Nicholas Frankovich asks if Cleveland Indians (in 2022 to be called the Guardians) fans require a big-couch session with a group psychotherapist. It’s a reasonable question. The 1954 Indians still hold the modern record for regular-season winning percentage—till the nonexistent Law of Averages caught up with them versus the New York Giants. The Indians could not win a single game. In 1997, the Tribe came this close to a championship, but as in 2016 the seventh-game win proved elusive.
(It is worth noting that the mighty New York Yankees do not have anything approximating a stellar record in World Series going-the-distance seven games: lost in 2001, lost in 1964, lost in 1960, lost in 1955; only in 1958 did they come out, against the Milwaukee Braves, of a 3-to-1 hole: just as the 2016 Cubs returned from the dead. The Yankees are also the only postseason-baseball team to lose four straight after taking a three-to-nothing lead, which broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.)
The Chicago Cubs ball club will complete its makeover by removing the on-field bullpens: They adjusted the bleachers so that only the Bay Area teams will have pitchers warming up in foul territory. They had added lights. At least the ivy walls remain to remind anyone of “the lovable losers” and patsies of baseball.
The long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs will not hear “1908” anymore. They won’t need to listen to chants of “1969” or “Bartman” any longer either, just as Boston fans will not hear “1918” again. Neither city will have to hear about Jon Lester and the yips (or “It” or “the Monster”), a problem in cricket relegated to bowlers but in baseball it could be second-basemen too, like Chuck Knoblauch suffering from so-called Steve Sax disease: the psychological problem of the easy toss. (Our thanks to founder of the Cal Koonce Fan Club and eternal-Cubs fanatic [from which the term fan derives], clinical psychologist Dr. William Van Ornum, for the tip on the yips.)
The 2016 Cubs stand athwart a history of frustration and atop the baseball world. They reign. The Chicago drought lasted forty years longer than the Indians’s. It is difficult to imagine Cleveland needing the biblical forty additional in the American League wilderness. 2056? Preposterously distant. Women and men will be playing ball on Mars and the moon by that time.
And so another baseball season has ended, and some part of me (Evander) has again died, psychologically, emotionally. In 2015, I could look forward to T20. No such luck in this most weird year.