The Commish Online                                                                                
Red Sox and Cubs - Is This the Year?
September 26, 2003

With the White Sox folding like a house of cards the past two weeks, only two of the three teams known for their failure to win a World Series for most of the 20th century remain alive in the playoff hunt.  Boston is in and the Cubs have a 50-50 chance of getting in with just a few games remaining.  With the unparalleled hitting of the Red Sox and the phenomenal starting pitching of the Cubs, is it possible that we just might see a rematch of the 1918 World Series, ensuring that one of these teams will finally win another World Series?

This week's topic:
Red Sox and Cubs - Is This the Year?

Bunker: Not a chance!  Even if the Cubs sneak in, there's no way both of those teams can make it all the way to the series.  The Twins are hotter than anyone right now, Oakland's pitching can stymie the Boston lineup, and the Yankees hold an advantage over the Red Sox that can't be explained in the context of this argument.  As for the Cubs, they will also be entering as one of the "lesser" playoff teams, so the odds of BOTH of these jinxed teams making it to the World Series are slim to none, and slim just hopped on a plane to New York to get comfortable before the World Series begins there in a few weeks.

Dewey: While it's not the most likely scenario, I think this year is as "up in the air" as any in recent memory, making a Red Sox - Cubs World Series a definite possibility.  In fact, I wouldn't even find it that surprising because there doesn't seem to be an untouchable team this year.

B: I agree with the parity issue, but you have to look at the teams we are talking about.  The Cubs always find a way to lose and will probably figure out a way to miss the playoffs.  Boston puts together decent teams, but always finds a way to break their fans' hearts.  A matchup between the two just can't exist in this world.

D: Now you're arguing with emotion and not with the facts.  The facts are that Boston has put together one of the greatest hitting teams EVER, and coupled with Pedro and Lowe, they can also compete on the pitching side.  Oakland won't be able keep up offensively, the Twins lack the overall talent to take a series from Boston, and the Yankees are a year older and a little banged up.  The Cubs have potentially the best starting pitching in the National League, and their manager was in the World Series last year, so he knows what it takes.  Atlanta and San Fran are certainly beatable, and Florida is unproven.  If Sosa gets hot, the Cubs can pitch their way into the series and let Sammy carry the offense.

B: Nice arguments, but you're forgetting, with baseball teams residing from Chicago and Boston, you don't have to look at the facts.  The only fact that matters is that these teams can't win the big one.  A hard luck pitcher, a ground ball through the legs, a collapse after a 2 game playoff lead, a late inning home run, a tornado, a typhoon, an earthquake - something will always cause them to lose.

D:  You can't compare past failings with current teams when the only thing they have in common is the team name on the jersey.  These Cubs are a new breed and expect to win.  Their manager is the same way.  Same goes for the Red Sox.  Theo Epstein has put together a winning ballclub on paper, and the emotional leaders like David Ortiz have seen the vision through.  No one in that clubhouse is thinking about Bill Buckner or all of the years the Red Sox have fallen short of catching the Yankees.  This year's team believes it can win, and that's what matters.  You are trying to use a media perception and apply it as reason.

B: It's not just a perception, it's a time tested proof.

D: You are making it sound like they never win anything.  The Red Sox have had decent clubs the past ten years and did make it to the World Series in '86 and '75 as everyone knows.  Although it's been 57 years since the Cubs last made it to the Fall Classic, they have a chance to make it to the playoffs for the fourth time in less than 20 years.  In baseball, if you're not the Braves or Yankees, that's not too shabby.  Remember, only one team can win it every year, so even the average franchise is only going to win every thirty years.  In this particular year, assuming the Cubs hold of the Astros, it's not ridiculous to state that the Red Sox and Cubs each have a 1 in 4 chance of reaching the World Series.  You may argue that it should be a little more, perhaps giving better odds to the Braves, Giants, and Yankees, but with Anaheim and Florida winning in recent years, it's not always the most talented that wins it all.  My point is that 1 in 4 is a lot less than 1 in 30, demonstrating that Boston and Chicago have already done the HARD part.  Now they've increased they're chances to almost 25%, so with a little luck, they could make it.

B: But that's just it - these teams don't get the luck when they need it.  Something will happen, I guarantee you.  It's what keeps the world in balance - the Cubs, White Sox, and Red Sox are cursed, the Yankees spend with success, and other teams trying to replicate their feat fail miserably (Texas, LA, etc.).  It's what makes the baseball world go 'round.

D: Once again, you're comparing past to present and future, and you just can't do that.  These are different players, different talented players, and different teams.  Curses, bad luck, and all that other voodoo make for a good story but they don't help evaluate a ballclub.  You can make lighthearted conversation about the Curse of the Bambino or the Billy Goat Curse, but you can't use it as your primary reasoning in your argument.

B: You may think that now, but just wait until the playoffs start.  When the Cubs and Red Sox are ousted in dramatic fashion only to shatter the dreams of their fans everywhere, then you will start to believe in the real "facts."

The Commish's verdict:  Dewey
It's always hard to argue with the Curse of the Bambino, seeing as how it's been about 85 years since the Red Sox last hoisted a World Series trophy despite having some good teams, but it's hard to argue with cold hard facts.  Dewey's best points were explaining the 1 in 30 odds of ANY team at the beginning of the year (assuming equal talent) and how Boston and Chicago have already overcome those odds.  Now it's a crapshoot for the 8 teams left.  While a Boston - Chicago matchup is unlikely, the nod goes to Dewey for his winning argument.