After two games, the Chicago Cubs have resembled a team worthy of being the ‘consensus’ pick to win the 2016 World Series. The team boasts an incredibly deep, versatile and balanced line-up. It feels surreal to objectively state the Cubs have the best line up in all of baseball…and to have that opinion shared by a majority of baseball observers. The Cubs’ pitching staff, though not as deep, is also universally regarded as one of baseball’s best. It feels rather bizarre…doesn’t it?
I am sure the fandoms of the 29 other MLB franchises are already tired of hearing about the Cubs. I would imagine two in particular: 1). the attendance and attention starved, constant chip on their collective shoulders squad on the south side. 2). the self-proclaimed best fans in baseball, who hail from the mecca of racial peace and harmony that is St. Louis, Missouri. The majority of those two groups will mutually be rooting against the Cubs every day…and will take great joy if the Cubs fail to win the 2016 World Series. Conversely, the bulk of Cubs Nation will be despondent, dejected and communally crying out “not again!” or “why us?”
I will not be among them.
I know what you are thinking…well of course Chris… you just want to add another chapter to your critically acclaimed book Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats: 108 Reasons Why It’s Been 108 Years!
Nope…that’s not why. (However, if you feel like telling 10,000 of your friends to buy my book after that shameless plug…I won’t stop you.)
My actual reason is simple…historically it’s been really hard to win a World Series…really, really, really hard. Winning a World Series is particularly difficult if you are not the Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox, A’s or Dodgers.
Since its commencement in 1903, the World Series has been played 112 times. (RIP 1994) An abundant amount of attention is given to the fact that the Cubs have not won a title since 1908. I can’t argue with how ludicrous that drought seems…yet if one digs deep into World Series numbers…there are teams that are debatably as futile as the Chicago Cubs….or just one rung above them on the historically awful ladder.
The Yankees (duh) have the most titles with 27…which equal 24% of the total World Series championships. The Cardinals (boo!) are second with 11, followed by the A’s at 9, Giants and Red Sox with 8, and the Dodgers with 6 respectively. Thus, if you combine the top 6 teams in terms of titles won (Yankees, Cardinals, A’s Giants, Red Sox and Dodgers) they have won 69 championships…or 62%. Consequently, in only 38% of MLB seasons has a team other than the Yankees, Cardinals, A’s, Giants, Red Sox or Dodgers won the World Series. Therefore, according to baseball history, the odds are against you if you aren’t one of those teams. A clearer image of the long odds of winning a World Series emerges as one delves deeper into World Series history. Let’s take a look at the teams other than the above six… slotted into some nice little groupings:
These franchises have all been part of Major League Baseball since 1903. Many of them have changed names, or relocated, but they have had 112 years of continuous opportunities to win a World Series….the results?
Reds 5-112, Pirates 5-112, Tigers 4-112, Braves 3-112, Orioles 3-112, White Sox 3-112, Twins 3-112, Cubs 2-112, Phillies 2-112 and Indians 2-112.
Once again…yes the Cubs’ drought is pathetic…but these franchises are just as inept or just nominally better. For example, I have lived through both of the Phillies titles, and all three of the Orioles…therefore prior to 1968 these teams were traditionally bad. Seven teams have played 112 seasons and won three titles or less! Call it rationalization, but looking at these numbers puts World Series Championships in a different perspective. These figures are a bit depressing…a franchise such as the Detroit Tigers…with a history of Hall of Fame players and great teams…have only won four World Series titles in 112 years.
THE MIDDLE-AGE EXPANSION TEAMS
These franchises have been around approximately half as long as the “originals” and their historical records are fairly inept:
Angels 1-55, Rangers 0-55, Astros 0-54, Mets 2-54, Royals 4-47, Nationals(Expos) 0-47, Padres 0-47, Brewers 0-47
Yikes! Only three of the eight have won a World Series…and they have seven titles out of 406 combined seasons. Perhaps I live in a Cub-centric bubble, but I don’t recall ever hearing about the Rangers or Astros going 50 plus seasons without a title?
THE MARINERS AND THE BLUE JAYS
Both of these teams joined the league in 1977, and one of them has had respectable historic success:
Blue Jays 2-39, Mariners 0-39
THE YOUNG EXPANSION TEAMS
Arriving in 1993 and ‘98 respectively, these teams have served as a source of embarrassment to Cubs’ fans as ALL four of them have at least been to a World Series. Perhaps the arrival and relative quick success of these teams has further sullied the Cubs’ dismal past. However, shouldn’t the Indians, Rangers or Astros be lumped in the same shame cycle?
Rockies 0-23, Marlins 2-23, Diamondbacks 1-18, Rays 0-18
The point of these statistics is not to dispute the fact that the Chicago Cubs have been traditionally proficient at losing. None of these teams above have a 108 year championship drought…and if that is the sole measuring stick, then yes, the Cubs are the suckiest sucks that ever sucked. However these numbers display that the Chicago Cubs are not the only team that has found winning a World Series to be a daunting task. If the Chicago Cubs do not win the World Series this year, Cubs’ fans should avoid viewing the season through a fatalistic lens.
Of course I want the Cubs to win it all this year…yet I have vowed to enjoy the season no matter what the end result. The present and future has never appeared this bright for the Chicago Cubs…and unlike in previous sporadic winning seasons…I am confident the championship window will not be closed after 2016.
…and I really don’t want to add another reason to my book.