CLEVELAND — The 68 years the Indians have gone without winning a World Series would seem a compelling enough storyline to make them sentimental favorites this week.
Except that they're playing the Cubs, who can do them 40 years better in not winning since 1908.
"We'd be talking about nothing but our drought if we were playing any other team," said Indians 2B Jason Kipnis, a Chicago area kid who grew up rooting for the Cubs and dreaming of playing at Wrigley Field. "They've got us beat in that, and hopefully that's the only thing they've got us beat in and that remains and we're celebrating."
As much as the managers and some of the players want to keep the focus on the present, there is no way to avoid the historical implications.
"I think that's a very special thing about this series, regardless of the outcome one of these streaks gets snapped," Kipnis said. "I know a lot of people will be tuning in just to see one of them go down. I think as a fan of baseball it's very hard to write a better script."
While the Indians had two semi-recent chances to win, in 1995 and 1997 (and one in 1954), the Cubs hadn't been in a Series since 1945.
"I was a little surprised at how people have responded in Chicago, almost like they feel like we've already done something incredible," said Cubs INF/OF Ben Zobrist, the former Rays star. "We realize we hadn't won (a pennant) in 70 years, but we still feel like we have work to do. … We may have done the 70-year thing, but we're shooting for 108."
ROSTER MOVES: The Indians plan to add RHP Danny Salazar, who has been out since early September with forearm issues. Manager Terry Francona suggested he and rookie LHP Ryan Merritt could split Game 4. … The Cubs will wait until today to decide whether to add DH Kyle Schwarber, who is playing in the Arizona Fall League in a faster-than-expected recovery from April knee surgery.
X-RAYS FACTOR: The Indians will have ex-Rays OF Brandon Guyer in the lineup tonight, plus coaches Mickey Callaway and Matt Quartraro and inactive C Chris Gimenez. The Cubs have Zobrist and LHP Mike Montgomery, who reached Triple A with the Rays, plus manager Joe Maddon and coaches Chris Bosio, Eric Hinske and Dave Martinez and inactive RHP Jason Hammel. … From a Tampa Bay angle, the Cubs are also likely to have former East Lake standout Chris Coghlan.
MISCELLANY: As if hosting the World Series isn't a big enough deal tonight, the Cavs will receive their NBA championship rings before their season opener next door. … Rays RHP Chris Archer was on the scene doing analysis for ESPN, including a group interview with Maddon. … After RHP Corey Kluber tonight, the Indians are slotting RHP Trevor Bauer for Game 2 but could push him back two days for extra time for his cut pinkie finger to heal and start RHP Josh Tomlin on Wednesday. … The Cubs are starting LHP Jon Lester tonight, followed by RHPs Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey. … Former Indians greats Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga will throw out ceremonial first pitches in Games 1 and 2.