On the visiting side at Progressive Field last Nov. 2, the Cubs celebrated the end of a 107-season World Series championship drought, the longest in Major League history.On the home side, meanwhile, a reality sank in. For all the Indians had accomplished -- winning an American League pennant and pushing
On the visiting side at Progressive Field last Nov. 2, the Cubs celebrated the end of a 107-season World Series championship drought, the longest in Major League history.
On the home side, meanwhile, a reality sank in. For all the Indians had accomplished -- winning an American League pennant and pushing the World Series into extra innings in Game 7 -- the Tribe inherited the distinction of having the longest active World Series championship drought -- a 68-year spell without a season-ending celebration.
The Indians opened Spring Training looking for this to be their year. While first baseman Mike Napoli and left fielder Rajai Davis are gone, the Tribe did lure free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion to fill the Napoli void in the lineup, and the club remains hopeful that Michael Brantley will return from an injury-riddled 2016 to contribute again at an All-Star level. The loaded rotation returns intact, and a bullpen that was fortified at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last year with the addition of Andrew Miller added another lefty, Boone Logan, as a free agent in the offseason.
Now, however, comes the hard part: turning offseason hopes into results. It's not easy.
• The Indians have had their opportunities in recent years. They made their ninth postseason appearance in 22 years last October, advancing to the World Series for the third time in that span. Unfortunately, they suffered extra-inning losses in Game 7 both last year and in 1997. Old-time Cleveland fans, however, know the other extreme. From 1901-94, the Tribe participated in the postseason only three times. The Indians were swept in the '54 World Series after winning the World Series championship in '48 and '20.
• There are 11 MLB teams with current championship droughts of 30 years or more: Indians (68), Rangers (56), Astros (55), Nationals, Brewers and Padres (48), Mariners (40), Pirates (37), Orioles (33), Tigers (32) and Mets (30).
• Expansion hasn't been kind. Of the 14 products of expansion, which began with the Washington Senators/Rangers and Angels in 1961, eight have not won a World Series championship: Senators/Rangers (1961), Astros ('62), Padres ('69), Pilots/Brewers ('69), Expos/Nationals ('69), Mariners ('77), Rockies ('93) and Rays ('98).
• The D-backs won a World Series championship faster than any expansion team history. They beat the Yankees in seven games in 2001, their fourth year of existence. That remains the lone World Series appearance in franchise history.
• The Marlins have never finished in first place, but thanks to the Wild Card, they do have two World Series championships, beating the Indians in seven games in 1997 and the Yankees in six games in 2003. Jim Leyland managed the 1997 team -- the only World Series championship he celebrated during 22 seasons as a manager despite advancing to the postseason eight times. He managed the Tigers to the World Series in 2006 and '12 but lost both times.
• Yes, the Phillies won the World Series against the Rays in 2008, but it was only the second World Series championship in the history of one of the game's oldest franchises. Philadelphia also beat Kansas City in 1980. The Phils made only two World Series appearances prior to '80 -- losing in '15 and '50. They also lost in the World Series in '83, '93 and 2009.
• The Yankees have won a record 27 World Series championships. Their longest drought was the first 20 years of their existence, which ended when they beat the Giants in six games in 1923. The Yanks' longest drought since was 17 years from 1979-95. They have won World Series championships in every decade since that first title in '23 -- except in the '80s, when they were swept in the best-of-three AL Championship Series in '80 and then lost to the Dodgers in six games in the '81 Fall Classic.
• The Nationals, who were created as the Montreal Expos as part of the 1969 expansion, have lost in the National League Division Series three times in the past five years. Prior to that, they had advanced to the postseason only once -- in 1981, when they lost to the Dodgers in five games in the NL Championship Series.
• The Orioles have gone 33 years without winning a World Series championship. They did, however, win three from 1966-83, sweeping the Dodgers in '66, beating the Reds in five games in '70, and beating the Phillies in five games in '83. Prior to that, the O's had made only one World Series appearance -- losing to the Cardinals as the St. Louis Browns in six games in '44 -- during a franchise existence that began as the Milwaukee Brewers in '01 and continued as the Browns from '02-53 before the franchise moved to Baltimore in '54.
• The Dodgers have not won a World Series since they beat the A's in 1988. That was their sixth World Series championship in a 33-year stretch -- the only six World Series championships in franchise history. They came up short in the Fall Classic seven times before beating the Yankees in '55. The Dodgers have advanced to the postseason 10 times since '88, but they have lost in the NLDS six times and the NLCS four.
Tracy Ringolsby is columnist for MLB.com.