Sunday, October 23, 2016

Joey's Soapbox: My 2016 Somewhat Biased World Series Pick

Never thought I'd see a World Series between the Cubs and Indians, but here we are.  (Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Hey, everyone!  This is Joey Beartran.  I'm supposed to be an expert at prediction postseason results.  There's only one problem.  I've been more wrong this year than I've been right.

I was half-right with my wild card game predictions.  (And of course, the one I got wrong was the Mets.)  Then I called for a Texas vs. Boston ALCS.  Instead we got Toronto taking on Cleveland.  Once we got to the American and National League Championship Series, I called for a Blue Jays-Dodgers World Series.  Oops again.

So now we're left with the Chicago Cubs going up against the Cleveland Indians and I have no idea who to pick to take home the trophy.  Neither team has a history of winning.  I mean, the Indians last won a World Series in 1948, when there were only 48 stars on the American flag.  And while the Indians were celebrating that last title, the Cubs were marking the 40th anniversary of their last championship team.

No matter who I pick, my success rate this year says that I will probably be wrong.  And I'm okay with that.  Because whichever team wins will have a fan base that'll be celebrating like it's 1948.  Or 1908.

And with that being said, let's move on to my World Series pick!

World Series

Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians

You've heard it on social media ever since the Cubs recorded the final out of the NLCS.  You know what I'm talking about.  All the things that didn't exist the last time Chicago played in a World Series.

The NBA didn't exist.  Neither did African-American participation in Major League Baseball.  Also, Alaska and Hawaii weren't states.  Fourteen current big league teams didn't exist.  The Baltimore Orioles were the St. Louis Browns.  The Braves hadn't yet moved to Milwaukee, which is where they were for 13 seasons before packing their bags for Atlanta half a century ago.  I had never eaten chicken nachos.  And the list goes on and on and on.

The Cubs won 103 games during the regular season, or nine more than the 94-win Indians.  It was the first time Chicago reached triple digits in wins since 1935 and their highest win total since 1910, when they emerged victorious in 104 of their 154 contests.

Chicago had the best record in baseball and should be favored to win the championship.  Or should they?

Let's do a little research here on teams that have won 100 or more games.

Here's a team with 100+ wins that won it all.  Wonder if the Cubs will do the same?  (T.G. Higgins/Getty Images)

Over the last 30 years (since the Mets won a major league-leading 108 games and the World Series), a total of 27 teams have managed to reach the 100-win plateau.  But only the 1998 Yankees (114-48 regular season record) and the 2009 Yanks (103-59) have been able to win a championship after their 100+ win regular season.  In fact, the last team to win the World Series after winning 100 or more games that wasn't from New York did it 32 years ago, when the Detroit Tigers parlayed a 104-win season into a World Series trophy.  (And not that it means anything here, but the Tigers were also the last team the play the Cubs in the World Series.  Detroit won.  Because of course they did.)

So for three decades, only the greatest postseason team in the history of the planet has been able to bring home a title when it had a relative cakewalk through the regular season.  That doesn't bode well for the Cubs.

Also, the Cubs haven't exactly breezed their way through this year's postseason.  They needed a four-run ninth inning rally against the worst bullpen in baseball to avoid a fifth and deciding game in the division series.  Then they were shut out by the Dodgers twice before rallying to take the NLCS.

Meanwhile, Cleveland has advanced without exerting much effort through the playoffs.  The Indians trailed, 2-1, in the third inning of Game One of the ALDS.  They never trailed again in their three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox.  Cleveland then never fell behind in Games One, Two and Three in the ALCS against Toronto.  The Indians lost their first and only postseason game of 2016 in Game Four, then followed it up with a shutout victory against the high-powered Blue Jays offense in Game Five.

So let's review.

The Cubs don't have history on their side.  The Indians have the hotter team.  (Win for the Indians.)

The Cubs were only 12 games over .500 on the road.  The Indians were 25 games over .500 at home.  And Cleveland has home-field advantage in the World Series after going 4-0 at Progressive Field during the American League playoffs, while Chicago went 3-2 on the road in the N.L. playoffs.  (Win for the Indians.)

The Cubs have Henry Rowengartner.  The Indians have Ricky Vaughn.  (Win for the Indians.)

The Cubs have so-so hot dogs.  The Indians have THIS!

Lovers of flatulence, behold this Cleveland hot dog delicacy!  (EL/SM)

Clearly, the Indians won the food battle as well.

So that's four wins for the Indians in four major categories, which is exactly the number of wins they need to defeat the Cubs in the 2016 World Series.  That also means you can add another year to the Cubs' championship drought.

Oh, and remember those 100+ win Cubs teams I mentioned 14 paragraphs ago?  (That's the 1910 and 1935 Cubbie squads, for those of you who are too lazy to scroll back up.)  Neither of those teams won the World Series either.

The curse of the Billy Goat preventing the Cubs from reaching the World Series may be over.  But the curse of realizing that they're still the Chicago Cubs will live on.

Prediction: Indians in 6.

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