For the first time since 1918, the Chicago Cubs will be visiting historic Fenway Park.
At that time, the two teams were facing each other in the World Series. A time before curses. A long time before blogs, MLB Network and 24 hour sports radio/television. What was at stake may have been greater back then, but there will definitely be more people watching this time around.
Back in 1918, players weren’t paid more than about $5,000/year and World Series championship bonus could run up to 20% of that total. With no guarantee of winning, there are rumors that players were willing to throw away a shot at a title and bonus money for the guaranteed payday that came along with throwing the Series. The Red Sox won the World Series and lately, people have questioned whether the Cubs handed it to them on a silver slugger plate.
I like to think that they didn’t. I like to think the corruption started in 1919 with the White Sox and the Black Sox scandal. The book/film, Eight Men Out fascinated me when I first came across them and the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, made famous in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ was one I was infatuated with for a while (still am today). How could anyone throw away the opportunity to win the World Series? I suppose now that I have a family of my own, I can understand the pressure to provide. I also know what it is to feel unfairly treated by an employer who is making millions. Considering the way owners treated players back then, as much as I’d like to believe it wasn’t the case, it’s hard to say the Cubs didn’t possibly contribute to the Red Sox success that Series.
This upcoming weekend series at Fenway, it’s just that. A series. Not a Series.
Nonetheless, the fact that it’s been nearly 100 years since the Cubs played at Fenway against the Red Sox (the Sox have visited Wrigley in a regular season inter-league game since) is a big deal and all eyes will be on Fenway Fri-Sun night. I wanted to get tickets and drive up to the old ballpark but it wasn’t in the cards. Regardless, I can’t wait to see this showdown.
You think a stretch against the Reds, Cardinals and Giants is a true test of where the team stands? Try facing the Boston Red Sox. After a slow start they are starting to fire on all cylinders. The favorite selected by many to win it all in the pre-season, individually and as a team are now hitting their stride. Once buried in the depths of talent in the AL East, the Sox are scratching their way back to the top of the standings, an effort I’d like to see come from the Cubs after their own slow start this season.
Two games against the Marlins in Miami is a great appetizer and a wonderful opportunity to finally get some sun and warm up a bit. However, the Marlins are no Red Sox and their ballpark is no Fenway. As excited as we are as Cubs fans for this weekend, you’d have to imagine the Sox fans are looking forward to it just as much. To experience the historic match-up and possibly to cheer their team on to victory and spoil the visit once again for the Chicago Cubs 93 years later.
Interleague play has opened up the opportunity for these types of match-ups, these types of tests for the club during the regular season. Considering I picked the Cubs over the Red Sox this year, this is one three game set I am very much in particular interested in seeing play out. Hopefully, it does so in the Cubs favor.
What happened in 1918 has no bearing on what will happen this weekend. It was merely a blip on the radar throughout the century-plus long title drought by the Cubs. However, if in fact something dirty did go down 93 years ago in that Series now being questioned by fans across the baseball landscape…then this series would be a great opportunity to redirect the focus where it needs to be and where it deserves to be.
All eyes will be on Fenway Park this weekend. Fenway Park is no Wrigley Field. Let’s ship up to Boston and show those Red Sox that they in fact are no Chicago Cubs. Get ready Bah-ston. We’re looking to sweep. Go Cubs Go!