Polling Place: Which World Series winner was better, the 2005 White Sox or the 2016 Cubs?
Also: 1996 Bulls vs. 1985 Bears. And which “weekend” of the NCAA Tournament is best?
Maybe White Sox fans simply smelled blood in the water.
Or maybe the 2005 Sox were just that good.
Either way, “Polling Place” has spoken and — who can argue with the science of a Twitter poll? — declared them better than the 2016 Cubs.
An upset? Those World Series-winning Cubs had a regular-season run differential of plus-252, to the World Series-winning Sox’ plus-96.
Those Cubs had a best-in-baseball ERA of 3.15, miles ahead of the second-place Nationals’ 3.51, and one of the best defensive seasons on record.
The Cubs had Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, who finished second and third, respectively, in National League Cy Young voting, and Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, who finished first and fourth, respectively, in NL MVP voting. The Sox had Mark Buehrle (fifth) and Jon Garland (sixth) on the American League Cy Young list and Paul Konerko (sixth) in the AL MVP race.
Those Sox are noted for leading their division from wire to wire — a rare feat, indeed — but the Cubs were in second place for all of one day (and had a better April than the Sox, anyway) and won more games, 103 to 99.
An upset? Well, some would say so. But not nearly enough in this case.
As the vote totals neared 1,000, the Cubs held a slight lead of 51% to 49%. A few hundred votes later, it was a Sox blowout.
Upshot: The Good Guys destroyed their division mates with a 52-22 record and were as close to perfect as it gets in the postseason. The starting staff delivered. Konerko belted a grand slam for the ages. There was a 14-inning classic. Jermaine Dye did the MVP thing. Nearly 15 years later, Sox fans on Twitter are still fired up about it.
Upshot: Are we the only ones who are surprised at the lopsided nature of these results? And can our brave city withstand such an affront to its greatest football squad? Seriously, the Bears were so strong defensively that opponents were held to 10 or fewer points in 14 of 19 games (playoffs included). Postseason aggregate score: 91-10. But the Bulls were outrageously dominant, too, clearly.
Upshot: What makes college basketball’s postseason wonderfully unique is that peak excitement builds around the biggest upsets, whenever they occur. We all remember Loyola’s glory in 2018 and previous runs to the Final four made by Wichita State, VCU, Butler and George Mason. None of those teams won it all, but it hardly seems to matter.