The 2016 Major League Baseball postseason is arguably the most poetic that this or any generation has seen since 1903 when the first World Series was played.
With the San Francisco Giants having been eliminated by the Chicago Cubs last Tuesday, Major League Baseball is now left with three season-ending possibilities that will tug at the heartstrings of any baseball fan. Baseball fans with a poetic sensibility have never had such a feast.
After a rough second half of the season following the All-Star break, the chances of the Giants even making it to the playoffs were slim, but their hopes were kept alive in large part due to the wild card. Giants fans everywhere rejoiced when Conor Gillaspie took the New York Mets closer deep in the ninth inning to give the Giants a 3-0 unanswered lead in the National League wild card game and advance them to the National League Division Series against the Cubs.
Having won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and then topping the Mets, it seemed only fitting that the Giants move on and continue winning to keep their recent tradition of being crowned champions every other year. Unable to overcome the Cubs, #BeliEVEN was stopped short this year when the Giants were eliminated in four games.
Now baseball fans are left with the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays to potentially be crowned the best baseball team in the world. With the exception of the Blue Jays, each of the three other teams taking home the trophy would be not only historic, but entirely poetic.
Let’s start with the Indians. The last time they won the World Series was in 1948 over the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves. Cleveland won an impressive 111 games in 1954 behind the pitching of Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Bob Feller. The Indians’ good fortune was short-lived as they lost four straight to the New York Giants in the World Series that featured “The Catch” by Willie Mays, better known as “The Say Hey Kid.”
Lack of winning did not just fall on the Indians, though, as the Browns have not won an NFL title since 1964 and the Cavaliers (NBA) had never won a championship until they powered past the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 season. Before the Cavaliers brought the trophy home, winning had been virtually foreign to the city of Cleveland.
The possibility of the Indians advancing to and winning the 2016 World Series would be a fairytale ending to 2016 for “Believeland.”
With the Dodgers’ incredible payroll and Hollywood personalities, baseball fans as a whole await the day that the Los Angeles team can successfully make it through the playoffs and advance to the World Series.
The Dodgers haven’t won the championship since 1988 when MVP Kirk Gibson hobbled around the bases in Game 1 of the series after hitting a pinch-hit, walk-off home run. Making it to the playoffs seven times in the last decade, the Dodgers seem to be due.
What would make their potential championship-winning season truly awe-inspiring is the recent retirement of the longtime voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully. His 67-year broadcasting career with the organization dates back to when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. A world championship would be the perfect farewell to the beloved Scully.
Finally, and what seems to arguably be the most poetic of all, would be if the “Cubbies” bring the trophy home for the first time since 1908. The Cubs won countless National League pennants leading up to 1945, but the streak ended there due to the “Curse of the Billy Goat.”
In Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, Bill Wrigley, of Wrigley’s bubblegum and the Cubs majority owner, asked Billy Goat Tavern owner Bill Sianis to leave Wrigley Field because his goat was causing an unpleasant odor in the park.
Upon being ejected, Sianis said, “The Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” It is said that Sianis put a curse on the Cubs, and they have not won a National League pennant since.
They came close in 2003 when they were just five outs away from winning the National League Championship Series in Game 6. Chicago had a comfortable 3-0 lead over Florida going into the eighth inning. The Marlins’ Luis Castillo hit a foul ball in the top of the eighth inning toward left field that was deflected by a Cubs fan, Steve Bartman. The Cubs’ left-fielder Moises Alou expressed his anger toward Bartman, convinced that he could have caught the ball, giving the Cubs their second out of the inning.
This led to additional errors in that inning and eight Florida runs and a Marlins’ victory as a result. The Cubs lost in Game 7 and failed to reach the World Series.
Of course, each generation has its own “this can’t be topped” postseason.
For the post World War II generation, the 1955 World Series may come to mind when the Brooklyn Dodgers put the “maybe, next year” mantra to rest by beating the hated New York Yankees in seven games. Jackie Robinson, who broke the MLB color barrier eight years earlier, led the Dodgers in his only World Series championship.
There was the lovable “Miracle Mets’” five-game victory over Baltimore in 1969, noted as one of the greatest upsets in history. And no one can forget the Boston Red Sox breaking “The Curse of the Bambino” in 2004.
But when it comes to both quantity and depth, no postseason in the history of America’s pastime can top 2016’s triple-play among Believeland, Scully and the Cubbies.