The Kansas City Royals are World Series Champions. They will remain World Series Champions for a little longer. But in a few weeks, either the Cleveland Indians from the American League or the Chicago Cubs from the National League will be World Series Champions.
Look: the Royals didn't even make the playoffs, so it's unrealistic to be torn up about the new champion. There is a new champion every year. Since the Royals' inaugural season in 1969, there have been only five times in which a team has won back-to-back championships: the 1972-1974 Oakland Athletics, the 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds, the 1977-1978 New York Yankees, the 1992-1993 Blue Jays, and the 1998-2000 Yankees. In today's baseball landscape, it hasn't happened in 16 years. The back-to-back American League Championships we've seen is not the norm, but a rare treat. Savor it. But don't be mad that others are having their time.
So...who should we root for? If you say, "nobody," then fine. Go back to your Bud Light and chicken nuggets and think about how boring you are. But for the rest of us, this is a conundrum. This is not your average Series. Cleveland hasn't won a World Series since Harry Truman was president. Chicago hasn't won a World Series since said Harry Truman was 24 years old. Cleveland had comedy movies made about how awful their baseball team was. Chicago had the sad fall of Steve Bartman.
Here's why you should root for Cleveland...or Chicago.
Why you should root for the Indians
by Matthew LaMar
Royals fans, and Kansas City fans in general, love their own teams. When forced to pick, though, between two other teams in a match not featuring the Kansas City squad, there are a few traits that are prized: underdoggedness, pain of the franchise and city, small-market existence, and a strong community. Only one team fits all those traits, and that team is very clearly the Cleveland Indians and not the Chicago Cubs.
First off, regardless of other factors, the Cubs are the favorites for the series. Chicago scored more runs than Cleveland and allowed fewer runs than Cleveland during the regular season. They are a behemoth, the only team in baseball to win more than 100 games since the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies; they are captained by the Cursebuster himself, Theo Epstein, and manned by three-time Manager of the Year, Joe Maddon. The Indians are not likely to win this series, and that should be plenty of reason to root for them.
Second, Cleveland is not a sports-blessed city. They are the city whose famous 52-year championship-less streak was only broken this very year by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland Browns play there. The Indians haven't won a World Series in forever, and the nicest thing you can say about the city of Cleveland itself is that it's not Detroit. It is the embodiment of small-market.
Chicago, on the other hand...well, do you know about the Chicago White Sox, who won a World Series in 2005? Or a guy named Michael Jordan, whose Chicago Bulls won six NBA Finals in the 1990s? Or the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cup Finals in the last 10 years? Don't forget that Chicago is an international tourist destination and one of the largest and most important cities in the world. Forgive me for not feeling sorry for Chicago, ever.
But the biggest reason why to root for the Indians is that these Cubs are going to be good forever, and the poor Indians don't deserve to be the initial fodder for most annoying time in baseball history. Oh sure, the Cubs winning the World Series would be cool. This year. But what happens when the Cubs continue to be awesome? That's gonna happen, you know. They're young and their ownership has infinite resources. In five years, we could be looking at the beginning of a dynasty, a dynasty with a national following on par with the New York Yankees and the fake, goody-goody Midwestern attitude of the St. Louis Cardinals. Everyone will be a Cubs fan and it will be terrible.
So do yourselves a favor and root for Cleveland, whose last championship happened when Martin Luther King, Jr. was a teenager. Somebody is going to be happy. It should be Cleveland.
Why you should root for the Cubs
by Max Rieper
Let's face it, pretty much everyone in this country not from northern Ohio is going to be rooting for the Cubbies. Why not join the bandwagon? And there are pretty good reasons too. They are the loveable losers. They haven't won a championship since Teddy Roosevelt was President. Think about how miserable the Royals championship drought was. Now multiple that by three and add an extra two decades on top of that. Cubbies fans are looooong-suffering. And who doesn’t want to see Dorothy Farrell, the 90-year old Cubs fan who has never seen her team win a championship, celebrate with Jagermeister?
Not only have the Cubs had a long championship drought, but they have failed to win a championship in some of the most heart-wrenching ways possible. In 1969, the Cubbies were in first place for 155 days, and carried an 8.5 game lead by mid-August. A black cat happened to walk by Ron Santo on the on-deck circle at Shea Stadium, and that bad omen is attributed to a historic collapse that gave the Mets the division title. In 1984, the Cubs led the NLCS 2-0 against the Padres until first baseman Leon Durham allowed a groundball to skate under his glove, opening the door to a Padres rally, the first of three straight wins for San Diego to win the pennant. And of course there is 2003, when the Cubs led the NLCS 3-1 over the Marlins, and were up 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game 6 before a young fan named Steve Bartman was mistakenly blamed for an eight-run collapse when he tried to catch a foul ball in the stands hit by a Marlins player.
You don’t even have to sympathize with the Cubs to root for them. Not only do the Cubs happen to share two enemies with Royals fans (the Cardinals and White Sox), this is a very likable team. They have Ben Zobrist, who was about the most popular man in Kansas City last fall for his post-season heroics and his adorable family. They have Mike Montgomery, a former Royals farmhand who never got to play in Kansas City, but wondered "what if" after seeing his old team celebrate last fall. The Cubs have Kris Bryant, your likely National League MVP and one of the most exciting young players in the game. They have Javier Baez, who has been insanely good in the playoffs this year and is a rising star. They are bunch of fun-loving guys who do this, and this, and this. In a lot of ways, their clubhouse chemistry reminds me of our Royals.
And they have built a team the way many of us would like to see a team built. The took a mediocre team, razed it to the ground, invested heavily in player development, made some shrewd trades, and topped it off with free agents to put the team over the top. Yes, their payroll is one of the highest in baseball, but they did draft or develop six players including Bryant and Baez, and found many gems before they hit it big with trades, like Addison Russell, Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, as well as Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon.
I have nothing against the Cleveland Indians. They are a long-suffering fanbase as well, a group of fans that had to suffer through Duane Kuiper and Len Barker and Wayne Garland and Brook Jacoby and bad trades and worse free agents and a terrible, empty mausoleum of a stadium for many years. And then when they did build a juggernaut of a franchise – a team that just dominated baseball for most of the 90s – that team couldn’t even win it all. I lived in Ohio in 1997, when Edgar Renteria hit a ball that glanced off Charles Nagy’s glove. I saw the anguish of Indians fans firsthand.
But this year it is all about the Cubs. They won by far the most games in the regular season this year, and who doesn’t want to see greatness rewarded? They are a team of destiny, a team that books will be written about for generations. Theo Epstein killed the curse in Boston, he can do the same for the Cubbies. Having the Cubs win it all would be the sports story of the year, putting baseball front-and-center in the nation’s consciousness.
A Cubs championship would make millions of Midwesterners happy, from Skokie, Illinois to Clarinda, Iowa. It would be a thrill to all of those fans that grew up watching Harry Caray on WGN, or admired Ernie Banks for wanting to "play two" or heck, just feel bad for all the awful ways the Cubs have lost over the years. The Cubs have waited long enough. It is their turn and they deserve our support.