Both fan bases have endured long championship droughts. MLB futures odds say its the Chicago Cubs who see that come to an end against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
Just how different was life the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series? There are plenty of astounding facts and numbers, such as only 8% of US homes having a telephone, eggs about a penny apiece and the flu ranking as the leading cause of death. One number stands out above all, that being life expectancy at 47 years meaning most folks alive in 1908 weren't even expected to live to 1945, the last time the Cubs were even in a World Series.
Eggs were 64 cents a dozen and life expectancy had risen to about 64 years the last time the Cleveland Indians won a Fall Classic, 1948. They've been in three more since, most recently in the mid-90s when cell phones and the internet were only starting to gain a foothold.
Can Indians Continue Improbable Run To Title?
Cell phones and the internet are how most fans and baseball bettors alike follow the historic meeting in the 2016 World Series. Chicago, owner of the best record in the majors, is -210 chalk at Bookmaker to win four more games this year, those futures up from the opener despite many sports books reporting brisk business on the underdog Indians.
MLB odds back in the spring favored the Cubs to go all the way, and except for a slowdown in June-July, Joe Maddon's squad has delivered. Chicago cracked the best of the NL West in the playoffs, dispatching the Giants in a 4-game NLDS before beating the Dodgers in six.
Cleveland ranked seventh on the AL futures odds back in the spring, sitting behind teams playoff wannabes like the Astros, Royals and Yankees. The Indians, 10/1 American League picks in March, also trailed the Red Sox (4/1), who they swept in the ALDS, and the Blue Jays (5/1), dropped in a 5-game ALCS.
Are Cubs Most Complete Team Top To Bottom?
No club gets to this point without a lot of talent and at least a little luck; the Cubs and Indians have enjoyed both. Still, it's Chicago that has the deepest roster and plays the most complete game with its combination of pitching, offense and defense.
A huge edge in starting pitching goes to the Cubs, a rotation so deep it's going to be tough -- Impossible? -- for Maddon to get them all in. He only needs four, maybe even three, and Jason Hammels has been the odd man out in the playoffs so far. Jon Lester leads the mix and is the obvious choice to start Tuesday for Game 1 on his regular schedule. Maddon could go with Lackey in Game 2, saving Jake Arrieta for Game 3 back in Chicago where pitchers will hit. Oh yeah, MLB ERA champ Kyle Hendricks is in there, too.
Terry Francona's rotation was no slouch in the majors during the regular season, and it has been great during October as well (1.86 ERA in 8 games). Injuries kept it from having the star power of Chicago's behind Corey Kluber, though we could see Danny Salazar back in some form. Francona has been masterful using his 'pen, however, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen blowing the opposition away with 35 Ks in a 19.1 IP combined.
Each lineup is packed, Chicago fifth in the regular season in scoring (4.99) with the Indians eighth (4.83). Cleveland will run more, and we could see Francona go to that early. Chicago has the best defense, but not by much, and that's always the most overlooked part of the game.
My 54-year disdain for the Cubs aside, they have proven to be the best team this year and could be for several years to come. If you like them, my advice is to get some better odds on it happening in five games. I just can't do it, and will make my free baseball pick on Cleveland.