Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1908 World Series: Dry Spell

The Teams
National League: Chicago Cubs (99-55) - Third World Series (Won in 1907)
American League: Detroit Tigers (90-63) - Second World Series

What Happened
1908 featured the first rematch in World Series history, as the Cubs and Tigers met for the second year in a row. Since the Cubs had just finished picking the bits of Tiger out of their teeth after the previous year's annihilation, there was little reason to believe that this year's series would be any different.

Thing were a little different in 1908, though. A year older and wiser, the Tigers used the previous year's humiliating experience as inspiration. They came from behind to take a lead into the ninth inning in Game 1 before the Cubs put the game away with six straight singles. Game 2 was scoreless until the bottom of the eighth, when the Cubs hit for the cycle in a six-run rally to take a 2-0 series lead. Still, the Tigers didn't give in and finally got their first win in a World Series game with an 8-3 win in Game 3.

Instead of turning the momentum, though, the Tigers' Game 3 win just made the Cubs mad. Specifically, it made their pitchers mad. The Tigers only got seven hits the rest of the series as the Cubs closed out the series with 18 consecutive scoreless innings. For the second straight year, the Cubs celebrated a championship. With two straight titles and three straight National League pennants, the Cubs were officially a dynasty. With their nearly untouchable pitching staff, it seemed like several more titles were foregone conclusions.

Of course, that didn't happen. The Cubs fell behind Pittsburgh in 1909, lost the World Series in 1910, and then saw their window of greatness close. Their great pitchers got old, their hitters stopped hitting, and their dynasty fell apart. They haven't won the World Series since. Their 103-year title drought is the longest in the history of North American professional sports.

Defining Game
Game 1 featured two things that had been missing from most of the World Series games to that point - wild swings in momentum and lots of runs. After the Tigers took a 1-0 lead on a single by Ty Cobb, the Cubs used four hits and two Tiger errors in the third to make it 4-1. After another Chicago run Detroit cut it to 5-4 in the seventh before a two-run single in the eighth gave them the lead entering the ninth. Three outs from taking the series lead, the Tigers instead fell apart, giving up six straight Chicago singles - with a double steal thrown in. The Cubs won 10-6, the second time in 25 all time World Series games that a team got to double figures in runs.

Orval Overall (unofficial). Aside from having the coolest name in the series (barely beating out Three-Finger Brown), Overall got complete-game victories in games 2 and 5, giving up only 7 hits and 1 run in the two games. His performance in Game 2 was especially meaningful, as the Cubs needed eight innings to get on the scoreboard against Detroit.

Random Fact
When Joe Tinker hit a home run in the eighth inning of Game 2, it was more than just the game-clinching blast. It was the first home run hit by any team in any World Series game featuring the Cubs. Considering that was the 13th World Series game in Cubs history, that's the perfect way to put the Deadball Era into context.

(Home team in Bold)

Detroit 6 1 8 0 0
Chicago 10 6 3 3 2

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

95. 1908 - Chicago (N) def. Detroit (A) 4-1
96. 1999 - New York (A) def. Atlanta (N) 4-0
97. 1963 - Los Angeles (N) def. New York (A) 4-0
98. 2010 - San Francisco (N) def. Texas (A) 4-1
99. 1937 - New York (A) def. New York (N) 4-1
Numbers 100-107

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