Did the Cubs throw the 1918 World Series

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This isn’t exactly new — there was a book written about it a couple of years ago — but the Associated Press is circulating the story in light of some of the relevant documents becoming public, so why not:  Did the Cubs throw the 1918 World Series to the Red Sox, inspiring the White Sox to do the same the next year?

The central piece of evidence is a deposition given by Eddie Cicotte in 1920 in which he suggested that the White Sox got the idea to throw the 1919 World Series from the Cubs. It’s all very vague — Cicotte really just talks about how others on the White Sox talked about how some Cubs players were offered money to do it — but it’s an interesting glimpse all the same.  If the subject interests you, I’d suggest the book linked above, as a couple of readers emailed me within the past hour telling me that it’s pretty decent.  The book’s author is quoted in the AP report.

And if the Cubs did throw the series? Given that the Black Sox did it again the next year and set in motion the new rules of baseball that cracked down on gambling, the Cubs’ legacy of baseball grifting is more a point of ancient history than anything of lasting significance. After all, people don’t talk about 1919 being awful because of how the Cincinnati Reds’ title was sullied. It’s all about the integrity of the game and the changes it brought about. In that respect, it was a travesty for a year, even if it was unknown, but then superseded in significance by the acts of their southside counterparts.

Although, man, if this was discovered before the Red Sox won it all in 2004, it’s possible that Yankees fans would have taken to chanting “1916!” instead of “1918!” to taunt the Bosox. Assuming 1916 wasn’t fixed too.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.