Cubs-Indians World Series 2016: Signs
October 23, 2016
Isn’t it interesting all the connections between the Cubs and the Indians?
- The last time the Indians made it, they had just hired a new General Manager named Hank Greenberg. Greenberg was Jewish (if you didn’t know) and had once famously sat out on Yom Kippur to honor Yahweh, his Adonai. He was also famous for playing on Rosh Hashanah and showed the blessing of God because he always played well on that Jewish Festival. The 1948 Indians won the pennant against the Red Sox on Rosh Hashanah, allowing them to advance to the World Series against the Boston Braves.
- The Cubs and the Wrigley fans mistreated Greenberg in two World Series, 1935 and 1945, when they played the Tigers. In 1935, Hank was injured in Game Two in Detroit, so he sat out the rest of the Series (Did you know he WANTED to play in a World Series game scheduled on Yom Kippur, but couldn’t because he was hurt? How providential! He never did play on Yom Kippur for his entire career). In Game Three, at Wrigley, the bench-warming Greenberg was still attacked verbally by the Cub players and the fans.
The Cubs’ bench jockeys were so viciously anti-Semitic that plate umpire George Moriarty ejected three Cubs – including manager Charlie Grimm – in direct violation of the Commissioner’s strict order not to eject anybody without his explicit permission. The ump later was fined $200 (a large sum during the Depression), but he said he would do it again to protect Hank. In 1945, Greenberg came back for WWII to lead the Tigers to the pennant. Playing at Wrigley this time, he was treated with great disrespect as he led Detroit to a World championship in a seven-game series – the last WS the Cubs were in.
- The Indians also had a player-manager in 1948, future Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau. Although raised as a Roman Catholic, Boudreau’s mother was Jewish. He was another reason the Indians were blessed in 1948. The Indians also were blessed because they had led the American League in breaking the Color Line, signing Larry Doby in 1947 and others later, including the great Leroy “Satchel” Paige.
- Lou Boudreau later connected with Cubs’ history by being an announcer for them for many years. Along with Jack Brickhouse, he had the honor of calling the 23 – 22 game in 1979, which was a sign that the Phillies were no longer cursed.
- The Curse breaking 2004 Boston Red Sox team is also connected to the Cubs. The most famous blunder in MLB history connected the Cubs and the Sox: Bill Buckner was wearing a Cubs’ batting glove when he made… that error on Mookie Wilson’s grounder. But there are now good connections: the General Manager who led the Red Sox “to the Promised Land” in 2004 was a young man – who was also Jewish – named Theo Epstein. The Cubs hired a Team President several years ago that has been the architect of this year’s winning team of Cubs… also a Jewish fella: guy named Theo Epstein. (Yes, it’s the same guy!)
- The Red Sox manager in 2004 was the newly-hired Terry Francona (who cut his teeth with losing teams with the Phillies). Do you know where Terry Francona is today? Yes – he’s the Indians manager. No – I don’t know if he has Jewish ancestry or not… I believe he’s got Italian blood.
- I have one autographed baseball – it is a spring-training ball signed in the spring of 1948 by the soon-to-be-World- Champion Cleveland Indians. It was signed by non-player Hank Greenberg, as well as the only living member of the 1948 team, Eddie Robinson, along with Hall-of-Famers Joe Gordon, Lou Boudreau, and Larry Doby.
One more observation: his numbers didn’t look especially good, but Ben Zobrist played a key role in winning the NLCS against the Dodgers. Joe Maddon knows… the Cubs know how valuable he is – that’s why he bats clean-up (certainly not to “honor” him for a lifetime of service!).
In Game One, when the Cubs’ World-class stopper came in in the eighth inning – and blew a two-run lead so that the Dodgers could tie the score – the tide could have easily turned to the Dodgers’ advantage. But the stunned crowd was brought back to life when Ben Zobrist led off the bottom of the eighth with a stinging double. The Cubs were not dead! He brought team right back into the game – and the Wrigley crowd.
In Game Four, after the Cubs had been shut out for 21 innings by Dodgers’ pitching, Ben Zobrist ended the squelching with a bunt single to start off the top of the fourth. Before long, that bold move paid dividends – the Cubs were out of their offensive doldrum and scored four runs. This was the turning point of the series, started by Zobrist.
And in Game Six, he hit a critical sacrifice fly, not only to get the Cubs another run, but to make sure the Dodgers pay for a critical mistake – Andrew Toles’ dropped fly ball of a catchable ball hit by Anthony Rizzo (that was something the CUBS usually did!). There were runners on second and third, nobody out, with a run in. If Kershaw and the Dodgers had gotten out of that mess with no extra runs scored, it would have been a huge psychological lift for LA. By driving a deep fly ball to score Bryant, Ben Zobrist made the Dodgers pay for their miscue. Critical moment, early in the game… from which the Dodgers never recovered.