Fall Classic brings the heat for baseball fans

By Neal Klepitsch, Staff Writer

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As temperatures drop and days become shorter, baseball heats up more than the dog days of summer. The Intensity of every pitch and importance of every close call come into focus. Leading up to the World Series. National vs. American League: The Fall Classic.

A tradition over a century old and that has shown the world practically everything under the sun…or at least everything under a temperature-controlled dome. There is nothing like the World Series and the post season baseball preceding the 7-game classic.  This year the Boston Red Sox took it beating the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one.

Major League Baseball is a 162-game grind played over 6 months. The postseason is a mere fraction of that. Anything can happen and what supposed to happen often does not. Talent and teamwork will not win a World Series Championship. Luck is also needed. Favorites can fall, and Cinderella’s can win.

Division Series are best of 5 games and the League Championship and World Series are best of 7 games. And the addition of the one game Wild Card game in the past decade brings high stakes drama where losses often mean nothing in the regular season. Not the representation of a 162-game season that would be fair. A hot pitching staff or lucky hitter can sway the results.

In the 2015 National League Championship Series the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets played in what was predicted to be a tight series. The Cubs had won all 8 of the previous regular season meetings that year. It was not close at all. The Mets rode their unbelievable hot pitching staff into a four-game sweep. Along with Daniel Murphy beating unlikely odds and hitting a homerun in all four games of the series, Chicago never had a chance. Where did the hot bats of the Cubs go? How could a single player carry an offense? How could a team who won 8 straight against a single team just fall apart? Postseason baseball is the answer to all those previous questions.

The cruel nature of short series is just plainly part of baseball and the history of baseball. In other sports such as hockey where the NHL holds all rounds of the playoffs as 7 game series, it can be honestly said that the best team wins often, but baseball’s cruel postseason nature allows for championship droughts to foster unlike any other sport. And causing rational people to believe in curses as if Harry Potter was a non-fiction book series.

In 2004 the Boston Red Sox broke the “curse” of the Great Bambino beating the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-game sweep. It was Boston’s 1st World Series Championship in 85 Years. In 2016 the Cubs broke the curse of the Billy Goat winning their 1st world series since 1908, a 108-year drought.

If it was just easy enough to win without the curse of a farm animal hanging over a baseball franchise’s head the Cleveland Indians would not have tried to end a 70-year championship drought. Or it would not have taken the Philadelphia Phillies 77 years in between championships from 1903 to 1980. Or the other Chicago baseball team had a mighty drought of 87 years between 1917 and 2005. The White Sox ended over an 8-decade drought by sweeping the Houston Astros. Lifelong White Sox fan Connor Bowen said of the team it was: “Living proof that with the right preparation, attitude, and a bit of luck anything is possible…Seeing the Sox win the world series against the odds was unbelievably fun and was a moment I’ll never forget, It made years of frustration worth being a fan”

Multiple decades is a very long time to go without having a quality team without the capability or likable odds to win a championship. The truth is with every single multi decade drought, each of those franchises had years where the team that was fielded had all the potential to win a championship.

In the 108 years between the Chicago Cubs World Series championships, multiple Cubs teams had the talent and means to win a championship. The 2008 Chicago Cubs won 97 games and were the best team in baseball for much of the year. Gaining home field advantage in the postseason a favorable match-up against the Los Angeles Dodgers became a nightmare for Cubs fans as they were swept in the National League Division series. Not a single game was even close.

The Los Angeles Dodger last won the World Series in 1988. Not very long ago compared to the wait endured by Cubs and Red Sox fans, even Cleveland Indian fans have started to endure the pain of a multi decade wait. However, despite not winning the fall classic, since the late 1980’s, the Dodger consistently make the Playoffs. Since winning it all in 1988, Los Angeles has qualified for the Postseason 17 times.  It would be reasonable to believe the likelihood of the Dodges being able to win a World Series when qualifying for the Postseason 17 times in a 30 year stretch is probable. One mistake or bad officiating call can cost the season.