At the beginning of the season, it was World Series-or-bust for the Chicago Cubs. Now that they’re actually here – and facing a small-market team – they have to be the clear-cut favorites to win it all, right?
“I don’t know how you say that,” former MLB All-Star and World Series champion Ryan Dempster said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I understand what you’re saying because you look at their team and they won 103 games during the year. But the Cleveland Indians went in and thumped up on Boston, who everybody thought was going to make it to the World Series. Then they go into Toronto and beat them, too. Any team managed by Terry Francona in the World Series, I can’t sit there and say anybody’s a clear-cut favorite, but I like our chances with the Chicago Cubs to go out there and get this thing done.”
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the National League did not win the All-Star Game this year. Thus, Game 1 of the World Series will be in Cleveland on Tuesday – despite the fact that the Cubs won nine more games than the Indians during the regular season.
“I think the best team in baseball should have (home-field advantage in the World Series),” Dempster said. “I understand why they did it. I understand what went on there. But I think it’s really hard to justify (not giving home-field advantage to the best team in baseball).”
Many All-Stars, of course, don’t even play for teams that make the playoffs, and some are last-minute fill-ins.
“Some of them, let’s be honest: they’re just enjoying the moment and they don’t really care if the All-Star Game gets won or lost,” Dempster said. “If that’s the case, then I don’t think you should have to take a player from every team. You should take the best players available and go from there. Home-field advantage is huge. Because of that, the Cubs, they’ve got to go out there and try to win one of these games – if not both games – in Cleveland. You don’t want to get in a situation where you have to go back there being down a game. Rob Manfred and everybody in Major League Baseball is doing this amazing job of changing rules and tinkering with things to make them better in the game. Maybe that’s something they take a look at in the future.”
The Cubs, meanwhile, are taking a look at Kyle Schwarber right now. Schwarber, who tore his ACL two games into the season in April, could play in the World Series.
But would it be wise to play a guy who missed essentially the entire year? Maybe.
“I think this guy is extremely prepared,” Dempster said. “Some guys just have the it. They want it when the game is on the line. If there is somebody that can do it, I wholeheartedly believe (it’s him). They wouldn’t be afraid to put him in there if he wasn’t ready to do it.”
The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Dempster, who played for Chicago from 2004-12, was asked what would be better for baseball: the Cubs winning the World Series, or losing it?
“The Cubs winning it,” he said. “I just think it’s just a great story when you look at everything that’s gone into all of this. It’s a great story for both teams. Both organizations have gone a long time without that. I feel like either way it works. But with everything going into the season and all the expectations and these guys just embracing this target on their backs, to go out there and do everything they did, it really shows you that no matter how much so-called pressure or how much expectations that are on you, you can get it done. They’ve gone out there and played incredibly well.”