Cavs won NBA title, so it’s only fair for Cubs to win Series
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OK, Cleveland, slow down your motor.
You think you can win everything?
You think you can be a city of champions and just toss Chicago out the side window at 90 mph like a balled-up hamburger wrapper?
Just because LeBron James brought his talents back home — for our purposes, Akron (his birthplace) is a subdivision of Cleveland — and the Cavaliers won the NBA championship last spring, that doesn’t mean you casually can add the World Series crown to your once-dusty trophy case.
Sure, you’ve got the Browns, an NFL franchise so sorry for so long that they make the Bears seem like Microsoft. But Chicago has . . . the Bears.
And winning the World Series would mean so much to the Cubs.
Let’s compare last winning the World Series in 1948 to, say, 1908. Not really close, is it?
Seriously, for a place such as Cleveland, which has gone through the pangs of deindustrialization and population exit, abruptly to be the king in two of the three major U.S. pro sports might change its vibe incongruously.
Could such victories help build the damaged city’s infrastructure, its job prospects? Who knows? It’s all psychological, the boost a place gets from winning at a sport. But psychology runs the world. Don’t forget, the stock market goes on wild bull runs from sheer optimism and bear nosedives because of nothing more than fear.
Chicago is a damaged place, too. There are financial lists in which Chicago and its mothership, Illinois, are at or near the bottom of the 50 states.
It’s still hard to conceive of the Cubs in the World Series after 71 years away. Maybe it’s tough in Cleveland, too, but the Indians were there in 1995 and 1997. That’s yesterday in Cubs time.
One thing that should stick in every Cubs fan’s craw is that the Indians have the home-field advantage, even though the Cubs had the best record in baseball. There will be two games at Progressive Field, then three at Wrigley Field, then two there. (The last three games will be played only if needed.)
This is a result of former commissioner Bud Selig deciding it would be a good thing if the All-Star Game actually meant something and declaring the league that won that event would get the home-field advantage in the World Series.
Who would have thought the National League’s 4-2 loss to the American League on July 12 in San Diego would mean so much to the Cubs? Even though the NL started an all-Cubs infield and there were three more Cubs on the team, the lineups meant nothing.
For the record, the Indians had but two All-Stars — shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Danny Salazar — and neither was a starter. And Salazar has been out for some time with an elbow problem and isn’t certain to play in the Series.
It might be appropriate to mention the Indians’ depleted rotation here. Corey Kluber is an ace, but Carlos Carrasco is out for the season, Salazar is dubious and Trevor Bauer — my God, he’s bleeding everywhere.
Bauer got 10 stitches in his right pinkie after — you can’t make this stuff up — he was sliced by one of the tiny propellers on his personal drone. He had to come out of his start in AL Championship Series in the first inning when the stitches fell apart and he started dripping blood like a stuck pig.
Meanwhile, every Cubs player is healthy. This is incredible. Even knee-rehabbing slugger Kyle Schwarber might play as a designated hitter in the games in Cleveland.
So I would offer that if this isn’t the Cubs’ year to win it all, then the earth doesn’t spin around the sun.
Which brings us back to Cleveland, the place that would deny the Cubs something that few — if anybody — alive has seen: a World Series title.
Dare I say this? Cleveland, city of solid Midwestern folks, take a knee.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.