This won't be news to regular readers of this column but as far as being a sports fan goes this is a most wonderful time of the year. And, yes, I have to tell you that every year!
This year is especially exciting as Canada's only Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, are in the MLB playoffs for the first time since they won back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
My Toronto Maple Leafs have started a new NHL season on October 7th with newly hired Saskatchewan-boy, super-coach, Mike Babcock, as their latest head coach giving beleaguered Leafs' fans a glimmer of hope going into the 2015-16 season. Keeping in mind that he isn't a miracle worker, but one can hope, can't one?
Almost thankfully, as of this writing, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have only the skinniest of mathematical possibilities of making the CFL playoffs so we don't even have to worry about watching them if their schedule conflicts with the baseball playoffs or hockey's newest regular season.
However, all that being said, October is baseball time. After a 162-game regular season the playoffs are finally here. I’ve played and watched a lot of different sports and I will honestly tell you that I don’t have a favourite sport. To play or to watch. Well, actually, I do…I have several. I love the sport that is being played at its most crucial time of the year. Do we have to have a favourite everything? Why can’t we love ‘em all the same. So, right now, my favourite sport happens to be baseball.
Baseball is still one of the few sports that I play competitively, albeit only a half-dozen or so games per year, but it still counts. Baseball is so unique in so many ways and the game is always about the numbers, numbers, numbers. You could say any sport is like that, I suppose, but again, to me, baseball takes the cake when it comes to numbers.
I could go on about the numbers which include batting averages, on-base percentages, outs per inning, earned run averages, home runs per at bat, home game records vs away game records etc. etc. etc. But those are just good old boring statistics. There were some very interesting numbers discovered in the recent National League Playoff (winner take all) Wild Card game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.
Next to my Leafs, and very few others, the Cubbies are arguably one of the most cursed franchises in the history of sport. They were a powerhouse of a team in the first decade of the 20th Century when there were only eight teams in the National League. The Cubs won the National League Pennant in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910 winning the World Series in 1907 and 1908 against the American League champions, in both those seasons, the Detroit Tigers. In the 107 years since their last World Series win they have made the post season playoffs only 13 times and they haven’t played in a World Series final since 1945.
Superstition and sports are synonymous and that fact appeared to come into play for this year’s Chicago Cubs team. You see, they were set to play the Wild Card game in Pittsburgh and the start time of the game would be of particular significance and Cubbie fans were hoping it was going to be a very good omen. The official first pitch time was slated for 7:08 p.m. Central time, which in military time is 19:08. 1908, of course, was the last year in which the Cubs won the World Series.
The date of the game itself is also noteworthy, as it was contested on October 7, or 10-7. 107 years, naturally, is the number of years it’s been since the Cubs have won a World Series title.
Here are a couple of other weird coincidences that have occurred with this year’s Cubs team. Their 97 wins this season are also the same number of games that the Cubs won when they last made the postseason. This season they had 48 road victories which are the most road wins they have had since 1945, the last time they played in a World Series. Hmmmmm. Coincidences or just numbers? You be the judge.
My money’s on the Blue Jays but if one had to lose to a worthy opponent my choice would be the Chicago Cubs. In time, the numbers will tell the story.
“Baseball is an island of activity amid a sea of statistics.”-Anonymous.