Monday, January 16, 2012

1907 World Series: Cubs cruise

The Teams
National League: Chicago Cubs (107-45) - second World Series
American League: Detroit Tigers (92-58) - first World Series

What Happened
Still stinging from their upset loss in the previous year's World Series, the Cubs took out their frustrations on the rest of the National League in 1907. While they didn't get to 116 wins like they had the year before, the 107 wins they had in 1907 established themselves as one of the great teams in baseball history.

All the Cubs were missing was a World Championship. After the previous year's disappointment, they changed their approach in 1907. With the pennant wrapped up early, the Cubs rested their star pitchers down the stretch, forgoing their chance at equalling their wins record to make sure they finished the job in 1907.

What helped the Cubs was the tense pennant race in the American League that year. The Tigers held off Philadelphia down the stretch to win their first pennant, and they entered the World Series with tired pitchers to go up against Chicago's staff full of aces.

The series started sloppy for both teams. Detroit catcher Boss Schmidt committed two throwing errors and allowed seven stolen bases in Game 1, probably the worst defensive game ever played by a catcher in the World Series. Yet the Tigers took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning, getting three runs in the eighth in part because of Cubs pitcher Orval Overall botching a rundown.

Schmidt wasn't done destroying his team's hopes, though. He dropped the third strike of what would have been the final out of the ninth, allowing the tying run to score. After three more scoreless innings, the game was called because of darkness, becoming the first of three tie games in World Series history.

The series was all Cubs from there on out. Detroit's fielding woes spread from Schmidt to the rest of the team, and their offense couldn't figure out Chicago's sublime pitching. Even Ty Cobb, the 20-year-old phenom who had already established himself as the best player in the American League, wasn't immune, batting only .200 for the series. After scoring three runs in the first game, the Tigers only scored three the rest of the series as the Cubs swept their way to their first World Series title.

Defining Game
Game 3. The Tigers committed two errors, leading to three unearned runs for Chicago. Meanwhile, the Tigers could only manage five hits of Chicago pitchers. Really, all the games followed the same formula. It wasn't so much a dominating performance by Chicago as it was a miserable one by Detroit.

Unofficially, Harry Steinfeldt. The Cubs third baseman - and the only member of the Cubs infield not in the Hall of Fame - batted .471 in the series, impressive for an era where hits were hard to come by. Probably more impressive was his 16 chances in the field with only one error.

The Scores
(Home team in Bold)

Detroit 3 1 1 1 0
Chicago3 3 5 6 2

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here's the ones I've done so far:

101. 1907 - Chicago (N) def. Detroit (A) 4-0 (1 tie)
102. 2007 - Boston (A) def. Colorado (N) 4-0
103. 1938 - New York (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-0
104. 1998 - New York (A) def. San Diego (N) 4-0
105. 1989 - Oakland (A) def. San Francisco (N) 4-0
106. 1928 - New York (A) def. St. Louis (N) 4-0
107. 1917 - Cincinnati (N) def. Chicago (A) 5-3

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