Here we are – Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. The Cubs, undoubtedly, have momentum (if we assume that momentum is a real thing), but the Cleveland Indians have home field advantage in what should be one of the best concluding games in modern postseason history.
Regardless of the outcome, much will be made of the championship droughts by the Indians and the Cubs. The Indians have the second-longest drought in Major League Baseball at 68 years, while the Cubs are sitting at an amazing 108 year drought. Of course, if we go by city, Cleveland has the shortest drought in all of the major sports, having just won an NBA title in June. To some people, that might imply that the Cubs deserve this world series more, that they need it more than the Indians.
Well, to that point, if championships in other sports count, let’s look. Since the Cleveland Browns last won a championship in 1964, here is a comprehensive list of the championships won by Cleveland sports teams:
-Cleveland Cavaliers (2016)
By the same token, let’s look at Chicago, and all the championships they’ve won since 1964:
Chicago White Sox – (2005)
Chicago Bears (1985)
Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2014)
You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not playing the world’s smallest violin for Chicago fans at the moment.
But forget city championships – there are certainly baseball fans, certainly fans who only care about the Cubs just like there are fans who only care about the Indians. Among this group of people (and I count myself, because I’d give up a Cavs championship in an instant for a World Series pennant), Cleveland fans are undoubtedly the most tortured.
Cubs fans have the ghost of the Steve Bartman incident hanging over their heads. That’s the incident that kept them from reaching the World Series, then winning 4 games against the AL team. Yeah, Steve Bartman was the sole reason that the curse in Chicago continued.
Let’s just forget that literally any fan would have reached for that ball if they were in that seat.
Let’s just forget that the umpires ruled (correctly) against fan interference because the ball was over the stands.
Let’s just forget that the Marlins scored 8 runs after the Bartman incident (that was a foul ball, not a hit or anything).
Let’s just forget that the Cubs then lost Game 7, too.
Cubs fans were so upset about Bartman that they lobbed death threats his way, and he had to go into hiding, and he’s still not comfortable being seen in public to this day. When you think about it, objectively, it’s really a sad situation, and Bartman seems like a tragic figure who was in the wrong place at the wrong time — mostly because he was.
But what about the Indians? What heartbreak do their fans carry with them?
Everyone knows about Jose Mesa and the 1997 World Series Game 7 – but how many Indians fans share something akin to my story?
I was 9 years old in 1997 – I vividly remember being sent to bed because it was a Sunday night and there was school the next day. I also remember being woken up at whatever-time it was to watch the final inning because the Indians were finally going to win a World Series.
You all know what happened – I don’t need to remind you.
But nothing will ever compare to that gut punch I got in Game 7 in 1997.
I would have rather not been in the World Series at all than have to suffer through that.
So the next time someone tells you that the Cubs deserve it because it’s been so long, I want you to remind them of 1997 Game 7, and how it scarred a generation of Cleveland fans.
Tonight – Today – Tomorrow (depending on where you are), the Indians have a chance to make it all right.