
The Curse of the Bambino is far more well known than that Curse of the Billy Goat. It is, for the most part, the (very) long term effects of what can happen when one player alters the futures of a franchise. The Curse of the Billy Goat is more like what happens when the rapper Lil B curses James Harden before the Rockets face the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Are we taking Chicago’s “curse” too seriously?
Since the Red Sox won the 1918 World Series (where they beat the Cubs), they’ve had 17 postseason appearances, which includes eight division titles and seven wild card births. The other two appearances came in 1946 and 1967, (there was no LCS at until 1969), when the Sox had the best record in the American League and went to the World Series.
In those 17 playoff appearances, the Sox captured seven American League Pennants and three World Series titles. They were swept out of the playoffs only five times, while participating in 12 playoff series (ALDS, LCS, or World Series) that went all the way to winner-take-all elimination games.
The Cubs have made the playoffs only eight times since 1945, winning six division titles and two wild card births. In four of their eight appearances, they were swept out of the playoffs. Their only playoff series wins came in 2003 (NLDS), 2015 (NLDS), and 2016 (NLDS, NLCS).
The Red Sox were the lovable losers who were always just one rung short.
In 1984, the Cubs faced the San Diego Padres in the then-best of five NLCS. They went up two games to none in the series, only to drop the next three straight. San Diego went on to the World Series.
The closest they got (before this year) was by beating the Braves three games to two in the 2003 NLDS, then going up three games to one on the Florida Marlins in the NLCS. We all know what happened next.
Other than that, the Cubs have never made a sound in the playoffs before this year.
The comparison is not close on the stats sheet.
Let’s take a trip through the history of the Red Sox suffering, shall we?
1946- The Red Sox win the American League by 12 games and are heavy favorites to win the World Series. In game seven, a base hit turns into a game-winner for St. Louis, as the “mad dash,” as it is now known by Enos Slaughter, paired with the delayed, highly controversial throw from Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky, seals the World Series for the Cardinals.
1967- The “Impossible Dream” year. After finishing a half game above last place in 1966, the Red Sox miraculously rebounded to win the American League on the final game of the season in 1967, thanks to the Cy Young-winning season by ace Jim Lonborg, and the MVP season of Carl Yastrzemski. The Red Sox rallied from down 3-1 in the series to force a game seven at Fenway Park, with Lonborg pitching on two day’s rest against the Cardinals ace Bob Gibson, but were ultimately defeated 7-2.
1975- Game six at Fenway Park. The Red Sox, having already battled back from being down three games to one at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, found themselves in a 6-3 hole in the bottom of the 8th. Bernie Carbo came off the bench and crushed a 2-2 pitch to dead centerfield for a three-run home run, tying the game at 6, and sending it to extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Carlton Fisk hit one of the most dramatic home runs in baseball history, sending one down the left field line and off the foul pole. Fisk, hopping down the first base line, waved his arms, attempting to direct the ball to stay fair. It worked, and the Sox won the game and tied the series. With three prior days of rain delay, the Red Sox had both ace pitchers Luis Tiant and Bill Lee available to try to close out the series. The Red Sox began game seven in the lead, 3-0, but ended up losing 4-3.
1986- Game 6 at Shea Stadium, Red Sox vs. Mets. The Sox made it to the World Series on the back of a dramatic late-inning home run by Dave Henderson, which ultimately sunk the California Angels. The Red Sox were one strike away from winning the World Series, which would be their first in 68 years. In a back and forth game, the Red Sox, after blowing a save in the bottom of the 9th, scored two more runs of their own in the top of the 10th, seemingly putting the game and the series away, up 5-3. The Mets were down to their last strike on two separate occasions, but managed three consecutive hits with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, cutting the Boston lead to 5-4. After pulling Calvin Schiraldi, Red Sox manager John McNamara went with former closer Bob Stanley to face Mookie Wilson. After a back-and-forth battle that kept the count at 2-2 for seven pitches, Stanley lost control of his next pitch, allowing the speedy Kevin Mitchell to score and tie the game at 5. Two pitches later, Wilson hit a slow roller down the first base line, which went through the legs of the first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run. The Mets would go on to win game seven at home the following night.
Why should the Cubs receive any kind of sympathy from Boston fans? The suffering the Red Sox have endured has been far worse.
But hey, at least we can blame the players on the field for our prior misfortune and not absurd happenings away from the game, right?
Take the selling of Babe Ruth, for instance. It is a prime example of the long term effects of giving a way a star player to a rival team. This is far less of a blatant “plague on both your houses” and more of an “oh shit, this has negatively impacted our franchise for an excrutiatingly long amount of time.”
Things originated differently on the North Side. Chicago tavern owner Billy Sianis brought a goat to the 1945 World Series and was kicked out because the smell of the animal was disturbing other fans, giving a verbal warning on his way out of Wrigley Field.
“Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” he allegedly declared.
Give me a break. Oakland Raiders fans can blame the Tuck Rule game for them not winning the Super Bowl in 2001. They can’t use it as an excuse for sucking for the next 14 years.
Red Sox fans can blame poor managerial decisions and individual on-field events for each heartbreaking defeat. Cubs fans have to find scapegoats in the years they got relatively close.
We can talk about the decision to start Jim Lonborg in 1967 on two-days rest, where he clearly struggled. We can talk about the decision by John McNamara to take Roger Clemens out of game six in 1986, and his decision to leave Bill Buckner in the game.
Or, we can talk about some poor guy who was doing what any fan would during a baseball game.
During game six of the 2003 NLCS, the fan that comes to mind is Steve Bartman, who interfered with a charging Moises Alou, who didn’t really have much of a chance of catching the foul ball in the first place. The player that is forgotten is Alex Gonzalez, who botched a potential double-play ground ball that would have closed out the inning, all but sending the Cubs to the World Series. Instead, the Marlins scored eight runs in the 8th and won the game.
Thirteen years later, Bartman still receives threats from fans who are completely oblivious to the fact that he is not responsible for losing the game. The players on the field are.
To rub even more salt in the would, the Cubs’ crosstown counterparts, the White Sox, won their first World Series in 88 years only two seasons later. But that’s less sad and more just unfortunate.
And, let’s be real, here. There is nothing romantic about this Cubs team we see before us in 2016. And it’s very easy to be romantic about baseball.
The Cubs had the best record in baseball in 2016, winning 103 games. The 2004 Red Sox were 10.5 games back of the Yankees in August 2004, but managed to close the gap to as few as 2.5 in almost three weeks, finishing only three games back, clinching a Wild Card spot. They won 98 games, which would be the third most in 2004 and the second most in 2016, but the New York Yankees were simply better.
The Cubs have no one in their division that is good on a consistent basis. I mean, sure, the Cardinals have traditionally been very good. But it’s nothing like the Red Sox have suffered at the hands of the Yankees. Just about every year, it has been the Yankees leading the division, and the Red Sox hanging on for dear life in the American League East.
The construction of the two teams could not be more different.
The 2004 Red Sox tearfully traded away one of their icons, shortstop Nomar Garciappara, in order to piece together a World Series team. Talk about romantic. The team was full of holes that ultimately found a way to cover each other’s weaknesses and win. They even called themselves “the Idiots.”
What have the Cubs done? They’ve essentially created a super-team, with four Cy-Young quality pitchers, an infield that started at all four positions in the All-Star Game, and an outfield bursting with talent. And they’ve done this with the same General Manager that helped the Red Sox break their curse in 2004- Theo Epstein- Another reason for Sox fans to be salty toward the Cubs. There’s a reason why many of the best players on the Cubs look familiar- they all used to play in Boston. Talk about a kick in the teeth.
If Epstein and the Cubs win this World Series, he will have punched his ticked into Cooperstown at the age of 42. He was 28 when the Red Sox won in 2004. Leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, doesn’t it, Boston fans?
But if you look up the word “magical” in the dictionary, you wouldn’t see a picture of this year’s Cubs, that’s for damn sure.
The Cubs advanced in the NLDS because the Giants bullpen completely fell apart. They beat the Dodgers because of Clayton Kershaw not being able to keep his cool during the playoffs. That’s not suffering.
And to top it off, the Cubs are actually favored to win the World Series. They’ve been the favorite ever since the season started? That’s never fun, to see the favored team win like everyone’s expecting them to.
If you want to be romantic about baseball, look no further than the 2004 American League Championship Series. Having been eliminated the year before by the Yankees on a game seven walk-off home run by Aaron Boone, the Red Sox returned to the ALCS against their rival squad, and quickly fell in a three-games-to-none hole.
With postseason heroics from the likes of Dave Roberts, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, and a host of others, the Red Sox became the first team ever to win a best of seven series when down three games to none, rattling off four consecutive wins against their bitter rivals. And to finish off the victory in Yankee Stadium where they were crushed yet again in 2003 was the icing on the cake.
One could even argue that Sox fans should stay out of watching this World Series altogether- because the Cleveland Indians are pretty much the same thing; a host of former Red Sox players (and one former manager) who have somehow captured that “lightning in a bottle” essence and ridden it all the way to the Fall Classic.
But, to be fair, the Indians are the better story in all of this. To be plagued by injury, and then essentially slaughter two teams that are offensive juggernauts and were projected to beat you is a remarkable achievement by itself, especially for a city that has traditionally sucked at everything, and is now competing for its second major sports championship in six months. It’s NC State-esque, circa 1983. It’s playoff magic.
When it comes right down to it, both teams playing in the World Series are the Ghosts of Red Sox past.
So, Cleveland and Chicago, you’re welcome.
The bitterness between the Boston fan and the Chicago should absolutely exist. There’s a sense of vitriol that exists in Boston fans toward their teams, even in moments of elation.
Chicago fans could care less if their team wins- they’ve been doing it for the last 108 years. They don’t call Wrigley Field the “Friendly Confines” for nothing. Hell, people are already saying that the curse of the Billy Goat has been lifted even though the team hasn’t won the World Series yet. I mean, we were pumped when we pulled out that comeback against the Yankees in 2004, but at least we knew we had a job to finish.
When the Cubs and Indians take the field on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Boston fans have an interesting decision to make. History’s going to be made either way, it’s just a matter of which one you want to see win- or lose- most.
One franchise will undoubtedly earn a well-fought a World Series title for their city. For those of us on the outside looking it, it’s just a matter of who the members of Red Sox Nation want to accept as their equals.
The World Series begins Tuesday, October 25th at 8pm on FOX.
Disclaimer: I would like to state my need to watch history happen. So I’ll be rooting against this hot take. Prediction: Chicago wins this series, 4-1.
The Hunt for October- 2016 MLB Playoff Predictions
At last, October is upon us! Aside from everything great about October that we all know and love (Halloween, pumpkins and their subsequent spiced lattes, and the sweet spot of FALL), this month brings us one of the most magical times of the year- the Major League Baseball Playoffs.
Around the league, there seems to be a major theme in storylines regarding the 10 teams playing for a World Series title this year: Fairytales. We've got teams playing to break curses, teams looking for their first title, and even teams looking to solidify dynasties.
Chicago Cubs (103-58), NL Central Champions
Just about everyone in baseball is anxiously awaiting to see what the Chicago Cubs will bring to the table this October. The North Side's lovable losers- as we're all aware- haven't won a World Series since 1908 (108 years). In fact, they haven't even advanced to the World Series since 1945. With a stellar rotation featuring Jake Arrietta and Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel and John Lackey (their entire rotation is in the top 20 for pitching in the National League), an MVP candidate in Kris Bryant, an All-Star Game starting infield, and a fantastic closer in Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs have the league's best record this year, as they were the only team to win over 100 games. All signs point to a return to the Fall Classic, and perhaps even a win for the city that's been hurting for so long without one.
Cleveland Indians (94-67), AL Central Champions
Next, we have the Cleveland Indians- the team with the second longest World Series drought, clocking in at 68 years (their last title was in 1948)- although they last made it to the World Series in 1994 and 1997. Manager Terry Francona has managed to keep this team above water for nearly six months, dealing with major injuries and setbacks along the way. While the rotation has a lot of question marks entering this month (Kluber almost back from injury but a few other starters on the shelf), Francona has been able to use his bullpen's arms to great effect, particularly that of trade deadline-acquisition Andrew Miller. Even though they're the American League's second seed, I consider this team to be a big underdog headed into Thursday's date with the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox (93-69), AL East Champions
Speaking of the Red Sox- the boys from Boston scored another worst-to-first season this year, doing it once before in 2013 (where they won the World Series, you may remember). The Sox have much to be thankful for: they've got two incredible starters, between offseason pickup David Price and the should-be AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello; they've got three players with over 30 home runs: Hanley Ramirez, the unexpected AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts, and the man who is having one of the most sensational final seasons of all time, David Ortiz, who leads the team with 38 homers. When this team gets rolling, it's an offensive juggernaut- scoring the most runs in the majors with 878, outscoring the next best team in baseball (Colorado) by 23, and the next best in the American League (Cleveland) by over 100. With an improved, but still- let's say enigmatic- rotation and bullpen, look for the Sox to make waves this postseason, as they try to win their fourth World Series in 12 years, and hopefully send Big Papi out on a high note.
Washington Nationals (95-67), NL East Champions
Next, we've got the Washington Nationals, my sleeper pick to win the World Series this year. The Nats won only one World Series title while they were the Senators, and never came close when they were the Montreal Expos. This year could change all that. With Max Scherzer leading the charge now that NL Cy Young candidate Stephen Strasberg is out due to injury, the Nationals bring to the table an under the radar, explosive offense that could prove troublesome for their NLDS opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, particularly in the form of offseason pickup Daniel Murphy, who hit home runs in six consecutive playoff games for the Mets last year, although he hasn't started since September 17th due to a butt injury. You've also got Bryce Harper, who is far and away one of the best all-around players in baseball. Don't let the big name Cubs and Red Sox draw your focus away from this underappreciated team this October.
Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71), NL West Champions
At the All-Star Break, the Los Angeles Dodgers were six games out of first place in the National League West. Here we are in the first weekend of October, where they won the division by four games over the San Francisco Giants, clinching in late September on a walk-off blast on Vin Scully's final game broadcasting from Dodger Stadium. Now that ace Clayton Kershaw is back from injury, the Dodgers can give it another solid run at a World Series championship. Their last title came in 1988, when they beat the A's, four games to one (see Gibson, Kirk). A player flying under the radar this year is Josh Reddick, who has a great ability to get hot when it matters most for a stretch of time. Given the fact that this team has been plagued with injuries, it's impressive that they've made it this far.
Texas Rangers (95-67), AL West Champions
Next, the Texas Rangers, who are also looking for their first World Series title, after posting back-to-back American League Pennants in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers have the one-two punch of Cole Hammels and Yu Darvish, who hasn't had a chance to show off in October yet. Second baseman Rougned Odor is one to watch, and players like Adrian Beltre, who has single-handedly put the entire team on his back with 32 homers and 104 RBIs. Take a look at reliever Matt Bush as well, if you want a feel-good story. Bush was the first overall pick at shortstop for the San Diego Padres back in 2004. Drinking problems forced him to take a hiatus from the game, and he was put in prison in 2012 due to multiple DUI's. Bush, entering his rookie season as a converted pitcher at the age of 30, has the ability to be lights out, striking out an average of one batter per inning this season. The Rangers are the American League's top seed. Don't be surprised if they win their first title this year, either.
San Francisco Giants (87-75) & New York Mets (87-75)
Now, we have the four Wild Card teams. The San Francisco Giants, while blowing that huge division lead to the Dodgers, have won every World Series that has taken place on an even-numbered year in this decade (2010, 2012, and 2014). They're in the playoffs again, with Madison Bumgarner looking to summon the one-man work horse that won the Giants the 2014 Series against Kansas City. Their opponents, the New York Mets, faced off against those same Royals in the World Series last year, ultimately losing in 5 games. This year's Mets team has one less Daniel Murphy and a few less pitchers, with stud Jacob DeGrom going down with injury. However, the team can still rally behind players like P Noah Syndergaard and OF Yoenis Cespedes. How fun would an NLCS rematch be if the Mets were to get through to the NLDS and face the Cubs?
Baltimore Orioles (89-73) & Toronto Blue Jays (89-73)
In the American League, we have two teams who came up just short in the AL East- the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. These two franchises have represented the division the last two years in the ALCS. Toronto has a fantastic lineup, which features last year's AL MVP Josh Donaldson, the ever-popular Jose Bautista, catcher Russell Martin, the long ball hitting Edwin Encarnacion, and local Superman, outfielder Kevin Pillar. The Jays also feature Aaron Sanchez, who lead the American League in ERA this season with a solid 3.00. It should be mentioned that the Blue Jays also feature J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada, who also place in the top 15 in the American League in pitching. Their opponents, the Baltimore Orioles, live and die by the home run. Case and point: O's DH Mark Trumbo, who has hit a whopping 47 this season for the team, with teammate Chris Davis coming in with 32. It's also worth noting that their closer, Zach Britton, converted in every single save opportunity that he was presented with this season, with a 0.54 ERA this season. If Baltimore catches fire, watch out.
Now, the fun part. Here are my predictions for the 2016 Major League Baseball Postseason:
Wild Card Round:
AL- Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays- Tuesday, October 4th @ 8:00pm (TBS)
Starters: Chris Tillman (BAL) vs. Marcus Stroman (TOR)
You live by the home run, you die by the home run. Stroman will be able to pick apart the Orioles' offense, and pitchers like Marcel Osuna will shut the O's down in the late innings. Tillman hasn't been the same since he's suffered all that shoulder inflammation and the Jays will jump all over it. Toronto moves on to Texas.
NL- San Francisco Giants at New York Mets- Wednesday, October 5th @ 8:00pm (ESPN)
Starters: Madison Bumgarner (SF) vs. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
I really, really like this matchup. It will be a pitching duel if I've ever seen one. Bumgarner has had to pitch on the road before, beating the Pirates in Pittsburgh, and Syndergaard is still ready and willing as ever. I see a low scoring game, something like 2-1, with the Mets making a mistake in the late innings. Giants win this one, and rumblings begin to stir as the Giants could win their fourth World Series since 2010.
Winner: San Francisco.
ALDS- Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays- Begins Friday, October 7th (TBS)
Toronto leads season series, 4-3.
I don't really care what the season series is. What matters is that the Rangers are the most underrated team in the American League for these playoffs, and when they make quick work of the Blue Jays, everyone will see exactly what we're dealing with here. I say Toronto gets one back at home, but the Rangers finish them off relatively quickly.
Prediction: Texas wins series, 3-1.
ALDS- Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox- Begins Thursday, October 6th (TBS)
Boston leads season series, 4-2.
The Red Sox come out strong in this first round, and the Indians with their array of injuries, have a lot of trouble stopping them. Everyone will be surprised when Cory Kluber beats Rick Porcello in Cleveland in Game 1, but David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Clay Buchholz will show solid outings, en route to a 3-1 series win for the Sox. With Cleveland's pitchers like Carrasco and Salazar injured, Boston should be able to lay on the hurt. Red Sox clinch at home. Ortiz has a clutch home run at some point this series.
Prediction: Boston wins series, 3-1.
NLDS- Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants- Begins Friday, October 7th (FS1)
Chicago leads season series, 4-3.
On paper, this series looks incredible. You've got the MadBum against the Bleacher Bums and their team, the Cubs. However, this is 2016, and it's literally just that. With Bumgarner out after pitching in the Wild Card game, the Giants will have to use other members of their rotation, which just isn't scary. The Cubs rotation, however, is quite scary. The Cubs throttle the Giants in game one at Wrigley Field and never look back, ending the Giants' hopes for a World Series title.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 3-0.
NLDS- Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers- Begins Thursday, October 6th (FS1)
Los Angeles leads season series, 5-1.
We have the Dodgers, who have Clayton Kershaw, and the Nationals, who counter with Max Scherzer. After that, it's Rich Hill (LAD) against Tanner Roark (WAS), then Kento Maeda (LAD) vs. Gio Gonzalez (WAS). Unfortunately for the Nationals, the loss of Stephen Strasburg will prove fatal, as the team's injuries prevent the team from grinding against their NL West opponents, particularly taking into account the lack of play from Daniel Murphy and the loss of Wilson Ramos. It'll be close, but I think the Dodgers pull this one out.
Prediction: Los Angeles wins series, 3-2.
League Championship Series
ALCS- Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers (TBS)
Season series tied, 3-3.
A precarious matchup, if I do say so myself. Can the Red Sox keep themselves from imploding against this Rangers team? Can the Rangers control this mighty Boston lineup? I think we'll get some brilliant pitching duels in this series, between Price, Porcello, Hammels and Darvish. It'll all be up to the rest of the pitching staffs to keep the series under control. One thing the Red Sox need to learn to get right before this series is to keep the bullpen locked down so as to secure any slim, late game leads. And with closer Craig Kimbrel effectively useless in non-save situations (but also in pretty much all situations, who are we kidding), they need to make sure that if they get a lead, they keep it. Texas' 36-11 record in one-run games is a league best. Boston is 20-24 in those games, the worst among all 10 playoff teams this year. This will be a season-defining moment for both franchises, although I think the Red Sox have more to lose here.
Prediction: Boston wins series, 4-3.
NLCS- Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (FOX)
Chicago leads season series, 4-3.
Chicago's pitching staff and lineup are just head and shoulders above the rest of the National League. They can and will attack you from both and offensive and pitching standpoint. After Kershaw, who is still nursing and injury, the Dodgers have some pretty capable pitchers, but the Cubs rotation and bullpen is just too strong. Even if Arietta's performance has dropped off, Hendricks and Lester lead the NL in ERA, and John Lackey is a postseason-tested veteran. Conspiracy theorists rejoice- the Cubs are sweeping their way to a World Series.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 4-0.
2016 World Series
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs (FOX)
Teams did not play each other this season.
Well, baseball purists, here ya go. Your World Series dream matchup. Think about it. Doesn't the thought of this series make you salivate? We've got the original curse-breakers, the Red Sox, who, since breaking the Curse of the Bambino back in 2004, have won two more World Series titles, and are looking for their fourth in 12 years, against the Chicago Cubs, a franchise not exactly familiar with postseason success, because their entire existence has been wrought with misery, disappointment, and bad karma. They are looking for their first World Series championship in 108 years, after capturing their first League Pennant in 71 years. This will be a series that all who watched will remember forever. Both clubs are ingrained with the lifeblood of Theo Epstein, who guided the Red Sox to their World Series win in 2004. I predict a seven game slugfest, featuring incredible pitching performances and offensive showcases. When it comes down to it, I believe the Cubs are the all-around better team. They're good and deep enough to make a playoff run of this length. They're young, scrappy, and hungry, and they're not throwing away their shot. That's not to say that I don't think that 108 years of Billy Goats and Bartmans will come back to haunt them. The Red Sox are a lot better offensively. But as I've said from the beginning, their instability at the pitching position will be their doom. In a baseball season full of surprises, only one can prevail. Either the city of Chicago wins, Theo Epstein becomes the greatest general manager of all time, and every goat in Illinois can be put to rest, or the city of Boston wins, and David Ortiz gets to walk to Cooperstown with a fourth ring on his hand, an exclamation point at the end of an illustrious career. Which feel good story do you prefer? The Cubs win this one, sparking the greatest celebration in not just the history of sports, but the history of America. The world, even.
Prediction: Chicago wins series, 4-2.
Who's your pick to win the World Series? Leave a comment down below.
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