In no more than 10 days, one of baseball’s longest-suffering fan bases will feel anguish no more.
Decades of torment, missed opportunities and bitter disappointment will be erased when either the Cubs or the Cleveland Indians clinch a championship in the 112th World Series, which begins on Tuesday night at 7:08 p.m. CST.
Neither franchise has emerged victorious from the Fall Classic for a combined 174 years, the largest drought in World Series history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 while the Indians haven’t been crowned champion since 1948. The previous record of 130 combined years was set in 2005 by the White Sox (87 years between titles) and Houston Astros (43).
“Cleveland is deserving of the World Series, too, so this is going to be a classic, two cities that have been in a long drought,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said late Saturday. “This is really good for baseball.
“It’s going to be amazing.”
The Cubs already have ended one longstanding drought with their victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. By reaching the World Series, the Cubs ended the longest stretch without a championship round appearance among franchises in the four major North American sports. Despite making the postseason seven times in the previous 31 years, the Cubs haven’t been to the World Series since 1945.
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Courtesy of last week’s American League Championship Series victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, the Indians are making the seventh trip to the World Series in franchise history. The Indians haven’t won the World Series in 67 years despite three previous appearances: they were swept by the New York Giants in 1954, lost to the Atlanta Braves in six games in 1995 and suffered a heart-breaking defeat in seven games against the then-Florida Marlins in 1997.
“What could be better for baseball?” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said. “We’re real excited. I have a lot of friends from Cleveland. I have a lot of respect for the Cleveland Indians organization. I’m anxious to get there.”
Though they’re ecstatic to be where they are, Cubs players continue to echo the sentiment that their mission isn’t yet complete. They’re not oblivious to what their fans have endured, the decades of suffering and generations who have come and gone without ever seeing a trophy. But rather than worry about the franchise’s agonizing past, veteran utility man Ben Zobrist said players must remain focused on the present.
“There’s a lot of pent up angst and emotion in this city, really all over the nation, Cubs fans that have been loyal through the years,” Zobrist said. “We know that. But the bottom line is you have to execute at the right time and stay here in 2016. These guys have done it all year long with all the expectations on our backs and we only have four more. We’re in the exact spot we wanted to be in and we have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in 108 years.”