Did the Cubs throw the 1918 World Series

13 Comments

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 In that respect, it was a travesty for a year, even if it was unknown, but then superseded in significance by the acts of their southside counterparts.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: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.