For the first time since October 10, 1945--when Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser blew out the Cubs in the deciding seventh game--Wrigley Field will be home to a World Series game. Three of them, in fact, as a weekend full of baseball in Chicago kicks off tonight. Tickets are still available, assuming you're willing to sell your first born, ink a deal with the devil, and stand for nine innings next to some other crazed and significantly less financially stable Cubs fans. It'll be an amazing environment.
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Game 2 won't be displayed in any museums, and in particular Lonnie Chisenhall would probably like to forget it ever happened.
Let’s all admit something: Game 2 was a clunker. This game was the first car you have in high school. You’re pleased to have a car, because any car in high school is great, but every time you pick up your friends you worry it won’t start and you’ll need a tow. It’s better than the rusty bike you had, which also was better than walking, but if a rich kid in your class drove by, you’d feel self-conscious.
Indians ace Corey Kluber was masterful in his first career World Series start, giving the Cubs no chance to beat him.
There are certain games in the postseason, particularly in the World Series, whose results seem scripted from the first pitch. I’m not trying to suggest that the postseason is rigged or anything fishy, of course; it’s more that some games have a feeling of inevitability about them. Baseball is a sport that, if nothing else, is wont to punish feelings of inevitability with wild upsets, but even here, there are those games that, in the third inning, make you sit back and say “Yeah, I think I see where this one is going.”
Did the Indians ride Andrew Miller too hard? Did the Cubs use the right hitters? Game 1 offered plenty of chances to second-guess.
There was a wealth of strategic intrigue surrounding Game 1 of the World Series before it even began. Jon Lester started for the Cubs, so there was the now-familiar chatter about how the Indians planned to use his difficulty in controlling the running (if it can even be fairly called that) against him. Kyle Schwarber returned to the Cubs’ lineup after a sojourn of some six months, from an operating table to a grueling rehabilitation process to the Arizona Fall League, but there was some uncertainty as to how ready to return he really was, and where Joe Maddon could place him in his lineup in order to maximize Schwarber’s impact.
It’s finally here! The World Series kicks off tonight with Game 1, and two long-storied franchises with histories of futility and new-school front offices will face off. There’s narrative aplenty here--if you want more on that, check out Aaron Gleeman’s overall, seven-game series preview, breaking things down from every angle--but now it’s time to talk up the primary actors for Game 1. That starts with the two ace starting pitchers: Corey Kluber and Jon Lester.
In one corner, the immovable object that is the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year championship drought. In the other corner, the unstoppable force that is the Cleveland Indians’ 68-year title-less streak. Something’s got to give!
Why haven't opposing teams and managers, including the Indians and Terry Francona, done more to exploit Jon Lester's throwing problesm?
The last time he faced his former manager, Jon Lester spun an old-fashioned gem, in an old-fashioned Monday afternoon game at Wrigley Field. It was August of 2015, and the Cubs were hosting the Indians in a wrong-footed getaway-day game, forced into the schedule on what had been an off day for both teams after rain washed out a contest in June.
Lester pitched 8 ⅔ innings and nearly beat the Tribe 1-0, but ended up allowing the tying run before departing. Kris Bryant won the game with an opposite-field walk-off home run in the next half inning. The character of Lester’s effort was strange, though. He scattered six hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen over his long outing. It’s not normal, in today’s MLB, for a pitcher to allow nine baserunners in a start and still nearly complete the outing with just a single tally on the board.
It took Theo Epstein and company exactly five years to rebuild the Cubs into the best team in baseball.
On October 22, 2011, the Chicago Cubs announced the hiring of Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations. Epstein, only 37 years old at the time, was already considered one of the greatest baseball executives in recent history and a potential future Hall of Famer. Five days later, the Cubs hired away Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod from San Diego as Epstein’s top lieutenants.
Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout, two-hit innings against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS, which combined with his starter/closer act in the NLDS convinced even the most stubborn holdouts that his poor postseason reputation was overblown and perhaps just flat out erased. And now, less than a week later, he'll take the mound at Wrigley Field against a 103-win team with the Dodgers' season on the line in an elimination game. Something tells me Kershaw's playoff rep isn't set in stone quite yet.
Chicago breaks through against Los Angeles' bullpen, taking a 3-2 lead back to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have had a not-so-quiet concern this postseason, an unsure refrain that has been repeated by analysts, fans, and (we can only assume) the team itself, an anxiety to characterize the flipside of baseball’s best regular-season team--namely, what if they can’t hit good pitching?