Something Has to Give in World Series

The Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a world championship since 1908, and the Cleveland Indians, who last won a world championship in 1948, open the World Series Tuesday night in Cleveland. They are the two longest championship droughts among major league teams.

And they are the longest by a longshot.

In fact, among the original 16 teams the third longest world championship drought belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have now gone 37 years since knocking off the Baltimore Orioles in 1979. the Orioles are next at 33 years, the Detroit Tigers at 32 years and the New York Mets at 30 years.

In between the Cubs/Indians and the Pirates are six products of expansion, which have never won a world championship — the Texas Rangers, created as the Washington Senators in the original expansion, 55 years; the Houston Astros, 54 years; the Milwaukee Brewers, created as the Seattle Pilots, 47 years; the San Diego Padres, 47 years; the Washington Nationals, created as the Montreal Expos, 47 years; and the Seattle Mariners, 39 years.

The only expansion teams to win a world championship are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2002),  New York Mets (1969, 1986), Kansas City Royals (1985, 2015), Toronto Blue Jays (1992, 1993), Miami Marlins (1997, 2003), and Arizona Diamondbacks (2001)

The Cubs are ending another drought — 70 years without a world Series appearance. The Nationals (47) and Mariners (39), which have never been to the World Series, ranked second and third, followed by the Brewers (34 years), Orioles (33 years) and Dodgers (28 years).

The Cubs won back-to-back world championships in 1907-08, the only championships in franchise history. In the first 42 years of the World Series, however, the Cubs did make 10 appearances, losing to the AL champion 10 times, including the Detroit Tigers in 1945, the Cubs most recent appearance prior to this year.

The Cubs beat the Tigers in 1907 and 1908, both Series going five games, the teams playing to one tie in 1907 and the Tigers winning one game in 1908. The Cubs, meanwhile, lost to the White Sox in 1906, Philadelpha A’s in 1910 and 1929, Boston Red Sox in 1918, New York Yankees in 1932 and 1938, and the Tigers in 1935 and 1945.



Kershaw: Doesn’t Compute

Clayton Kershaw has the sixth best home-field winning percentage, in the regular season, among pitchers with at least 100 starts.

But in the post-season he will start Game 4 of the NLDS against the Nationals in search of his first career post-season win at Dodger Stadium.

Go figure.

Kershaw is 71-29 a .710 winning percentage, during the regular season at Dodger Stadium, where he also has a 1.99 ERA. The only pitcher of the expansion era with a better home winning percentage is Ron Guidry, who was 99-39, .717, at Yankee Stadium. The other pitchers with at least 100 home starts and a higher winning percentage than Kershaw are Lefty Grove (167-44, .791), Johnny Allen (84-30, .7370, Eddie Cicotte (85-32, .726) and Lefty Gomez (112-45, .713).

Kershaw’s career 1.99 ERA at Dodger Stadium is the lowest home ERA of any pitcher in history with at least 100 starts.

The regular-season success, however, doesn’t carry over to the post-season.

Kershaw has appeared in six post-season games, five starts, at Dodger Stadium. He is 0-3 with a 5.52 ERA.


Cal League Shake Up Has Rockies Moving

The High-A California League is undergoing a makeover, and it appears it will result in the Rockies moving their affiliate from Modesto to Lancaster.

There are two factors to the new-look Cal League. It will be reduced from 10 teams to eight teams. The Rangers and Astros are reportedly agreed to sign working agreements with teams in the Carolina League. And the Mariners are buying controlling interest in the Modesto affiliate, and will move their Cal League team from Bakersfield to Modesto.

Texas has an affiliation with High Desert, and Houston is in Lancaster. Both cities appear left out in the new alignment.

Lancaster has its concerns — it is a hitter’s dream and pitcher’s nightmare — but would seem to be preferred over Bakersfield or High Desert because of facilities.

Royals Face Decision Time

The Kansas City Royals are coming off back-to-back American League championships, having won their first World Series championship in 30 years last October. They have control of the bulk of their roster through at least 2017, and for the first two and a half months of this season, they appeared primed to take a shot at becoming the first team in this century to win back-to-back World Series titles.

And then came a 39-day stretch that has seen Kansas City fall from contention in the AL Central. The Royals woke up Thursday having lost 20 of their past 31 games. They have seen a half-game deficit to the Indians expand to 8 1/2, and have fallen behind the Tigers and White Sox not only in the division, but also in an AL Wild Card race, where there are five teams ahead of them.

It has forced Kansas City to re-evaluate its plans leading up to Monday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Royals aren’t just looking to fine-tune for the next two months. General manager Dayton Moore has to embrace a bigger picture.

That’s why Wade Davis has emerged in trade rumors, with reports having the Dodgers making a very strong push. What the Dodgers, however, have to understand is this isn’t a fire sale. Davis is one of the elite closers in the game, and if the Royals were to give him up, they would need an elite return.

10 Teams Needing to Add Before Monday’s Trading Deadline

Every team in the Majors faces pressure to win. With Monday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, that pressure is mounting.

These are the five teams in each league under the most scrutiny to make something happen before the Deadline:

Starstruck Deadline Dealing

The Cubs woke up on Monday morning with a 7 1/2-game edge on the second-place Cardinals in the National League Central, the biggest lead of any of the six first-place teams. And yet they entered the final week before next Monday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline at the top of the list of potential dealmakers, then showed why by acquiring left-handed closerAroldis Chapman from the Yankees on Monday afternoon.


Nope. Looking ahead.

There are no guarantees, but the Cubs, much like the Astros back in 1998, are looking for ways to improve their chances come October, not August or September. It didn’t work for the Astros, who got all they could have wanted out of their Deadline deal that year for ace Randy Johnson but were first eliminated in the NL Division Series.

That trade, however, was a headline grabber, arguably the biggest Deadline Day deal in the 30-year history of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

What is interesting is that the bulk of the attention-grabbing deals on Deadline Day are centered around pitchers. Here’s a look at 10 star-studded deals from past Deadlines.

Balderson Remembers Decision to Draft Griffey

Dick Balderson had a three-year tenure as the general manager of the Seattle Mariners, and former Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said that during that time, Balderson made the two most significant moves in the franchise’s history.

Balderson swung the trade that brought Jay Buhner to the Mariners from the Yankees for Ken Phelps on July 21, 1988, days before he was fired by then owner George Argyros. Just a year earlier, Balderson was behind the Seattle’s selection of Ken Griffey Jr., with the first pick of the 1987 Draft.

It wasn’t easy.

Argyros was pushing for Mike Harkey, a college pitcher, but Balderson and scouting director Roger Jongewaard were sold on Griffey. They were so sold that when Griffey and Harkey both came up with scouting scores of 80, they had senior scout Bob Harrison, who had the trust of Argyros, make adjustments that had Griffey emerge as the clear favorite.

The other player in consideration was outfielder Mark Merchant, a high school player from Orlando, Fla.

The Mariners hit the jackpot. Griffey put together a Hall of Fame career, and he will be inducted into Cooperstown on Sunday. Coverage of the induction begins on MLB Network and at 11 a.m. ET/8 PT, with the ceremonies beginning live at 1:30 p.m. ET/10:30 a.m. PT.

Another Chapter in Story HR Tale

Trevor Story homered in the fourth inning Sunday, his 27th of the season. That extends his NL record for a rookie shortstop.  He also is one one home run shy of the Rockies overall home run record for a rookie, which is held by Wilin Rosario.

Story has appeared in 89 games, and still has more than two months of playing time to try to break the major-league record for a rookie shortstop of 30 set by Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox. Troy Tulowitzki is third on the NL list for home runs by a rookie shortstop with 24 in his first season with the Rockies. Carlos Correa of the Astros last year and Bobby Crosby of the A’s in 2004 are tied for fourth with 22. Correa was an in-season call up and reached 22 in 99 games, which is 11 more games than Story has played so far.

Cal Ripken Jr., ranks sixth with 20 home runs as a shortstop in 1982.Now Ripken did hit 28 home runs that season, but eight of them came as a third baseman.

The all-time leader for home runs as a rookie, any position, is Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987 for the A’s. Wally Berger in 1930 with the Braves and Frank Robinson in 1956 with the Reds are tied for second at 38, and Albert Puljos with the Cardinals in 2001 and Al Rosen of the Indians in 1950 are tied for fourth with 37.

On the all-time rookie home run list, Story is among nine players tied for 38th.

Cargo Fits in Rockies Plans Beyond This Season

DENVER — Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich got the attention of the baseball world in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline a year ago.

Bridich dealt shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the face of the franchise, to the Blue Jays for pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman, Jesus Tinoco and Miguel Castro and shortstop Jose Reyes.

That has created an anticipation for what Bridich might do to add some life to the Deadline party this year, and the focus has been on the possibility of moving Carlos Gonzalez.

There are no guarantees in baseball. But as of today, the odds are Gonzalez will still be in a Colorado uniform come Aug. 2.

Here are five reasons why the Rockies would keep Gonzalez instead of moving him at the Deadline:

Indians Hit Free Agent Trifecta

KANSAS CITY — There are dreams. And there is reality. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti understands the difference.

So in an offseason where the likes of David Price was signing a seven-year, $217 million deal in Boston and Zack Greinke agreed to a six-year, $206 million deal with the D-backs and Jason Heyward picked up an eight-year, $184 million guarantee with the Cubs, Antonetti never even pretended to be a player in that market.

Nope. He had his budget. He had his holes. And with his guidance, the Indians, more than any other team, turned their offseason bargain hunting into as big a bonanza as any team could want.

Check out the standings. With a 7-3 victory against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night, the Indians have an American League-best record of 55-38, a 6 1/2-game lead over the second-place Tigers, and an eight-game lead on the defending World Series champion Royals.

They do have a sterling starting rotation, which leads the AL with a 42-23 record and 3.61 ERA and is second in the league with 573 2/3 innings pitched, helping ease the demands on a bullpen they would like to improve before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Do not, however, overlook the impact of offensive free agents Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis andJuan Uribe, who signed one-year deals for a combined investment of $16.24 million. That’s less than half the annual average value of $34.4 million that Greinke is earning, a bit over half of the $31 million Price will average in his time with the Red Sox, and well below the $23 million AAV the Cubs owe Heyward.