It’s official now – the Cleveland Indians have clinched the American League pennant and the Chicago Cubs have earned the National League pennant to advance to the 2016 World Series. (Note Game 1 was Tuesday night, Oct. 25, after press deadline.)
The Indians dismissed the Toronto Blue Jays from the AL Championship Series in Game 5. Cleveland won the series 4-1.
And the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series in Game 6. Chicago won the series 4-2.
Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948 after beating the Boston Braves 4-2. The Chicago Cubs won their first crown in 1908 against the Detroit Tigers 4-1.
Cleveland and Chicago have the two longest title droughts in the majors, but Cleveland is considered the underdog in the World Series. Chicago is promised to be the sentimental favorite to win its first world championship since 1908. All the media coverage will center on the Cubs, the “Billygoat” curse, the genius of Joe Maddon, and young star Kris Bryant.
But after everything they have been through since the start of spring training, the Indians believe that they are built to go the distance. First, they were picked to finish behind Kansas City in the American League until they began a 14-game winning streak in late June and never relinquished it. Secondly, they were perceived as props for the grand finale to the David Ortiz farewell tour in the Division Series. The Indians outscored the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series 15-7. The Indians held the Red Sox to a .214 team batting average in the three-game sweep. And of course, the Indians were determined to win the AL pennant regardless of Toronto’s intimidating line-up that included Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. They held the Blue Jays to a .201 batting average and eight runs – five of them in Game 4. Also, this was Toronto’s only win in the series.
One thing is for sure, this World Series promises to end either Cleveland’s or Chicago’s drought.
Now, over to the WNBA – after a dramatic and controversial 77-76 victory in last Thursday’s deciding Game 5, the Los Angeles Sparks won the 2016 WNBA Finals. The Sparks won the series 3-2 over defending champion, the Minnesota Lynx. Nneka Ogwumike’s short jumper with three seconds left ticking, off the rebound of her blocked shot, gave the Sparks the win. Candace Parker had 28 points and 12 rebounds to earn the MVP honors of the Finals and her first WNBA title. Parker emotionally dedicated the victory to the late Pat Summitt, the longtime Tennessee basketball coach.