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Red Sox-Cubs

Posted by Neil Paine on May 20, 2011

As the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs kick off a 3-game interleague series tonight at Fenway Park, I am reminded of just how close we came in 2003 to what would have been a dream World Series. Two historic clubs, a pair of infamous curses, nearly 200 years of combined futility... how could this not have been one of the greatest Fall Classics ever?

It could very easily have happened, if not for two blunders -- Steve Bartman interfering with Moises Alou's play on a foul ball in Game 6 of the NLCS, and Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez on the mound for the 8th inning in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Red Sox had a 91% chance of advancing to the World Series in the middle of the 8th, leading 5-2 with 6 outs remaining. And at the time of the Bartman incident, the Cubs had a 92% chance of closing out the Marlins and going to their first Series since 1945. By all rights, the WS matchup for the ages should have happened.

And what if it had? Who would have won a hypothetical 2003 Cubs-Red Sox World Series? Vote below:

This entry was posted on Friday, May 20th, 2011 at 3:02 pm and is filed under Postseason, World Series. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

39 Responses to “Red Sox-Cubs”

  1. duskrequiem Says:

    But both of those things happened, and the event I was then referring to as the "Cubsoxalypse" was averted.

  2. John Autin Says:

    What happens when a stoppable force meets a moveable object? :)

  3. John Autin Says:

    Shouldn't the 3rd option really be, "They would have found a way to both lose"?

    OK, but seriously -- it's gotta be Boston, and here's why:

    (1) The Red Sox won 95 games, the Cubs 88.

    (2) The Red Sox had a pythagorean record of 94-68, the Cubs 85-77.

    (3) The Red Sox played in the better league.

    (4) The Universe clearly declared its favorites in the succeeding two seasons, as the other two most long-suffering fan bases were rewarded (both Sox teams).

  4. I agree, obviously, as a Red Sox fan. I loved the 2003 team. Cowboy UP!!

    Then again, if things always went according to run differential and records, the Cubs wouldn't have even been there -- the Braves were pretty dominant that year, only to flame out again in the Division Series.

  5. It would have been a great series, for their history and for the fact the matchups would've been great. The Cubs with Wood & Prior vs the BoSox Martinez & Schilling... I would love to have seen the TV ratings on THAT series. I think Boston would've come out on top, but I would expect it to be a 7 game series...

  6. Sam Hicks Says:

    @John: You're technically right, but in the series that really did happen, the Marlins beat the Yankees despite the same type of apparent disadvantages that faced them.

  7. What I like to think would have happened:

    2003 - Red Sox over Cubs

    2004 - Cardinals over Red Sox

    2005 - White Sox vs. Cubs: a combined 185 years of futility. Sox sweep, of course.

  8. I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez
    I hate Alex Gonzalez

  9. Random Sports Guy Says:

    @ 5 Devin: Hey, ummmm, yeah, Schilling wasn't on the 2003 Red Sox so, ummm, yeah,,,,,,,uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you're dumb.

  10. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Like asking who would make a better cat -- Lassie, or Rin Tin Tin?

  11. oneblankspace Says:

    You people forget that the BoSox did not have the longest drought for an AL team winning the World Series. That distinction belonged to the ChiSox (1917 vs 1918). The ChiSox also had the distinction of having the longest pennant drought (1959) and had lost something like 10 straight home games in the postseason. In my lifetime, up to that point, the BoSox had won 2 pennants and 6 World Series games.

    John Autin @3 forgot one thing: The Red Sox had won a World Series since they moved to Fenway, the Cubs have not won a World Series since they moved to Wrigley.

  12. I find this series very entertaining. As a Red Sox fan, I have had many great discussions with Cubs fans. I really wish them the best.

  13. @12
    Jay, amend your post to wish them the best after this weekend. :-)

    Seriously, I hope that interleague play goes away ......... soon! It is a Bud-Lite gimmick designed to put more fannys in seats but tell me how some of the initial match-ups this year make sense.

    Minnesota vs Arizona, Los Angeles vs Chicago White Sox, Houston vs Toronto?? Please reveal to me the historical connections between these franchises.

    I understand the roatation between divisions in inter-league play, but still..... my point stands

  14. Random Sports Guy Says:

    Ummm,,well, the Dodgers did play the ChiSox in the 1959 WS so there is some significance.......dumb ass.

  15. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @13 I was going to also mention the 1959 World Series.

    Minnesota vs. Arizona - Vikings play the Cardinals. Two long-time NFC franchises, although in different divisions. They probably end up playing each other fairly often nonetheless, possibly even in the playoffs. Or maybe the Golden Gophers and one of several teams known as the Wildcats in March Madness.

    One that wasn't mentioned that's also going on tonight is Rangers at Philadelphia. Although this would have sounded very nice last fall, "Rangers at Philadelphia" sounds more like a hockey game to those of us in Philadelphia. And of course, much of the time when the Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star Telegram are covering a game by a local team playing outdoors in Philadelphia, it's Cowboys vs. Eagles.

    Houston vs. Toronto, though, doesn't sound like hockey because Houston doesn't have an NHL team. But the Rockets no doubt play the Raptors once or twice a year.

  16. @15
    Double, (lol). When you gotta refer to a different sport between franchises to establish meaning, you know it's a stretch! :-)

    Is no one else fed up with interleague play? It has fuelled the Yankees and Red Sox dominance of the AL East in overall record.

  17. mccombe35 Says:

    I like interleague play, but it is a problem since the AL is so much better & when the good AL teams rack up Ws against the NL it messes up the AL playoff races.

  18. Evil Squirrel Says:

    I was so excited was MLB finally instituted interleague play in 1997. Baseball finally "got it".... why do you go through the entire season without teams from the opposing leagues play each other? Every other major professional sport did it, and now baseball was finally coming out of the Dark Ages and doing it as well....

    I ignored the gimmicky schedules at first, thinking eventually MLB would not be relying on interleague play as a crutch to bring in more revenues. Progress was finally made in 2002 when they began rotating the divisions, but alas, there were those stupid natural rivalry games still in the way! What the heck, Bud?

    Alas, 14 years later, here we still are talking about interleague as a gimmick, and having wildly goofy schedules being played by each team. It should have become a seamless part of the schedule by now.... much as it is in other sports. Instead, we still have interleague play only at designated times of the year, with designated teams playing designated opponents every year, and still a handful of teams who have never even gotten to play in certain cities yet! Holy Snafu, Batman! Thank goodness Bud Selig wasn't heading the NFL after the 1970 merger.....

    This quote from Jayson Stark's R&G article today sums up why interleague is never going to work in baseball, because the bigwigs at MLB have the completely wrong mindset about it:

    The trouble is, there's no good answer -- not without pulling the plug on those interleague-rivalry games. And there's no chance of that, because "you have to have the rivalry games," says one industry source. "That's the whole purpose of interleague play."

    No, that is not the whole purpose of interleague play. And until we can get past that, it will never work and it may as well be scrapped.... and I never thought I would ever say that.....

  19. @14
    Thank you, Random, for that respectful post.

    How could I miss the significance of a 52-year old WS meeting in 2011?

    I love being called dumb ass.

    Have some respect, dude.

  20. @18
    "because "you have to have the rivalry games," says one industry source. "That's the whole purpose of interleague play." "

    Evil, so does the tail wag the dog or the dog wag the..........

  21. John Autin Says:

    Neil L. -- I share your feelings about interleague play, and I say this having just watched my Mets trim the Yankees. It would be nice if there were a natural AL-NL rivalry for every team, but since there isn't and probably never will be, I would rather sacrifice the existing rivalries for the sake of avoiding the more numerous meaningless series.

    As an alternative to scrapping the whole thing, perhaps it could be trimmed back to just two series for each team, one against their natural rival (or the next best thing), and one that would rotate among the rest of the opposite league.

    BTW, I also share Neil's feeling that this is no place for name-calling.

  22. John Autin Says:

    @6, Sam Hicks -- You make a valid point about the 2003 Series -- and while I was surprised at the outcome, I was as pleased about it as anyone but the Marlins and their fans. By casting my ballot for the BoSox in that hypothetical WS, I didn't mean that I couldn't imagine the Cubs winning -- especially with a healthy Prior and Wood at the top of their rotation. But for a prediction, I have to go with the team that looks better on paper ... not to mention the cosmic factor that I cited. :)

  23. @21
    But then, JA, is it really worth the effort if it is only two series against a "natural rival" and another opposite-league opponent? Who is Seattle's natural rival or Toronto's? (Don't tell me Washington, that bird has flown!)

  24. John Autin Says:

    @11, Oneblankspace -- Why do you think that I forgot the respective histories of the Red Sox, Cubs and White Sox? My concluding point was that, although the Cubs were more "due" than any of the original teams, the clear meaning of the 2004 and '05 WS was that the baseball spirits prefer that to remain the case. Why else would they reward the (as I said above) "other two most long-suffering fan bases," but keep the poor Cubs in purgatory?

    (I hope it's clear that I'm speaking with tongue in cheek. Cubs fans, I kid, because I love; I lived in Chicago in the mid-to-late '70s and rooted for the teams of Reuschel, Madlock, Monday, Trillo, Cardenal, etc. I will be glad for you when your burden is finally lifted ... as long as you don't then develop an insufferable sense of entitlement like the fans of another recently-redeemed franchise!)

  25. John Autin Says:

    @23, Neil L. -- I grant that many teams have no natural rival, and force-feeding will not make it so. But what do you mean by "worth the effort"? And would it be so bad for Seattle or Toronto to play two series against random NL teams?

    FWIW ... Seattle's natural rival could be the Brewers, which is the continuation of the original Seattle expansion team. Toronto's rival could be ... um ... Pittsburgh?

  26. John Autin Says:

    Or, wait -- Toronto's rival could be the Phillies!

    1. Phillies were informally known as the Blue Jays during the mid-'40s.

    2. Relive the 1993 World Series -- those were good times, right?

    3. The Doc Halladay connection.

  27. I don't want interleague play.

    I don't want a top-heavy intradivisional schedule.

    I want teams to play close to a balanced schedule.

    Am I trapped in 1950?

  28. @25
    John Autin, I meant that for only two series a year is the worth the effort to have interleague play?

    And there is still the issue of an imbalanced strength of schedule in any given year.

    While the Yankees were duking it out against the Mets, a respectable opponent, their AL East rivals, the Blue Jays, were losing to the worst team in baseball ... at home no less.

    The only solution, IMHO, is a completely balanced in-league schedule.

  29. Not everyone would need a 'natural rival'. If Minnesota had Mauer healthy and would start hitting and Arizona had two players you've actually heard of, that would be a game worth seeing.

    Padres-Red Sox has zero historical significance yet they sell out practically when the tickets become available here because of the 'nation' and they are exciting to watch.

  30. This is the best way I can illustrate the problem with interleague play. The Cubs and the Phillies are two of the oldest franchises in baseball, starting in 1876 and 1883 respectively. Each has been in the NL that entire time and as recently as 1992, they played each other 18 times in a season. Last year, they played each other six times, some of which you could chalk up to expansion and now being in different divisions. But they also played the freakin Red Sox six times as well. Under no circumstances should a team play another team that's in direct competition for a playoff spot the same number of times as a team that has ZERO to do with their playoff run.

  31. they = the Phillies played the Red Sox

  32. Of course your head says sox and your heart says cubs...i dont know if they would have found a way to tie, more like found a way to both lose!
    http://www.baseballcomeback.blogspot.com/

  33. I'm still confused as to why there are 14 teams in the AL and 16 in the NL. And why the AL West only has four teams, while the NL Central has six.

  34. Nash Bruce Says:

    @30: yup, totally agree!!!!!!

  35. John Autin Says:

    @33, Bradley -- The 16/14 split is because it's hard to schedule a league with an odd number of teams; either every single day would have to have one team idle, or else there would have to be an interleague game every single day.

    The first option is problematic because of the "series" nature of the schedule; in effect, the idle team would generally have to be off for 2 or 3 days in a row.

    The second option, in my opinion, is actually workable, but it goes against MLB's (i.e., Selig's) fanciful notion of interleague play as an exciting period in the schedule. Bud thinks that having an interleague game every day would take the sparkle out of it; he doesn't seem to realize how little buzz is generated by much of the current interleague schedule.

  36. John Autin Says:

    P.S. to Bradley -- Having unbalanced divisions is just fallout from the unbalanced league size. Of course, you're right that it's inherently unfair that the AL West automatically gets 1 in 4 teams into the playoffs, while the NL Central gets just 1 of 6.

    Given the current division formats, I think the following rule would be interesting:
    -- If there is an AL team that stands to miss the postseason, but has a better record than the AL West leader, those 2 teams have a 1-game play-in, hosted by the West division leader.
    But MLB would never go for that in a million years.

  37. For scheduling, 30 teams just doesn't work- either expand to 32 teams or contract to 28 teams, neither of which are totally desirable. Where do you expand? Who do you contract?

  38. @37
    Andy R, no expansion, give the current financial climate.

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