In spite of the fact that the Chicago Cubs finished the regular season with nine more wins (103) than the Cleveland Indians (94), the AL Central Division champs have home field advantage in the World Series as a result of the American League’s All-Star Game win... which... is... ridiculous.
But that’s how things work, so the 112th World Series beings tonight in Cleveland, Ohio’s Progressive Field where Jon Lester and Corey Kluber will go head-to-head in Game 1.
Both managers, Joe Maddon for the Cubs, and Terry Francona for the Indians, talked before the start of the series about focusing on winning each game instead of the history that’s made headlines as Chicago and Cleveland try to end long championship droughts for each of their cities.
“I think that would be something that's, you know, post-mortem,” Maddon said when asked about the Cubs trying to win their first World Series in 108 years.
“After you've actually done it, that's when you really dwell on that particular thought. In the meantime, I promise you, our guys are going to be in the present tense. I think we all have a tremendous amount of respect for history and what's happened before us or not happened before us. But, you know, you go in that room right now, they're very young, really not impacted by a lot of the lore, I don't think, other than the fact that we are impacted by our city and our fans and the people that attend our games and the conversations that we have, absolutely, an impactful moment.”
“They're going to be in the moment,” Maddon added. “That's what we've done, and that's all I preach. So at the end of the day, hopefully they'll be able to get this done, and at that point you can really reflect on everything and interact with the folks and really try to get down to the root of all of this. But in the meantime, man, I really anticipate and expect our guys to stay right in the moment.”
Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series since 1948.
Francona was the skipper for the Red Sox when they won the World Series in 2004, bringing a championship to Boston for the first time since 1918.
He said history won’t be on the Indians’ minds when they take on the Cubs.
“I know that's a really cool thing for fans to talk about and stuff,” Francona explained.
“It really doesn't enter into what we're doing. It's so hard to win anyway. We'll put all our energy into tomorrow, see if we can beat Lester, and whoever follows him, hopefully. Then if we win, we'll move on. If we lose, we'll move on and try to win the next day.
“I just think if you look too far back, you look too far forward, you miss what's right in front of you. So these players have earned the right to try to see if we can beat the Cubs, and that's going to be a tall enough task. But I don't think we need to go back and concern ourselves with 40, 50, 60 years ago.
“Now, if you win, it makes for a cool story.”
Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the World Series:
|CHICAGO CUBS||CLEVELAND INDIANS|
|Dexter Fowler - CF||Rajai Davis - CF|
|Kris Bryant - 3B||Jason Kipnis - 2B|
|Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Francisco Lindor - SS|
|Ben Zobrist - LF||Mike Napoli - 1B|
|Kyle Schwarber - DH||Carlos Santana - DH|
|Javier Baez - 2B||Jose Ramirez - 3B|
|Chris Coghlan - RF||Brandon Guyer - LF|
|Addison Russell - SS||Lonnie Chisenhall - RF|
|David Ross - C||Roberto Perez - C|
|Jon Lester - LHP||Corey Kluber - RHP|