Hold Your Horses As the baseball playoffs begin, there is much talk about a possible Cubs-Red Sox World Series. It reminds me of an article I wrote in June 2001 when the Cubs and Red Sox were both in first place in their divisions. As I reread it, this looks it was a draft from May of that year, but you'll get the gist. I'm reposting it now for your amusement:
Cubs, Red Sox to Continue World Series Boycott
Fans must wait indefinitely
MILWAUKEE – In a recent letter to the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox have announced their intention to continue their boycott of the World Series.
“So long as the only criterion for going to the World Series is winning baseball games, our organization will continue its boycott,” said Cubs President and General Manager Andy MacPhail.
Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette echoed those sentiments, “History and tradition should count for something. We’re two of the oldest organizations in professional sports. We deserve a bye to the World Series,” he said.
Presently, the World Series participants are selected through a “playoff system.” The three Division winners from each of MLB’s two leagues, plus one additional team with the best regular season record compete in a tournament. In the first round, or Divisional Series, teams must win 3 of 5 games. In each of the subsequent rounds, the League Championship and World Series, teams must win 4 out of 7 games.
The two clubs have taken somewhat different approaches to enacting their boycotts. The Red Sox have chosen to make an effort to earn a bid to post-season play, but underperform in the playoffs, losing World Series in 1967, 1976, and 1986. Meanwhile, the Cubs have chosen to avoid the playoffs in all but five years since 1906.
“Winning merely creates expectations for more winning. And when we don’t meet those expectations, everyone feels bad. People lose their jobs because of it,” said Cubs manager Don Baylor.
“Sure, we may make the playoffs. Heck, we may even go to the World Series. But, as Bill Buckner demonstrates time and time again on ESPN Classic, we will do whatever it takes to sabotage the winner-takes-all playoff system,” said Mr. Duquette, alluding to the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox were one out from winning the World Series, when Buckner committed an error that allowed the New York Mets to win Game 6 in extra innings, extending the series by one game, which the Mets ultimately won to take the title.
Fans of both teams were still in shock after hearing the news. They had hoped that the teams’ first-place records signaled a change in philosophy. Chicago leads the National League Central division by 3 games. Boston leads the American League East by one game.
“This is really crushing,” despondent Ameritech sales representative and season-ticketholder Craig Warshawski said. “When [Cubs owners] The Tribune Company agreed to pay Sammy [Sosa], I thought, ‘This could be the year.’ Maybe if the pitching holds up through the All-Star Break, they’ll change their minds.”
“The Sox are awesome! When Nomar gets back, they’re gonna win it all,” screamed Sean Curran, 31, a longshoreman, before punching a passerby in the head.
Not anytime soon, if these organizations have their way. “Baseball is a game of tradition. No franchise has better tradition than us or the Cubs,” said Red Sox CEO John Harrington. “We have the oldest, dirtiest stadium in baseball. There’s not a stall to be seen around any of our toilettes. Do these things count for nothing anymore?”
MacPhail nodded in support. “We have the most liberal alcohol policies and the most lax security force. Our commitment to daytime baseball has been a beacon of hope to the unemployed and lackadaisical everywhere. Baseball needs to get its house in order.”