The Final Three


In baseball, hope springs eternal, especially in spring.  The fans of three franchises have exhibited remarkable patience waiting for a championship for their teams.  Now that the Red Sox and White Sox have recently reached the Promised Land, the Cubs, Giants, and Indians are the three clubs that have gone the longest without a World Series title.


The Cubs are known as the lovable losers, and it is very understandable why.  They have not been to a World Series since 1945, and their last World Championship was way back in 1908.  Popular legend is that after a Billy Goat was ejected from Wrigley Field during game 7 of the 45 series, the owner placed a curse on the franchise, and they have yet to return to the Fall Classic.


The Cubs have been close on other occasions, but have never made it.  In 1969 a black cat walked in front of their dugout during a crucial September series with the Mets.  They then collapsed.  In the 84 best of 5 NLCS, they won the first two games against the Padres and then proceeded to lose the next three games.  Then there was the memorable Steve Bartman Moises Alou bungled play in 2002 when the Cubs were 5 outs from the Series.  Once again, the inevitable collapse then occurred.


The Indians have managed to get to the World Series more recently, but their last World Championship was in 1948 when they defeated the Boston Braves in six games.   In 1954 they cruised to the AL pennant with 111 victories, and were heavily favored in the Series, but were swept by the NY Giants in 4 games.  They waited 41 years to get back, but were defeated by the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and the Florida Marlins in 1997.


The Giants last World Championship was in 54 against the Indians.  They lost a very exciting 7 game series to the Yankees in 1962.  They then waited 27 years, and were swept in 4 games by the Oakland A’s in the 1989 earthquake series.  In 2002 against the Angels, they have a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning of game six.  Dusty Baker took Russ Ortiz out of the game and prematurely gave him the game ball, thinking the championship was theirs.  It was a big mistake.  The Angels stormed back, winning game six 6-5 and taking the title the next evening.   


The Indians probably have the best chance of getting to the Series this season.  Their pitching is excellent, anchored by Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona.   Their bullpen is solid and they will have a potent offense, led by Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, and Travis Hafner.  Look for them to battle the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title.


With Lou Piniella at the helm, the Cubs will contend and look to improve on their 85-77 record.  They have a very strong rotation, with Carlos Sambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, and Jon Lieber.  The fifth spot is up for grabs.  With Alfonso Soriano, Derek Lee, and Japanese import Kosuke Fukodome in the lineup, they will have no trouble scoring runs.  They will just have to battle the jinxes that have befallen on the franchise since 1945 so that they finally can overcome their lovable losers tag.


The Giants will not contend, and are in a rebuilding mode.  They did not resign Barry Bonds, Omar Vizquel is on the disabled list, and they lost Pedro Feliz.  The only acquisition was Aaron Rowand.  There are question marks in the field and holes in the bullpen.  Their strength is in their rotation, with future star Tim Lincecum and young lefthander Noah Lowry.  They will need a much better performance from Barry Zito, who was a major disappointment in 2007.


There you have it.  The final three.  The fans have waited a long time, and the Indians probably have the best shot this year, but you can’t count out the Cubs.  You can count out the Giants.

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