Good base running has nothing to do with speed. Go back and watch Kris Bryant run the bases. Not the fastest Cub by far, but the angles he took to round the bases were perfect.
Flashy defensive plays are statistically less reliable than the safe defensive play. Javier Baez made stunning defensive plays but also whiffed on a number of key routine defensive plays that could have spelled disaster for his team. Ben Zobrist is half the athlete Baez is but I never saw him whiff on a routine play.
To me, both cities- Chicago and Cleveland – won even though the Cubs took home the physical trophy. Both cities got to experience World Series baseball for the first time in decades. Huge, louder than jet engines revving type crowds, the vendors won, the parking lots were packed, the local bars were packed, the hotels, the entire city won. Having been to a World Series game myself, I can tell you that it is the far different than your average July day game. So, congrats to the two cities and their local economies.
Major League Baseball needs to decide which league format to play – DH or no DH. It creates a gigantic disadvantage for the American League team to play without their DH, who is often one of the best hitters and run producers of his team. National League teams have Pitchers that practice bunting all year and are ready when called upon to bunt a runner over. American League Pitchers are completely overwhelmed when they are ask to bat, bunt, etc. Maybe the winner of the All Star Game gets to choose the format for the series – DH or no DH – and that format is consistent in every game.
Start the games earlier or have an afternoon game or two. Baseball fans, not only the team’s loyal fans, will tune in to watch the games regardless of the start time. By September, fan participation and overall attendance starts to waver. College and Professional Football season is upon us by October and TV viewership numbers just aren’t there. Start the games at 6 pm so the fans, the kids who have school the next day, the parents who need to get up to get their kids ready for school, can watch the entire game. Starting the games at 8pm or 8:30 pm means the end of the game falls around 11 to 12 midnight. Watching highlights at 7 am the next morning and finding out it was one of the best comebacks of all time just does not sit well with me.
The Cubs built this team from the ground up. Russell, Baez, Bryant, Contreras, Schwarber – all home grown talent through the draft. Rizzo, Montero, Fowler, Lester, Lackey, Ross, Heyward added through years of trades and free agency. This team was terrible 2- 3 years ago but you could almost predict what the future would bring. Solid up the middle, veteran pitching, stars in the infield – all added up to this inevitable victory in the World Series. It has been done before – NY Mets, Yankees, Red Sox. It takes years but the reward is so sweet.
The Indians played the best at the right time. Anyone out there predict Cleveland over Boston, Texas, and Toronto? Who were those pitchers other than Corey Kluger? Anyone have them on your fantasy teams? Of course not. Cleveland played the best at the right time and got hot when other teams fizzled. The Indians hit, pitched, played great defense, stole tons of bases, and were expertly managed throughout the entire playoffs. They were the best team in September when it counted. Make no mistake. They deserved to be in the World Series and the other teams did not.
Multiple games and too many innings were the ultimate undoing of relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Virtually unhittable in the early part of the series, fatigue had to have set in for these star relief pitchers. The location of the pitches became erratic, the fastball speed dropped, the slider was landing in the strike zone as opposed to diving out of the zone. They became human and were hit hard. Both managers distrusted their bullpens with the exception of these two studs. And as a result, Miller and Chapman got severely burnt out by Game 7.
Whoever covers the game next year, please have the team’s local announcers call at least one of the games. With all due respect to the Fox Sports team of Buck and Smoltz, can we have announcers that know who more about the players than just their names and ages? Every batter was the 22 year old or the 39 year old. Local radio and TV announcers know the players, their tendencies, interesting facts about them because they have covered them for 162 games plus Spring Training. The national guys are just boring and seem to make stuff up as they go along. I would take Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo (if he were still here announcing in Boston) or Dave O’Brien any day of the series if the Boston Red Sox were in it. In fact, when the Sox played last, I turned the TV audio off and turned the local radio broadcast on and it was awesome.
The Chicago Cubs on paper could win multiple championships. But, the stress and pressure of winning the first championship in 108 years is over. What will be their motivation? And will the fans be as ardent and driven to support their team now that they are champions? And which players of this year’s team will leave via free agency to sign big contracts with other teams. We already know David Ross will retire, what impact will that have? Are others due to retire? How about the coaching staff, who will move on to take positions with other teams? And how will that affect the structure of the Cub’s organization. It took the Cubs 108 years to get this one off their backs. Let’s see how long it takes for a second championship. After all, they don’t play the games on paper, they play them out on the field.