Putting the Indians-Cubs World Series showdown in context of the longest droughts between clubs
By virtue of the Cubs winning the NLCS on Saturday night, they punched a ticket to a date with the Indians in the World Series (with Game 1 set for Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX).
In doing so, they set the stage for a particularly historic World Series showdown between two clubs that haven't seen the Fall Classic in a long time.
We all know the Cubs haven't won the Series since 1908, and in fact they haven't even been in it since 1945 -- so their 71-year pennant drought ended this weekend. They're still looking for that elusive World Series title, though, as they came up short against the Tigers in a seven-game '45 Series.
Cleveland, meanwhile, is seeking its first championship since 1948. It did make it to the '97 World Series, falling to the Marlins in seven games.
As alluring as a Cubs-Indians World Series may be, this same type of compelling October showdown has happened quite a few times in the past ... with some notable examples, including the following:
2005 -- White Sox over Astros
The '05 White Sox ended a prolonged dark period as far as franchise titles are concerned. Though it wasn't quite as dramatic as the Cubs' absence, the Sox hadn't made it to the World Series since 1959 -- and hadn't taken home a championship since 1917 (88 years before '05). Combined with '05 being the Astros' first (and, to date, only) pennant since they were created in 1962, that adds up to a combined 131-year World Series drought for the two clubs heading into that four-game series.
2004 - Red Sox over Cardinals
A season before the White Sox ended their lengthy time out of the spotlight, the Red Sox put to rest their own saga of October frustration with a resurgent year, capped off with a (still rather unbelievable) ALCS comeback from a 3-0 deficit to stun the Yankees and then sweep the Cardinals in a four-game World Series.
Those Sox, led by players like Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar, quashed all talk of the Boston franchise being "cursed" and, in the process, brought the city its first title since 1918 (an 86-year drought). The NL-winning Cardinals, who would go on to win championships in 2006 and 2011, ended their own absence by making it to the World Series for the first time since 1987 -- making it a combined 103 years without Series berths between the two clubs when they clashed in '04.
1980 - Phillies over Royals
The '80 Phillies captured their first World Series title in franchise history after securing their first NL pennant in 30 years. As the first World Series was played in 1903, that means the '80 Phils ended a 77-year run without achieving baseball immortality.
The Royals would win one themselves five seasons later, but their loss in six games in '80 came 11 years into their existence, which began in '69. Added together, the '80 World Series ended a combined 88-year drought for both clubs.
1966 - Orioles over Dodgers
The '66 season was when the Orioles finally won their first World Series, having been one of the league's eight charter clubs in 1901. By sweeping the reigning champion Dodgers in four games, the O's removed themselves from the list of title-starved teams, ending their 22-year World Series appearance drought (having lost to the St. Louis Browns in '44) and championship drought at 66 seasons.
2002 - Angels over Giants
Having joined the league in 1961, it took the Angels 41 years to finally reach the World Series -- and culminated in their first (and to date, only) World Series title after dispatching the Giants in seven exciting games. San Francisco, eight years before its eventual three-titles-in-five-years run began, won its first pennant since 1989 along the way. Combined with the Halos, that marked a 54-year drought when both clubs faced off in a West Coast World Series.
These are just some of the compelling World Series matchups that have taken place over the years -- setting the stage for this undeniably attractive matchup between Chicago and Cleveland that gets underway at Progressive Field on Tuesday night.