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World Series inspires hope

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Let’s be completely transparent – right now, sports are dwarfed in significance by politics. The presidential election is fast approaching, perhaps the most critical one thus far in our nation’s history, and Americans are more harshly divided than ever when it comes to policies and debates. Controversial presidential candidates have only heightened the nation’s crippling cynicism. Yet it remains our duty as voting American citizens to keep informed anyway. We have to watch debates, as much as they make our eyes roll. We have to vote, even if some of us don’t feel a strong connection towards either candidate. We have to pay attention to politics for the greater good of the nation.

What we don’t have to do is watch the World Series. Baseball is America’s pastime, of course, and the fall classic is its annual grand finale, but in the face of politics it seems trivial. Honestly, it probably is. There’s no real sense in watching grown men playing a children’s game when the fate of the nation hangs in the balance, ready to topple over at the drop of a dime.

But we desperately need this World Series. After crawling to the finish line of an exhausting election process filled with so much bad, Americans need and deserve a symbol of perseverance to remind us that good still exists. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians cannot solve the nation’s myriad of problems overnight through baseball, but perhaps with some postseason magic and late-inning heroics under a moonlit October sky, these perennial underdogs can renew some optimism in a country starved for hope.

The Indians enter the fall classic trying to win their first championship in 68 years, the second-longest active title drought in baseball. Featuring a scrappy, young lineup that manufactures runs any way they can and a pitching staff that quietly works wonders, Cleveland emphasizes substance over style, a philosophy that netted them the American League pennant against formidable odds. Alongside ending their losing streak, a World Series title would accompany the NBA Championship earned by the Cavaliers earlier this season. Cleveland, so long deprived of sports titles, would immediately become a haven for them.

Cleveland would undoubtedly be the sentimental favorites were it not for their opponents, the cursed Chicago Cubs, who themselves possess the longest active futility streak at 108 years. The Cubs haven’t even been to a World Series since before the Indians last took home the title. However, this year has told a different tale. Combining lethal young hitters with experienced veteran aces on the mound, the Cubs are the MLB’s most explosive team, but cursed they remain – if history is any indication, the other shoe could drop at any time. Winning that coveted World Series would finally bring the longest underdog story in American sports, over a century in the making, to an emotional end.

That’s what America needs right now, a positive emotional story in the face of negative circumstances, something to cast a spell over our jaded adult personas and return us to a childlike state where we believe in magic, justice and triumph over adversity. Both these organizations have endured hell for the past century. No matter which side ends up conquering their demons, an underdog franchise will finally return home a winner, their fans rewarded for their patience. It’s hard not to be romantic about that reality.

So watch this. Revel in this. Not just because this World Series has arguably the greatest historical implications of any championship in the past century, not just because those implications likely won’t be replicated for another hundred years, not just because it’s valuable, tangible history. Watch it to remind yourself that in an unsettling political world, we can still turn to something as trivial as a children’s game to enliven our spirit and give us hope.

seidel1@stolaf.edu