Between helping a friend move on Sunday and playing goalie in my co-rec soccer game last night, I’ve been doing a lot of standing in the rain recently. And that can only mean one thing. Summer is over and it’s time for the baseball playoffs. Here’s some history behind the four playoff matchups:
Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Cubs were formed in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings. Also in 1870, the newly named town of Phoenix purchased a 320 acre lot of land that eventually became the city’s business downtown. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, in 1908, the population of Phoenix was around 10,000. In 1915, the Cubs’ new home, Wrigley Field could hold 18,000 spectators. Today it seats 41,000, much fewer than the population of Phoenix, which thanks to the invention of air conditioning, has 1.5 million people, and its own team.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies
The Phillies were formed in 1883 and were originally called the Quakers. At the same time in Denver, a con-artist named “Soapy” Smith was able to corrupt officials in the quickly growing capital of the new state of Colorado with the money he made from his infamous soap scam. When the Phillies won their only ever World Series in 1980, the Colorado Rockies were still a hockey team. The Phillies won the NL East Division title this year for the
first second time since 1983, the year after the old Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey and became the Devils, and 10 years before the baseball Rockies were born.
Boston Red Sox vs. LA Angels of Anaheim
The Red Sox were founded at the beginning of the American League in 1901 as the Boston Americans. At that time, Anaheim was a small farming community. In 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, allegedly to finance a Broadway play. This action would curse the team for 84 years until they won the World Series in 2004. In 1924, the Ku Klax Klan secretly won 4 of the 5 seats on the city of Anaheim’s Board of Trustees. This action cursed the city of Anaheim for 78 years until 2002, when the Angels won their first World Series. The following year, a Mexican-American named Arte Moreno bought the Angels, changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and began trying to market the team to Hispanic fans. Since that bit of beautiful karma, even Anaheim’s NHL team has been good.
New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians
The Yankees and the Indians were both founded at the beginning of the American League in 1901. The Yankees were originally the Baltimore Orioles for two years before the owners were able to move the team to New York. There they were first called the Highlanders because their home field was on a hill. They didn’t become the Yankees until moving to the Polo Grounds in 1913. The Indians also went through a number of name changes. They started as the Cleveland Blues in 1901, but became the Bronchos (1902), the Naps (1903), the Molly McGuires (1909), and finally the Indians in 1911 after the city was allowed to vote on a name. Since then, the success of the Yankees and the Indians baseball teams has pretty much paralleled the fortunes of Yankees and Indians in this country as a whole.