Major League Baseball’s six division winners this season can be easily divided into two categories – five tormented franchises denied World Series glory for a long time and a once tormented franchise that now torments the rest of us.
Here’s an analytical breakdown:
(Note: No analytics were relied on in the preparation of this column.)
Cleveland Indians. The team won a World Series title in 1920, and then again in 1948. As we say in poker when you break out of your losing ways to finally win a hand, “Long time no eat.”
The Indians’ last World Series appearance came in 1997, marked by two ignominious matters: Game 4 in Cleveland against the Florida Marlins was the coldest game in World Series history – 38 degrees at opening pitch – and then the Indians became the first team to lose the World Series carrying a lead into the ninth inning of Game 7.
How bad is it for Indians fans? For most, their best baseball memory is watching the fictional Indians win the A.L. East title in 1989’s “Major League.”
Even worse, everyone in Cleveland has to watch the Browns.
Washington Nationals. This is Washington’s third MLB team with scant success. The original Washington Senators (1901-60) won their only World Series title in 1924, the second Senators (1961-71) were without a World Series title and the Nationals (2005-present) are without a World Series title.
There’s never much to cheer about in my erstwhile hometown.
It’s home to the Nationals, R*dsk*ns, Capitals and Wizards, it’s home to the perpetually dysfunctional federal government, it’s home to a toy train system that often doesn’t operate and it’s home to taxation without representation – that’s right, 675,000 D.C. residents have no voting rights in Congress, which, come to think of it, might be in blessing in disguise.
Chicago Cubs. Undoubtedly, many of you are familiar with the oft-told history here: The Cubs were the first MLB team to play in three consecutive World Series, capped by back-to-back titles in 1907 and 1908. Then, in October ’08, an adolescent Babe Ruth wandered into the Windy City, and at the end of a weekend of inebriation, tipped over Mrs. O’Leary’s cow two blocks from Wrigley Field.
With “The Curse of the Bambino,” it has been 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series.
The Cubs haven’t even been to a World Series since 1945, coincidentally the last time Ruth was in Chicago.
Texas Rangers. Originally the Washington Senators from 1961-71 (with no World Series titles), the Rangers have been in Arlington, Texas, since 1972 (with no World Series titles).
They won back-to-back American League pennants a few years back; in 2011, the Rangers twice found themselves excruciatingly one strike away from the title in Game 6 versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Frankly, it’s all-bleak, all the time in northeast Texas: Every other person is walking around with a handgun in a hip or shoulder holster. I believe there is a single firearm-free section at Globe Life Park.
Los Angeles Dodgers. The torment here is not nearly as pronounced – the Dodgers have won seven division titles since 2004, including four in a row. But the team’s last World Series title came in 1988.
Plus consider other burdens Angelenos must bear:
1. They’re losing Vin Scully.
2. If you’re going to watch the Dodgers play, traffic is so bad, you have to leave the day before to get there by game time.
3. And speaking of droughts, it hasn’t rained in Southern California since 1908.
Boston Red Sox. Folks in New England famously had to wait 86 years between World Series titles – they were insufferable then and they’re more insufferable now.
I invite non-Boston sports fans to call Couch Slouch’s 800 hotline, where you can get a free, live 15-minute rant on David Ortiz; for just $4.99, you also get 15 minutes on Curt Schilling.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Donald Trump is promising about 50 different major actions on Day One. You struggle to put out 800 words every seven days, and people like me are writing them for you. Thoughts? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)
A. You’ve done the impossible – my self-esteem, already at historically low levels, has sunk even further.
Q. When I’m watching “NFL Live” on ESPN, sometimes I can’t tell Matt Hasselbeck and Tim Hasselbeck apart. Can you help? (Peter Gold; Cherry Hill, N.J.)
A. Matt shaves his head in the morning, Tim shaves his head in the evening.
Q. As the new host city of the Rams, will July 9 (7-9) become known as Jeff Fisher Day in Los Angeles? (Jim Nesthus; St. Louis, Mo.)
A. You’re selling Fisher short: Aug. 8 is also a possibility.
Q. Once Tim Tebow has finished his baseball career, what will he do for the rest of 2016? (Roger Strauss; Silver Spring, Md.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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