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For the second straight year a long championship drought will come to an end

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With the Cubs dispatching the Giants and their Even Year Magic last night, they’re now four wins away from being in the World Series for the first time since 1945. They’re eight wins away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. You know that already, however, because the 1945-leveled Billy Goat Curse and the year 1908 has been repeated ad nauseam in recent weeks and will be repeated more and more during the NLCS.

But even if the Cubs don’t win another game, we’re still going to have a quite lengthy championship drought come to an end this year. And that’s the case no matter who wins it all. The rundown:

CHICAGO CUBS

Last World Series Win: 1908
Last Pennant: 1945
Last NLCS: 2015

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Last World Series Win: 1988
Last Pennant: 1988
Last NLCS: 2013

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Last World Series Win: Never
Last Pennant: Never
Last NLCS: 1981, as the Montreal Expos

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Last World Series Win: 1948
Last Pennant: 1997
Last ALCS: 2007

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Last World Series Win: 1993
Last Pennant: 1993
Last ALCS: 2015

As you can see, some of these teams have recent League Championship Series experience, but none of them have even appeared in a World Series in the past 16 years and none of them have won it all since the Blue Jays 23 years ago. It has been 28 years for the Dodgers, 47 years of zero championships for the Expos/Nats franchise, 68 years for the Indians and 108 years for the Cubs. That’s pretty large number of aggregate years of frustration.

This makes it the second year in a row that we’re poised to have a substantial World Series drought ended, as the Royals won for the first time in 30 years and, if they had lost, the Mets would’ve won for the first time in 29. Before that, however, long, drought-ending championships were not annual occurrences, and it wasn’t terribly often that this many teams in the LCS (or in LCS contention in the case of the Dodgers and Nationals) were on the doorstep of making recent history.

The Giants have become common trophy-hoisters in recent years, but in 2010 they ended a 56-year drought. The Yankees and Phillies were in the penultimate round, however, threatening the continuation of their then-recent success.

In 2008 the Phillies stopped 28 years of bleeding, but the Red Sox were in the ALCS. In 2005 the White Sox ended 88 years without a championship by beating an Astros franchise which has still never won it all. They spared us the Angels and Cardinals for that Fall Classic. The year before the Red Sox famously ended an 86 year alleged curse, beating the Yankees in the ALCS and the Cards in the World Series. In 2002 the Angels won their first championship in their 42 seasons by defeating a Giants team which had spent, at that time, 48 years searching.

Before that you have to go back to 1995 when the Braves ended a 38-year drought over an Indians club then working on 47 years of futility. The only other team in the LCS with recent glory that year were the Cincinnati Reds, five years removed from he 1990 title.

In 2015 we would’ve witnessed, at minimum, a 22 year drought end, as the Blue Jays made the ALCS, with the Cubs, Mets and Royals all dealing with their own long journeys through the playoff wilderness. We have that situation once again. That may not be very good news for Giants and Red Sox fans, but it’s a lot of fun for fan bases who have not had reason to celebrate when the season finally ended in recent years. And it’s a lot of fun for those of us who think championship variety is the spice of baseball.

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.