Playing Cubbies and Indians

My wife is upset.

My wife is upset because she is a hardcore Cleveland Indians fan and her team is in the World Series.

Now, why would this be upsetting, you ask? She should be thrilled. It’s been 19 years since the Indians have made it. They’ve won their postseason series with guts and guile, a tribute to their bullpen and Terry Francona’s management.

Well, my Cleveland-born wife is upset for one reason: their opponent.

The Chicago Cubs.

You may have heard that the Cubs haven’t been in a World Series since 1945. Whole generations have passed since that team lost in seven games to the Tigers. Indeed, there are people who celebrated their 70th birthday this year, only to die before the Cubs clinched the National League flag Saturday night.

And forget about actually winning the World Series. The last time that happened, as more than one person has joked, the Ottoman Empire was still around. William Howard Taft hadn’t even installed his extra-large bathtub yet.

So the Cubs, needless to say, are the sentimental favorites for much of America. This is unfair to the Indians, who haven’t won a world championship since 1948. Which means that my wife, whose Indians lost a hard-fought series to the Braves in 1995 and were victimized by Jose Mesa and that pesky Craig Counsell in 1997, has also never seen a World Series-winning Cleveland team.

What’s more, I’m to blame for some of it. In 2007, the Indians had a 3-1 lead in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. Since I love baseball and exciting games, I was a bit saddened that the series was likely to end in five. So I uttered six fateful words: “I just want a good series.”

Rule No. 1: Don’t fuck with the baseball gods, especially when Cleveland’s involved.

Much to my horror and my wife’s chagrin, the Red Sox took the next three games and soon their second World Series of the 21st century. Cleveland fell back into mediocrity until rebuilding led to the current squad. My wife rarely fails to remind me that it’s my fault. (I’m sorry, Sarah!)

What’s more, as she observes, nobody loves Cleveland. For all its problems, Chicago remains the City of Big Shoulders, the Metropolis of the Mid-Continent, the home of great architecture, great comedy and great restaurants. Cleveland, even after LeBron James led the Cavaliers to the NBA championship, is still the “Mistake on the Lake,” the Factory of Sadness, the place where both the river and the mayor’s hair once caught on fire.

And does Chicago even need a baseball championship? The White Sox won in 2005. Does nobody remember that?

Anyway, my wife is convinced that the baseball gods are once again conspiring against her beloved Indians, and even if they aren’t, she’ll have to put up with bandwagon-jumping Cubs fans. (Nobody jumps on an Indians bandwagon.) Like a true Clevelander, she’s thinking dark thoughts, as if reliving the decades of Sudden Sam McDowell, big-haired Oscar Gamble, Super Joe Charboneau and the Sports Illustrated 1987 Baseball Preview issue all over again.

So rally ’round, gang. Credit to the Cubs for making the series, but you know they’ll be back. It’s time for Cleveland to take home the title and put the ghosts of 1948 to rest.

Go Tribe!

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