Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Cubs at Fenway

It has been almost 100 years since the Chicago Cubs have played in Fenway Park. I am overjoyed at the fact that I will get to see their return next weekend. I have tickets to Saturday's game and I am working on getting another one for Friday's game. I have the vacation day and I am heading out Friday morning for the five hour drive to the old town. I couldn't be more excited. I just hope the rain subsides.

The last time the Cubs played in Fenway was in the 1918 World Series where the Boston Red Sox beat them in six games thanks to their pitching phenom Babe Ruth (among others) who won game 1 (shut out) and game 4. Due to the Black Sox Scandal in 1919, where the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series, there will always be some doubt as to whether the Cubs also did so. In 1920, during the hearings in front of congress, White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte, made a vague reference to getting the idea to throw the series because the Cubs did it in 1918. There is never any follow-through and there is no other "proof". This will always be another reason why Cubs fans will always dislike their neighboring fans on the south side.

The only thing that makes you think that the Cubs indeed threw the series is that the score was so low. The Cubs scored a total of 10 runs in the whole series, but since the Red Sox only scored 9 this seems irrelevant. Cubs committed a total of five errors in the whole series (Boston committed one) which is not a lot. When you throw a game of baseball, the easiest way to do so is to commit intentional errors. The infamous 1919 White Sox committed 12 and their opponent, the Cincinnati Reds, committed 13. This was not uncommon in that era, the 1917 World Series had a total of 23 errors. This only makes me conclude that the 1918 World Series was a great series between two great teams that had impeccable defenses (both fielding and pitching). The Cubs might have won if their best pitcher, Pete Alexander, had not had to leave due to World War I. Also, the Cubs had to play their home game in unfamiliar Comiskey Park because it had a larger capacity than their home field, Wrigley (at that point named Weeghman Park).

The 1918 World Series in famous for a few more interesting reasons. For one, it was the last World Series in which there were no home runs hit during the entire series. You really have to wonder how this would have changed if the Red Sox had Ruth playing as a position player every game rather than only pitching two of them. It was also played in early September, due to the War. This was an era where players had to leave their teams to go to War. Players also had to leave teams to make more money elsewhere. They didn't make a lot of money (hence the gambling). This was also the first time that The Star Spangled Banner was played at a game. It was played during the seventh inning stretch and was not yet the US national anthem. And every game was played in under two hours. The game has changed a lot.

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