I Ain’t Even Mad

The “what-ifs” linger. What if the rain had held off until after the game? What if Grandpa Ross hadn’t hit that homerun? What if Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis had been a millisecond quicker on the 9th inning Aroldis Chapman meatball he lasered foul down the first base line? What if Andrew Miller’s stuff had been just a bit better? What if, what if, what if?

They are empty questions. “What-ifs” are roads which dead-end to empty cul-de-sacs. The Chicago Cubs won. They won three straight elimination games (yes, yes, I hear the karma: “Cleveland blew a 3-1 lead”).  They took two in Cleveland against the best Cleveland had to offer. Game 7 saw Chicago finally break through against Kluber, Miller and Shaw. It would be disingenuous to say the Cubs didn’t deserve to win.

Since Trevor Bauer’s “bloody finger” game in the ALCS, Cleveland had been sailing through the playoffs on a leaky raft lashed by hope and grit. There was no real expectation Ryan Merritt would hold Toronto’s offense scoreless. The odds were against Josh Tomlin stealing World Series Game 3 in Wrigley. It seemed unlikely that Corey Kluber, pitching three times in nine days, would give Cleveland a puncher’s chance to fell the best team in baseball.

Yet Cleveland did all those things. Through 63 innings of World Series baseball, Cleveland had matched Chicago punch-for-punch. That was one hell of a fun Game 7. Perhaps an all-timer. Yes, it didn’t end in Cleveland’s favor, but its hard to complain about the quality of the ride.

When Chicago finally did break through in the 10th inning of Game 7, it wasn’t because of rain or awful umpiring or any curse. There was no Jose Mesa blowing it against the Marlins. Chicago won the World Series because they were the better team. I picked them to win all the way back in April. I re-affirmed the pick at the start of the playoffs

[Quick side note: fellow Spitter writer and part-time soothsayer Scott Fendley predicted exactly how the World Series would end. In our playoff predictions podcast, he said, and this is a direct quote: “Cubs over Indians in the World Series… It will go 7 games and it will come down to the Cleveland staff stretching to its limit due to injuries and the Cubs taking advantage of the Indians’ middle relief in Game 7.” Go buy a lottery ticket, Scott.].

So its a little difficult for me, despite how badly I wanted Cleveland to win, to be angry with the outcome of the World Series. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I angry? No. I predicted the Cubs to win time and again and they did. Outside of Marlins Man’s bitching (probably because Jacobs Field cameras don’t show attention-seeking assholes behind home plate), the fans’ tenor remained civil. Mostly it felt like Cleveland and Chicago fans were in it together: both seeking a Championship Oasis after a lifetime wandering the desert.

And unlike Toronto, where Joey Bats gave himself a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease (or should I say, “shaking boots in mouth“), the Cubs are a likable bunch. I like Anthony Rizzo. I like Kris Bryant (and his dreamy eyes). I mean, how can you root against a manager who’s motto is “Try not to suck?”

The Kansas City Royals mitigate any lingering bitterness. The Royals, built around youth and speed, fell to the Giants’ “Even Year Magic” in 2014 before besting the Mets for the 2015 MLB crown. Perhaps Cleveland, another AL Central club built around youth and speed, needed to lose to the Cubs’ “Bill Murray Magic” before besting the Mets in the 2017 World Series (calling it now).

Cleveland’s offensive core is under team control through 2020. They’ve already exercised their option on slugger Carlos Santana. The pitching staff–Andrew Miller included–are under contract through 2018. Perhaps Michael Brantley returns next year. Perhaps outfield ace Bradley Zimmer makes a splash for the big league club in 2017. Perhaps the front office, much like Kansas City’s after their 2014 loss, brings in a piece or two. Probably not, but maybe.

I can’t be angry. Baseball’s best team won the 2016 World Series.

2017? We’ll see. When do pitchers and catchers report?

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