Cleveland last won in 1948, Chicago in 1908
CLEVELAND -- The last time the Cleveland professional baseball team won the World Series, Dewey led Truman in the polls. The Chicago Cubs' last title was 13 days after the first Ford Model T car was completed.
Lovable losers known for decades of defeat meet in this year's championship, a combined 174 seasons of futility facing off starting Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland's last title was in 1948, when 16 teams from the East Coast to St. Louis competed in a just-integrated sport. The Cubs are trying to win for the first time since 1908 , a dead ball-era matchup at a time home runs were rarities along with telephones.
No player is alive from the last championship Cubs or even the last to make a Series appearance - Tuesday marks the 25,948th day since the Cubs' Game 7 loss to Detroit in 1945. One player remains from the 1948 Cleveland team, 95-year-old Eddie Robinson.
"It seems like it's just forever," Robinson said Monday from his home in Fort Worth, Texas. "When we got home from Boston, there was a monumental parade. It just looked like everybody in Cleveland came out on Euclid Avenue."
One team's fans will let loose with the celebration of a lifetime. But while history weighs on the supporters, Cubs manager Joe Maddon focuses his players with a now-centered battle cry of "Win the Inning!"
"Air conditioning is popular right now. So is color TV," he said. "You've just got to change with the times."
Both teams worked out under cloudy skies Monday as the new 59-by-221-foot scoreboard behind the left-field seats - the largest in the major leagues - trumpeted the Sisyphean matchup. While the Cubs play in Wrigley Field, the 102-year-old brick-and-ivy jewel on Chicago's North Side, Cleveland is in a 22-year-old throwback-style ballpark originally called Jacobs Field.
Led by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs led the major leagues with 103 wins during the regular season, then beat San Francisco and Los Angeles in the playoffs. But since the playoffs expanded in 1995, only four teams with the best regular-season record won the title: the 1998 and 2009 New York Yankees, and the 2007 and 2013 Boston Red Sox.
"I promise you, our guys are going to be in the present tense," Maddon said. "I think we all have a tremendous amount of respect for history and what's happened before us or not happened before us. But, you know, you go in that room right now, they're very young. Really not impacted by a lot of the lore."
Jon Lester, 7-1 in his career against Cleveland, starts for the Cubs and Corey Kluber opens for Cleveland. Lester is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three postseason starts this year and 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in a trio of Series outings. He learned to prepare from watching Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett in Boston.
"They prepared the same way for this start as they would for a regular start during the season," he said.
Kluber pitched shutout ball twice in the playoffs before allowing two runs in five innings in Game 4 at Toronto. His father, Jim, was born in Cleveland and rooted for the team growing up in suburban Highland Heights.
"I think every parent is excited if their kid has a chance to play in the World Series," said the 30-year-old right-hander, who could win his second AL Cy Young Award in three years.
Both teams were dealing with injuries that caused changes in planning.
Chicago included outfielder Kyle Schwarber, out since tearing knee ligaments on April 7. He played a pair of games in the Arizona Fall League, going 1 for 6 with a double and two walks.
"Reports are good," Maddon said. "He's swinging the bat well. He's running really well."
Cleveland, juggling all year because of health mishaps, put on pitcher Danny Salazar, who could start Game 4. The All-Star right-hander has not pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but threw a simulated game Sunday.
Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis was dealing with a sprained left ankle, hurt when he jumped and shortstop Francisco Lindor accidentally stepped on his foot while celebrating the last out of the ALCS.
"He might not be 100 percent, but I don't think it's going to get in the way," Francona said.
Cleveland fell three outs short of the 1997 title when Jose Mesa blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 7 at Florida and an error by second baseman Tony Fernandez led to the Marlins' winning run in the 11th.
The Series starts just after a ceremony across the street when LeBron James and the Cavaliers receive championship rings before their opener celebrating this year's NBA title, the first for Cleveland's big league teams since the NFL's Browns in 1964.
"It's a pretty neat set of circumstances," said Cleveland reliever Andrew Miller, the ALCS MVP. "Obviously the fans wish they had won quite a bit previously, but I think the Cubs are even going to overshadow us in that history."
While Chicago has many famous fans, among them actor Bill Murray and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Cleveland is rooted on by Tom Hanks and Drew Carey. And Cleveland's losing history received nationwide attention in the 1989 film "Major League," featuring Charlie Sheen as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn.
Maddon prepared for the Series while watching some baseball movies, "42" - "we had to beat the Dodgers before I could watch it" - and "Field of Dreams."
"I'm that guy," he said. "I cry easily, so the connection to the past is very important, very important."
Mississippi isn't expected to drop below 10 feet until Saturday
Could be a big weekend for duck hunters, though maybe a little unusual.
Opening day for the Mississippi and southern zones of Wisconsin is Saturday.
La Crosse DNR warden Ed McCann says he hasn't seen an opener quite like this with all of the flooding. It has made for lots of open water with not much cover.
"I don't think it really impacts them launching their boats as much as it impacts the ability to find places to hunt and to hide their boats," McCann said.
Duck hunters will be out a half hour before sunrise searching.
"A bunch of islands are under water and all the wild rice is knocked down already because of the current," McCann said. "So, there's not going to be a lot of places for people to hide their boats."
But, there are plenty of birds to be had for those who are able to deal with the unusual variable of extremely high water levels, McCann mentioned.
"I haven't seen it like this before in the fall," McCann said. "I've seen high water before, but not where we've had a flood this close to the opening to water fowl season. It'll be interesting.
"But, anybody who has experience on the Mississippi River, I don't think there will be that much different than your normal springtime levels."
The Mississippi at La Crosse isn't expected to drop below 10 feet until after Saturday - 10 feet is still the point where local regulations don't allow wakes behind boats.
Project estimated to cost $800,000
In just a few weeks, at most, a big renovation will begin at Copeland Park in La Crosse.
The La Crosse Loggers baseball team has been planning for major updates at the park for the last couple years. The wrecking ball starts the fun in the middle of October, says GM Chris Goodell.
A city committee will review the $800,000 project, which is being paid for by the team.
"The hope is to get all the base work pieces into the ground here before the snowfall and the flakes start to hit and the ground starts to freeze," Goodell said, "so they can work throughout the winter and have our brand new building and entrance up and ready to go by Opening Day 2017."
Along with a big upgrade in the concessions area and pro shop, the club is also building an actual ticket office and - maybe most importantly - three times as many women's restrooms.