Where did this Cleveland team come from ? To come into the Friendly Confines and take two games from our beloved Cubs to take a dominant 3-1 game lead in the World Series. They have come and stolen the thunder from the team that was supposed to exorcise all of the curses and in the process bring joy to masses that were so happy to see Chicago in the World Series for the first time in 71 years. They have silenced the crowd and drove it back to a dark place of doubt and misery.
Cleveland came from the tepid AL Central, a division where the reigning World Series Champions, the Kansas City Royals, managed only a 500 record this year and home to the Majors worst team, the Minnesota Twins. They won 10 less games than the Cubs but got home field in the World Series through the anomaly of the American League’s All-Star game victory. They also came with their own baggage of futility, not having won themselves since 1948.
After splitting at home, they came into Chicago with a vini, vidi, vici mentality, led by a manager who was perfect in World Series play, an ace who had won the Cy Young two years ago, and a middle reliever acquired mid-summer who has been dominant in the post season. Together, playing awfully loose with nothing to lose, this team has come in and taken it to the Cubs, who it now appears, may have been just happy to have gotten to the Series at all.
Being down 3-1, the Cubs need to look at the exception rather than the rule to draw inspiration from teams that have overcome the huge obstacle. The 2004 Red Sox (down 0-3 to the Yankees and the only team to win 4 straight to win a series), The 1996 Braves, who beat the Cardinals, the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Baltimore Orioles with their “We Are Family” anthem.
The team they shouldn’t look at is the 2003 Marlins, who of course, beat the Cubs. The turning point of that series is the infamous Steve Bartman incident. They don’t need to study that for it is too painful a memory.
But perhaps the team they should try to emulate the most is the 1985 Kansas City Royals, who pulled off the feat twice, once in the ALCS against the Blue Jays, and then again in the World Series against the Cardinals. In the ALCS, Kansas City won the final two games in Toronto.
There is still hope, even if it is faint.