CUBS LOOK TO END CENTURY OLD DROUGHT * TITLES AND ‘WORLD CHAMPIONS’ MAKE LITTLE SENSE * AMERICAN FOOTBALL IS BACK!*
By Ted Lerner
Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series crown in 108 years. Yes, you read that right. Theodore Roosevelt was the president of the US back then, your great grandfather was still in awe of these new technologies called the telephone, airplanes and radio, and women and blacks in America weren’t even close to getting the right to vote.
That’s a long time ago indeed.
But 2016 has brought more hope than ever to long suffering Cub’s fans. The Cubs have been baseball’s best team by far in this long 162 game season. At the time of this writing, the Cubs were 94-53 and were the first team to clinch a playoff spot by winning the National League’s central division.
This means the Cubs won’t have to play a wild card playoff and can rest up for the big run to baseball’s championship. And they are definitely looking like they are going to be very tough to beat. In every category such as defense, fielding, starting pitching, relief pitching and of course, offense, the Cubs have been awesome this year. They seem like a team destined to go all the way.
Certainly with the weight of a 108 year old drought weighing heavily upon their shoulders, the Cubs will be under immense pressure to not choke. Baseball is a slow moving game where the pressure can build to be unbearable. Especially in the playoffs.
Still, however, you’d be foolish to bet against the long suffering Cubs. Indeed the odds say the Cubs have the best chance to win the World Series in November. According to website Fangraphs, the Chicago Cubs have an 18.5% chance of winning the World Series in 2016 — better than all other teams in Major League Baseball. The odds don’t always tell you what’s going to happen, and a one-in-five shot certainly isn’t a sure thing, but with the next closest team coming in at just 12.8%, it’s hard to bet against the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs World Series Champions? Sounds about right on paper. But I’ll believe it when I actually see it.
Did you notice that I didn’t say that should the Cubs win the World Series that they would be “World Champions?”
Many of my fellow American sports fans have this annoying habit of referring to the champion of any of our major sports leagues as “World Champions.” This was very common when I grew up and it is still pervasive to this day. Every time the Celtics or Lakers would win the NBA championship, the announcers would say, “The Celtics are the new world champions!” Same in football, baseball and hockey. Many of these sports teams actually have banners hanging from the rafters in their arenas saying they are “World Champions.”
Unfortunately for my fellow American sports fans, this bluster is simply not true. Basketball, baseball, and hockey all have separate world championships where countries compete against each other for a universally recognized…except in the United States…World Championship. As for American football, yes the Super Bowl winner is surely the best team on the planet. But they are not officially a “World Champion” because they didn’t win the “World Championship.”(There is no World Championship for American football because not enough countries play the game.)
As for baseball’s World Series, there’s a bit of an urban myth going around suggesting that the event got its name because the New York World newspaper was one of its major sponsors back in the early 1900’s when the “World Series” was first played. But a bit of research proves this to be a big time falsehood.
"There's no evidence suggesting it was ever sponsored by the New York World newspaper," said Hall of Fame researcher Eric Enders. When the World Series between the National and American leagues began in 1903, the owners borrowed the name from the world championship series held in the 1880s between the National League and the American Association.
Enders concludes the name didn't originate from the name of the long-defunct newspaper. Instead the name World Series was just an easier way to say World Championship Series. In other words, even over a century ago, American promoters and writers were overstating things just a tad.
Yeah, admittedly we Americans tend to like our hype. And we are pretty good at it too.
Speaking of Grade A American hype, there’s not much of it needed when it comes to American football, which kicked off in late August.
People refer to baseball as America’s pastime. But football is America’s life blood. Football is easily the most popular sport in the land and fans simply cannot get enough. Whether it be watching high school, college or pros, football will be all pervasive over the next 5 months in America, with rabid fans following every play of their favorite teams.
Why is football so popular in America? For one, it’s a game we all played growing up, whether it be backyard games or in organized leagues.
And, as you may have guessed by now, we Americans love our violence. American football is a seriously violent game. Outsiders and rugby fans may scoff that the players wear pads and helmets. But this actually makes the game more dangerous. In American football, you don’t have to have your feet on the ground to be the recipient of a massive hit. As soon as a receiver puts his hands on the ball, he’s fair game. And with the helmets on, players feel more free to hit more violently. There’s nothing quite like some seriously sanctioned and organized violence to take your mind away from your miserable life!
Yet another reason American football is so popular is that it is the perfect sport for gambling. Some people suggest that betting on football is THE reason that football is so popular, and certainly an argument could be made for that. But I’d say the betting aspect comes a close second to the violence. Anyway, betting AND violence are two good draws any day of the week, don’t you think?
As for me, living overseas has somewhat tempered my enthusiasm for football because I find it difficult to follow on a day to day basis. Last January, however, I found myself back in the States for a few weeks and this was just in time for the NFL and College playoffs. A big game was on every single day and I got caught up in the hype and excitement of some seriously good games. I realized yet again how much I love some good football.