2016 has been quite a strange year. So many unexpected deaths of celebrities, the presidential election in the United States, and now, for the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series. A big part of this is due to the work of President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Manager Joe Maddon, both who know a little bit about making history. Maddon led the Tampa Bay Rays to its first ever winning season in 2008 and brought the team to its first World Series that same year. Theo Epstein was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox when they won their first World Series in 86 years in 2004.
Combine their talents and the talents of the players that make the magic happen on the field, and you have a team heading back to the World Series for the first time in 71 years for a chance to capture its first title in 108 years. The Dodgers (the team the Cubs had to defeat to go to the World Series) were still playing in Brooklyn back in 1948. Their current manager wasn’t even alive yet.
A side note in this is how two elite pitchers in the game who were on the same team at the beginning of the season are now going to face each other in the World Series. The parties being referred to, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban flame thrower, and Andrew Miller, the side-winding slider specialist.
Both were apart of the three-headed beast that the Yankees had in the bullpen at the start of the 2016 season to close out games (along with Dellin Betances). But with the season not going the way many expected it to go for the Bronx Bombers, a decision was made in the front office to build for the future (as well as hope for the best for the remainder of the season), and that meant dealing some of their key players. In return for trading Chapman and Miller, the Yankees received an impressive looking team down in the farm system, and Chapman became the Cubs’ new closer, while Miller became the whatever-inning-he’s-needed-in guy for the Cleveland Indians. And both have proved to be necessary components to the rosters they joined and have gotten many big outs to lead their teams to the world series.
Chicago is complete pandemonium right now, but there’s still four game to be won either by the Cubs or Indians (Wild Thing Vaughn vs. Henry Rowengartner anybody?). After a Cavaliers NBA Championship, Cleveland is also looking for a World Series drought to end, the Indians last winning a title 68 years ago (1948) and its last pennant before this year coming in 1997.
This season has been a wild one, and this is one World Series you will not want to miss.
You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn.
(Image via Chicago Cubs Twitter account, Twitter.com/Cubs)