Sunday, October 21, 2018

The World Series

It's that time of year again.

Not exactly my two picks for the World Series this year, I was really rooting for a Cleveland/Milwaukee series. But as a friend reminded me the other day, this matchup is one for true baseball history geeks, between two franchises with tremendous histories, both of whom were there from the beginning, or almost the beginning of their respective leagues. Which led me to wonder if the Red Sox and the Dodgers ever met in the World Series. I didn’t think they had, but they did, once. To give you an idea how long ago that was, Babe Ruth was pitching for one of the teams. It was 1916. Four years later the owner of the Red Sox, theatrical impresario Harry Frazee, needed money to finance his new play, No No Nanette, so he decided to sell his ace pitcher who wasn’t so bad with the bat to the Yankees. Thus began what Red Sox fans called “the curse of the Bambino”, the beginning of an 86 year World Series championship dry spell. A friend of mine orginally from Boston just lost her grandfather who at 101 went to his grave cursing two people, Hitler and Harry Frazee.

Of course we in Chicago know about losing sports teams so there is little sympathy in these parts for those “long suffering” Boston fans. Dodger fans, at least the original ones back in Brooklyn knew a thing or two about dry spells as well. “Dem Bums” wouldn’t win a Major League World Series until 1955 (they joined the National League in 1891) when they finally beat those damn Yankees.

After posting this on Facebook, another friend reminded me that the last time the Red Sox and the Dodgers met in the World Series, the Dodgers weren't even known as the Dodgers. In 1915 they were generally referred to as the Robins. Needless to say they didn't play in Los Angeles either.

It was back in the day when teams had nicknames rather than the officially sanctioned, trademarked brand names they have today. If I’m not mistaken, the Brooklyn "Trolly Dodgers" nickname was coined before they built Ebbets Field, when their old ballpark was near a major crossing of trolley lines which fans had to dodge in order to get to the park. The less than awe-inspiring name Robins was in honor of their manager Wilbert Robinson. Other nicknames for the team in its early years were the Bridegrooms, because a number of members of the team had reacently gotten married, and the curious Superbas, not after a cigar, but apparently after a well known vaudeville act at the turn of the century. I'm not quite sure what the relationship between the act and the team was, from all indications there was  none, perhaps they just liked the name. My all time favorite baseball nickname was the Orphans, the nickname the team that currently plays on the north side of Chicago was once referred to after the departure of their long time player-manager and all-round terrible human being, Cap Anson. The current name of that team was inspired by a comment from a sports writer at spring training, waxing poetic about the prospects for the "new cubs" in the Chicago National League team's 1904 lineup. I suspect any name was better than the Orphans.

And speaking of the Chicago Nationals, they are the answer to the question of who was the last team the Babe Ruth led Red Sox beat to win the World Series. It was the 1918 Series. They say the Cubs intentionally threw that series just as the White Sox more famously did the following year. Ah sweet home Chicago!

Don’t really care who wins this one, just hope it goes seven games.


I didn't get my wish, Boston won the 2018 World Series in five games.

Wouldn’t say this series was one for the ages but for me there were two takeaways. The best team in baseball won, which is always satisfying, and Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado for the last out which was purely delightful.

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