Wednesday, October 14, 2015

EXTRA: Cubs win at home? Not really; not yet no matter what fans say!

I’m having the same reaction now that I had when the Boston Red Sox won a World Series in 2013 and everyone was going on and on about the historic significance of the fact that the final game was at Fenway Park.

The last (and only) time a Chicago ball club won a World Series at their home ballpark came on Oct. 14, 1906 when the White Sox achieved victory at the old South Side Park just south of the current U.S. Cellular Field. And yes, that was the World Series where the Sox beat the 116-victory Chicago Cubs 4 games to two.
I thought the fact that Red Sox fans got to storm their own home field really didn’t matter all that much. The fact that it had been 95 years since that had last happened was no big deal.

I ACTUALLY LOOKED it up, and found that the Cleveland Indians haven’t won a World Series at their home field since 1920, while the Chicago White Sox only did it once – in 1906 when their final game against the Chicago Cubs was at the old South Side Park  (at what is now Pershing and Wentworth avenues).

And as for the Cubs? Their only two World Series victories (1907 and 1908, both times against the Detroit Tigers) came in Michigan, rather than the old West Side Grounds that is now the University of Illinois Medical Center.

They’ve never won a final game at home, to have fans tearing up the turf while ballplayers jump all over each other in a big pile before tearing off to the team clubhouse to douse each other with champagne and have the baseball commissioner present the team president with a rather uninspired-looking trophy.

That is the factual basis of the people going on and on saying that Tuesday was significant because the Cubs won their first postseason series at Wrigley Field – ever.

Chicago is long overdue for a World Series that doubles ...
THAT LITERALLY WAS the headline on the back page of the New York Post on Wednesday, along with a cutline saying that one-tine broadcaster Harry Caray would have been “proud” of the celebration Cubs fans conducted following their 6-4 victory Tuesday night that advances the Cubs to the final round of the National League playoffs against the winner of New York Mets/Los Angeles Dodgers.

That last sentence is what makes me think all of the hullaballoo over the Cubs’ victory is much adieu over nothing.

Cubs fans are going on and on as though they already have reached a historic achievement, when they really haven’t won a thing yet!

... as a City Series, to settle city supremacy for the 21st Century
All they have done to this point is match the same level of play they achieved in 2003 – when they made it to the final round of National League playoffs before losing to the then-Florida Marlins. Actually, made it to being within one game of winning that round – before all that Bartman nonsense crept its way into Cubs lore.

CONSIDER THAT IF the Cubs do lose to the New York/Los Angeles winner in the final playoff round that begins Saturday, history will record that the ’15 Cubs were no better than St. Louis, Pittsburgh or the New York/Los Angeles loser.

Nobody will think that the Cubs achieved something significant by winning the pompously-named “National League Division Series.” There won’t be an NLDS pennant flying over Wrigley Field next year.

The years 1945 (last National League championship) and 1908 (last World Series title) will still retain their significance. Going around acting as though your team has already won what matters is the best way possible to tempt fate and ensure that the baseball “gods” do wind up smiting the Wrigley Field scene for yet another year.

Besides, I can’t help but think that the hard-core of Cub fandom really cares where the final game of a championship season is played.

BACK IN 2005, the Chicago White Sox took their own championship dreams even though the division clincher (in Detroit), division series winner (in Boston), league championship (in Anaheim, Calif.) and World Series win (in Houston) ALL came on the road.

Lost last game of '06 series, yet still a Hall of Famer
I don’t think anybody seriously thinks less of that championship year – which was the first for a Chicago ball club in the life of anyone under age 60. Actually, that status will remain – even if the Cubs do manage to beat the New York/Los Angeles winner, then the best of the American League to win a World Series.

And as for White Sox fan-dom, their reaction if the Cubs do wind up prevailing this year will be something along the lines of, “It’s about time, ya losers!”

Then we can start wishing for a World Series that doubles as a City Series – so we can settle the White Sox/Cubs debate for the 21st Century – just as that 1906 series (with the Cubs losing to the Sox four games to two) set things for the 20th Century.


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