Indians embrace underdog role in World Series against Cubs
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 24, 2016 07:24 PM
Cleveland Indians' Mike Napoli, right, fields a ball as Carlos Santana looks on during a team practice for baseball's upcoming World Series against the Chicag Cubs, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Aaron Josefczyk)
TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Any other year, against any other team, the Cleveland Indians would be the sentimental choice in this year's World Series.
But not against the Chicago Cubs.
The lovable Cubbies, who captured the nation's heart by exorcising curses and winning their first National League pennant since 1945 on Saturday and are aiming for their first Series title since 1908, are a popular pick.
The odds makers in Las Vegas have pegged the Cubs as heavy favorites going into Game 1 on Tuesday.
Heck, even First Fan Barack Obama, a die-hard White Sox supporter, said he was happy to see the North Side of Chicago rocking.
All the love toward the NL champions has left the Indians as underdogs — a role they've embraced this October.
"We believe in each other," first baseman Mike Napoli said Sunday. "We believe that if we go out there and play the game the right way, play as a team like we've done, we can win a game on any night. We've shown in the past two series we can't be taken lightly."
Cleveland wasn't supposed to beat Boston, but the Indians swept the Red Sox. Cleveland's pitching staff followed that by whittling Toronto's big bats down to toothpicks in the AL Championship Series.
Now on deck are the Cubs, who won 103 games during the regular season, have three aces at the top of the rotation, a flame-throwing closer and seem to have a date with destiny.
"They're a good team from top to bottom," said Indians supreme setup man Adam Miller. "They have three guys that might be Cy Young (winners). We're going to be going against a good team, that's not a surprise. If you want to count us out, that works for us."
The Indians are looking to end their own 68-year title drought, and they spent the past few days resting while the Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers finished their series. The down time has allowed Cleveland to get healthier, although second baseman Jason Kipnis is nursing an ankle injury sustained in the on-field celebrations for winning the ALCS.
"Thankfully we had some time off, which is good. He's not moving yet like he can, but I'm guessing with another 48 hours and 37,000 screaming fans, I bet he'll be OK," manager Terry Francona said.
Before the first batter even steps to the plate, this World Series already has the potential to be a classic.
Two teams with heartbreak in their pasts. One team will end its lengthy title quest, while the others' will linger.
"The Cubs have a lot of history. We have a lot of history," Napoli said. "The big things are the droughts. That's why I wanted it to be us versus them because it will probably be the coolest thing ever to be a part of that — going to Wrigley on the road to see that atmosphere.
"That's something I live for."