Saturday, October 15, 2016

Chicago v. Los Angeles

The Cubs and the Dodgers have both been in the National League since the World Series began in 1903, and between them they have participated in almost 30 World Series -- and yet they have rarely played big games against each other.  The Cubs were a great power in the first half of the 20th century, winning 10 pennants between 1906 and 1945.  During this period, the Dodgers were usually an also-ran, winning only 3 pennants -- and no World Series.  For most of this period, the Dodgers were seen as plucky losers, whose colorful fans in Brooklyn were their main claim to fame -- especially by comparison with the lordly Giants over in Manhattan.

But that all changed after the War.  The Dodgers became a great power -- winning fifteen pennants (and six world titles) from 1947 to 1988.  They also forever abandoned any claim to be the plucky underdog by abandoning Brooklyn for the vast riches of Los Angeles, a move that forever changed their place in baseball history.  Meanwhile, the once-mighty Cubs, like a wealthy uncle gone senile, drifted into decade after decade of futility.  Now they were the eccentrics -- refusing to play night baseball until well into the 1980's, never changing their old stadium, letting their games be seen by parties on neighboring rooftops.  The occasional dramatic collapse -- such as in 1969 and 1984 -- simply underscored their role as lovable losers.

However, since 1988 both fan bases have been frustrated.  The Dodgers have now gone almost 30 years without winning the pennant, while the Cubs still haven't captured the flag since 1945.  It's not from lack of trying -- the Dodgers and Cubs have made and spent a lot of money over the last 30 years, and have generally been among the better teams in baseball.  But they have been hopeless in big-game situations.  Worse still, they have had to watch as their hated rivals -- the Giants and Cardinals -- have dominated the National League during much of that time.

Maybe all those losses to the Giants and Cardinals have been good for them.  The Dodgers got new ownership a few years ago, and have now won the National League West in each of the last four seasons.  Meanwhile, the Cubs went out and made Theo Epstein their General Manager, and all he's done has been to build the best team in baseball.  Now one team or the other will finally return to the World Series -- to the immense joy of its long-suffering fan base.  It should be the Cubs.

Here are the Cubs' appearances in the NLCS (wins in bold):

1984, 1989, 2003, 2015

Here are the Cubs' top five players by WAR:

1.  Cap Anson:  84
2.  Ron Santo:  72
3.  Ryne Sandberg:  67
4.  Ernie Banks:  67
5.  Billy Williams:  61

Here are the Dodgers' appearances in the NLCS (wins in bold):

1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 2008, 2009, 2013

And here are the Dodgers' top five players by WAR:

1.  Don Drysdale:  67
2.  Pee Wee Reese:  66
3.  Duke Snider:  65
4.  Jackie Robinson:  61
5.  Zack Wheat:  59

1 comment:

  1. My favorite Cub of all time is probably Ray Burris, and my favorite Dodger is probably Davey Lopes.