A funny thing happened over the course of the 2013 season: the outcome for 29 teams was exactly the same.
Only one team in baseball gets to be crowned “World Series Champion”, and that title went to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night. The other 29 teams, including the hometown Cincinnati Reds, already faced elimination at varying points before yesterday. There was little consolation to be drawn that the Red Sox have been the team of the past decade, claiming three championships in that span since 2004 after not seeing success for nearly the century prior. The St. Louis Cardinals were going for a similar status, having won two previous titles of their own in that same decade since they lost the previous head-to-head matchup against that same Boston foe in 2004.
Baseball is a funny game that way. There’s hope in almost every team (unless your roster is fully devoid of talent and stocked with AAA capability). Ultimately, just one team walks away with a trophy. The Cardinals don’t get to feel any better than the Reds did in the 2013 season, other than a division title and another NL Pennant. That pennant does mean *something* … it would certainly mean that much more to other cities that haven’t seen one in a long, long time. Cincinnati hasn’t seen one of those since 1990, which thankfully culminated in the grander prize that went with it.
The Pirates brought some hope to Pittsburgh this year. Their playoff drought came to a merciful end. Hard to believe that a pair of teams (the Seattle Mariners and the Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals) have never even made it to World Series, much less winning the whole thing. Eight (8) teams have never won a World Series in total (including the aforementioned two), meaning that nearly 27% of all teams haven’t had a championship. Granted, all of these teams have notably been “expansion” franchises since 1960, but even six of those teams have notched at least one title since existence (including the Mets, Blue Jays, and Marlins twice each).
Futility is the nature of a sport that has such a multitude of teams. One cannot expect greatness to occur annually, even in the cities where sometimes their respective frequency may be taken for granted (especially for those with short attention spans). To truly be a baseball fan is a battle of perseverance, often seeing a team through a long stretch of rough times (see: the Chicago Cubs) before realizing the fruits of another championship on the mantle.
It’s hard to believe that merely a decade ago Boston had waited from 1918 to see another title. Even Chicago fans (northsiders AND southsiders) were sitting on LONGER spans of futility (1908 *still* and 1917, respectively) at that moment in time … which the White Sox would break themselves but one year later. Boston sees themselves three titles to the positive in the subsequent 10 years … which would have been nearly unfathomable in just 2003. Fortunes change … and the results are imminently sweeter when those rewards are finally realized.
We can all hope for 2014 to bring different results. Spring renews hope, and hope springs eternal.
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