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World Series Notebook 5: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

A World Series championship will be won at Wrigley Field today for the first time since 1945. Unfortunately, then it was won by the Detroit Tigers and now it will be won by the Cleveland Indians. Wrigley Field has never seen the Cubs win a World Series on its field.

Or, the Cubs will send the Series back to Cleveland. Who knows. But it certainly feels like it's over.

They Are Good
We'll get to Chicago's woes, but first, let's consider Cleveland, which also has something to do with what we're seeing.

"The Indians swept Boston in their division series, holding the Red Sox to a .214 batting average. They won four of five from Toronto in the American League Championship Series, holding the Blue Jays to a .201 average. Now, through four games in the World Series, the Cubs are hitting .204," Tyler Kepner writes for the New York Times.

In other words, this is not just the randomness of the playoffs that so many saberheads have propagated to explain away the "best" teams in baseball getting knocked out in postseason play. The entirety of the playoffs is enough of a sample size to suppose that Cleveland is the best team in baseball - at least right now.

Cleveland won 94 games in the regular season - topped in the AL only by Texas, by one game. Only the Nationals, also by one game, and the Cubs, by nine games, won more in the NL. Cleveland also played in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs. And it made the most impactful mid-season acquisition in Andrew Miller. (Yes, more impactful than the Cubs' acquisition of Aroldis Chapman; maybe we got the wrong guy after all. Would you have given up Kyle Schwarber then if it meant a World Series championship now?)

A reminder from Brendan Dlubala on FanSided:

"[Cleveland] packaged four prospects including highly touted outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty pitcher Justus Sheffield. Miller was thrown into a strong bullpen that already included closer Cody Allen, setup reliever Bryan Shaw and middle reliever Dan Otero. While with the Indians, Miller appeared in 26 games posting a 1.55 ERA and a 4-0 record. He also recorded three saves."

By contrast, Chapman appeared in 28 games for the Cubs posted a 1.10 ERA and a 1-1 record, with 16 saves.

Now, we know that won-loss records and saves are bad metrics for pitchers. And as far as ERA goes, we might want to dig deeper into FIP - Fielding Independent Pitching - where Chapman notched a 0.82 to Miller's 1.53.

Then why does Miller's contribution to the team seem so much more significant than Chapman's?

Maybe because Chapman has only seen 10.1 innings of postseason play - 2.1 in the World Series - in 14 games. Miller has seen 17 innings of postseason play - 5.1 in the World Series - in 13 games.

Of course, Miller and Chapman play different roles on their teams. But which has been the more dominant force? Which gets the more important outs? Which upsets the other team's plans more?

The Cubs are a very good team. But right now, they are not the best team in baseball. There is one that is better.

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That's not to say coming back from a 3-1 deficit is impossible. If the Cubs do, they reclaim the throne. I don't like the chances.

The Schwarber Dilemma, Con't
You can only use him once, so you better pick the right spot!

On the other hand, you could have used Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella at any time in the game, just like you did in the regular season, and even kept them in the game if you wanted to. Or done the ol' double-switch, which really doesn't work with Schwarber. Just sayin'. Again.

Pinch Tweeting
Leading off the third inning. A lot of folks wanted a pinch hitter - even Schwarber - right there. No.

Said Joe Maddon: "Leading off the inning, yeah. I didn't want to waste that right there. You don't know. The score at that time was still like 4-1, correct? 3-1. So there's no reason to burn him leading off right there. Because if they're going to go to Miller - if the game's close, you would have seen Allen or Shaw there in the latter part of the game. And I was willing to use him in a lot of different spots, not just for the pitcher."

Then, when Chris Coghlan pinch hit for Lackey in the fifth, so-called baseball guru Joe Sheehan tweeted that Maddon was burning his best pinch runner. Dan Bernstein of The Score retweeted that, which is how it ended up in my feed. I had the same reaction as a lot of folks:

Sheehan actually retweeted me, without comment.

Then, after further pushback by a bunch of others, Sheehan tweeted that people had better start getting his jokes or unfollow him. My response:

You might have noticed that Sheehan's tweets are unavailable to my feed. That's because this is when he blocked me. For that.

That's okay, I didn't follow him anyway, and I think he's highly overrated, but another example of a thin-skinned journo who can dish it out but can't take it in even the slightest. The truth is that his "joke," if it was that, was too plausible given the commentary of him and others to be recognized as a joke. It doesn't seem like Bernstein recognized it as such - was it so funny it was worth Dan retweeting it? He barely tweeted at all during the game.

I don't care about being blocked, but I'm once again exasperated by my profession.

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Maddon, on using Coghlan in that at-bat instead of Schwarber:

"I didn't want to waste him . . . I was looking for a more profitable moment to extend him . . . I want to use him when he can drive in more than himself."

Maddon also said that neither leading off against Kluber nor facing Miller is a good match-up for Schwarber - and he's right. Which brings us back to the limitations of having him on the roster.

TrackNotes: Cubs
In response to my quotes in this AP article about the Cubs, our man on the rail Tom Chambers sent me this:

Given that "performance" last night, somehow it seems as if our world order remains intact.

The Rickettses, with the cooperation of fake strictness by Ald. Tom Tunney and Mayor Rahm, seek only world domination, in clear contradiction of the spirit of Wrigley Field and the neighborhood. Typical. That Nuveen sign in left field nearly made me physically ill.

Mike Francesa on WFAN was reading a press release from the Yankees about "major renovations" at Yankee Stadium, designed to "enhance the fan experience." Basically, adding restaurants and bars and a day care center. Complete with a full array of hi-def video screens and many food menu options. But don't walk through the door, because there's a game goin' on out there. I remember getting a churro deep in the literally dark and cold bowels of right field in the old Comiskey Park but hustling to get back to the game. You could do a full lap of the ballpark, with one eye on the action the whole way.

The business model is that the ballpark is a Pony Express station, with nothing else around it, so as to have exclusive access to your dollars. Jerry Reinsdorf, the new millennium's penurious Charles Comiskey, still hasn't rebuilt McCuddy's, as he and others promised to do. Ricketts is attempting the same thing. We know better, but many do not. The disease even spread to most of the Wrigleyville bars. These are not accidents.

As Sonny told C in A Bronx Tale, "You think Mickey Mantle cares about you? Will Mickey Mantle pay your old man's rent?"

So I haven't shed any tears of joy for "my Cubbies" getting to the World Series, in which just getting to the Series was way too highly celebrated. I can't afford to even go to a game, or stand in a bar for 12 hours. I look upon it as as phenomenon, a soap opera. Interesting, but not vital to me.

I also think the Cubbie spell has fallen upon Maddon and the rest - re: Schwarber - and I was always worried about the Indians. They look hungrier. Imagine that!

Between the manufacturing of affinity through blatant classism, the corporate sellout, the high prices and even the late start times to these games, I do not feel as if this team is accessible to me. They can do what they do, but it's not really here nor there to me.

I've watched two of the games at my favorite West Loop watering hole, and it was much more about the community and meeting new people than it was about the game itself. That was a lot of fun, and those will be my best memories of this Cubs season.

Amen.

Say It Ain't Joe
The top three managers in the game are now, in order, Francona, Maddon, Bochy.

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Top Tweets

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Dexter's wife.

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And the Daffy Duck bit was taken.

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Not against Cleveland.

Kaplan's rah-rah routine is embarrassing; how can anyone ever know if he's telling it straight? P.S.: He's a grown man.

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Old Style truck driver for World Series MVP.

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Comments welcome.

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