The last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Tinkers to Evers to Chance launched themselves on the path to immortality thanks, in part, to Merkle's Boner. Three-fingered Mordecai Brown and Ed Ruelbach paced the team with 29 and 24 wins, respectively.
The last time the Cleveland Indians won the World Series, Satchel Paige and Larry Doby helped to push baseball into the modern era. Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Lou Boudreau, and Joe Gordon gelled as team leaders and drove the club toward a title.
It's been a long, long time for both teams, both fanbases. Tonight at 8PM, the 2016 edition of teach team will square off at Progressive Field. One will leave with the Commissioner's Trophy, and the other will hibernate through a long winter until pitchers and catchers report.
Corey Kluber starts for Cleveland on short rest for the second consecutive start. He is having one of the best postseasons in the modern era of baseball. With a win, he will become the first pitcher with three wins in a single World Series since Randy Johnson in 2001. He will also tie Johnson and Francisco Rodriguez for the most wins in a single postseason at five. On either side he his flanked by Andre Miller and Cody Allen. These three elite gunslingers stand between the Cubs and victory, ready for a showdown.
Kyle Hendricks starts for Chicago after pitching in game three. He enters on normal rest. He's been effective in several starts this postseason, though he has but one win to show for it. Teammates call him The Professor, in part, because of the cerebral approach he takes to the game. He shares this nickname with another pitcher who began his career on the north side of Chicago; one that also relied on location, control, and guile to eliminate batters; one who once snuffed out the Indians' hopes for a title.
It will be unusually warm tonight underneath the lights in Cleveland, and a fever runs through the entire city of Chicago. Regardless of the outcome, thousands of fans will pour into the streets just outside the winning team's stadium, the beginnings of a celebration decades in the making. One would end the longest single-team title drought in the history of American sports; the other would represent another triumph in a year of ascendancy for a city filled with fans who spent much of their childhoods recounting the various ways in which the Sports Gods wronged them.
Baseball fans everywhere deserve a well-contested, exciting finish to the 2016 season. We've said so long to once-in-a-generation slugger, David Ortiz; farewell to an electric young talent departed too soon, Jose Fernandez; goodbye to the greatest sports broadcaster of all time, Vin Scully.
Why not close it out with the greatest finish in the history of the game?
"The World Series title on the line here in the ninth at Progressive Field. Here's the wind and the pitch, it's — swung on and belted! To deep left field, a-way back! Gone!"