Before the start of the World Series I briefly explained my rationale for supporting the Cleveland Indians. Game 7 is upon us and most fans probably have a rooting interest by now, so what follows is likely an exercise in futility. But if you’re one of the few undecided rooters out there then you’ve come to the right place because I’m about to explain why you should root for the Cleveland Indians tonight instead of the Chicago Cubs. I’ll start by pointing out a glaring misconception.
1) The Indians are more “cursed” than the Cubs.
The Curse of the Billy Goat is more famous than some baseball teams. Though it’s indisputable that the Cubs have suffered since this hex was placed in 1945, you can’t argue that they’ve suffered more than the Indians.
For starters, the Indians failed to make the playoffs every season between 1955 and 1994. This remarkable string of irrelevance was worse than it sounds because the Indians only had eight winning seasons in that span. To make matters more frustrating, Cleveland was on the verge of making the playoffs in 1994, but the season was cut short by the strike. Granted, that may have been a blessing when you consider some of the colossal collapses Cleveland experienced in subsequent Octobers. For example:
- In 1997 the Indians led the Florida Marlins 2-1 in the Bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the World Series. Cleveland closer Jose Mesa proceeded to blow the save (courtesy of a game-tying sacrifice fly from Craig Counsell) and Florida eventually won the game in the 11th inning (with Craig Counsell scoring the winning run). To put it another way, the Indians came about also close to winning a World Series as you can get without actually winning a World Series.
- In 1999 the Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the American League Divisional Series versus the Boston Red Sox, only to lose the next three games and the series.
- In 2007 the Indians again faced off against the Red Sox, this time in the American League Championship Series. Once again the Indians grabbed a commanding series lead (3-1), but Boston won the final three games by a combined score of 30-5 and captured the pennant.
Keep in mind that is only a partial list. Also keep in mind that the Cubs have a mythos behind their suffering that engenders sympathy. The Cleveland Indians simply lose in agonizing fashion because that’s what they do. This agony is enhanced by their small market status, which brings me to my next point.
2) Chicago will have plenty of future opportunities
The Chicago Cubs are a big market goliath that can spend as much money as they want. Since 2015 they’ve signed pitcher Jon Lester to a $155 million contract, outfield Jason Heyward to a $184 million contract, and still had plenty left over to sign super-utility player Ben Zobrist to a $56 million deal.* This type of spending is why people hated the New York Yankees during their (somewhat) recent dynasty, but I digress. The point is: if the Cubs do not win a title this year there will always be next year – especially with Theo Epstein running the show. And while “wait ’til next year” is a common refrain, “next year” has a completely different meaning for a wealthy behemoth like the Cubs that can extend their window of success by buying the best free agents on the market. Conversely, small market teams like the Indians can’t do that; and thus have shorter windows because they rely on long-term strategies like player development and savvy trades. Cleveland is fundamentally set up to experience infrequent greatness, so we should root for them to succeed during this rare run at glory.
*As a point of reference, the Milwaukee Brewers have only signed one free agent (Matt Garza) to a $50 million deal in their entire history.
3) Cubs fans always invade Miller Park and it’s incredibly annoying
Any Milwaukee Brewers fan that’s been to a Cubs game at Miller Park knows what I’m talking about. It’s a free country and all of that good stuff, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it when tens of thousands of Cubs fans invade Milwaukee. Moreover, whenever I watch a Cubs road game – including this World Series – I notice the thousands of Cubs fans in attendance. This reminds me of how Cubs fans invade Miller Park, and thus the cycle of annoyance is complete. At the very least a Cleveland victory tonight will preserve the “1908” rejoinder for Brewers fans. It’s not much, but it makes attending those games slightly more tolerable and is another reason to root for Cleveland tonight.
Ultimately you can root for whomever you want for whatever reason you want. I take that back: you really should root for Cleveland tonight. It’s the most sensible thing to do.