Francona’s been there, Maddon would like to do that

Francona (left) has broken one franchise curse and strikes to break another; Maddon would settle for breaking one right now.

Francona (left) has broken one franchise curse and strikes to break another; Maddon would settle for breaking one right now.

Terry Francona has been here and done that. If there’s anyone in baseball who knows what it’s like to steer a team heretofore in the wilderness and under heavy curses, actual or alleged, it’s Francona.

A man who shepherded the once-snake bitten Red Sox to shove back with everything they had, only beginning when Dave Roberts stole second on Mariano Rivera with the Sox three outs from an elimination sweep, isn’t exactly going to let a Cub uprising in Game Five of this World Series bite him that hard.

Chapman, Cubs answer the “big ask”

Eight outs? Sure! Why the hell not?

Eight outs? Sure! Why the hell not?

Something unexpected happened in Wrigley Field Sunday night. The Cubs—the real Cubs, the ones you watched or heard about all regular season long, the ones you remember from their pre-World Series postseason rounds—came to the ballpark.

They left their impressions of Cub calamities past somewhere. Who knows where? Who cares? The hosts who let the Indians make off with the valuables and leave them tied up in the closet didn’t wait for the cops.

For these Indians, the Cubs are hosts too gracious

IT'S NOT LIKE HE DIDN'T TRY TO WARN YOU---Kipnis (right, with Crisp) said he wanted to bust every heart in Chicago, and his three-run homer in Game Four went a long way to proving it Saturday night . . .

IT’S NOT LIKE HE DIDN’T TRY TO WARN YOU—Kipnis (right, with Crisp) said he wanted to bust every heart in Chicago, and his three-run homer in Game Four went a long way to proving it Saturday night . . .

Apparently, nobody showed the Cubs Jason Kipnis’s Game Three postgame remarks. Just as apparent in Game Four, it almost wouldn’t have mattered if someone had.

The Indians spent the fourth game of this World Series earning the respect they think, not unreasonably, they’ve been denied. A 7-2 win which felt like they were never behind despite an embryonic 1-0 Cub lead does that for you.

Tight Indians win, big Indians mouth

Kipnis may yet learn how nice it isn't to insult another team with a long-suffering fan base . . .

Kipnis may yet learn how nice it isn’t to insult another team with a long-suffering fan base . . .

Jason Kipnis, the Indians’ two-time All-Star second baseman, grew up in a Chicago suburb with dreams of playing the World Series in Wrigley Field. Dreams shared by a few million Cub fans who couldn’t wait to get the party started when the World Series finally came to Wrigley Field after lo these many decades.

And after his Indians managed to squeeze their way to a 1-0 Game Three win in the Confines, Kipnis took into consideration the broken hearts in the ballpark, in front of the television sets, next to the radios, wherever Cub Country congregated, and had words for those hearts.

The Cubs, the Indians, and their worst. trades. ever.

Rocky Colavito Lou Brock Colavito for Kuenn. Brock for Broglio. Decades to recover. Of all the actual or alleged curses inflicted upon the Indians and the Cubs, maybe none of them impacted each franchise the way those two deals did.

One involved a slugging, run-productive outfielder who seemed Hall of Fame bound until injuries finally took their toll. The other became a Hall of Fame outfielder whose particular stock in trade was leading off magnificently, with a little power and a lot of contact ability, then turning games into track meets and crime scenes with his stolen base virtuosity.

Here, the stories behind each staggering deal.

Enter the Schwarbinator

The Schwarbinator drills the second of his two Game Two RBI singles in the fifth, this one off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.

The Schwarbinator drills the second of his two Game Two RBI singles in the fifth, this one off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw.

This is what we knew about Kyle Schwarber before this World Series: He made a splash—no, a tidal wave—in last year’s postseason. Including his parking of a meatball from St. Louis’s Kevin Siegrist atop the Wrigley Field scoreboard in the seventh inning of the division series clincher.

Lester’s no-thanks-throwing-over a danger? Yip.

At the end of his first spring training as a Cub, in April 2015, Jon Lester thought his issue about throwing over to first base—which he doesn’t, if he can help it, which is most of the time—was no big deal. He still didn’t think so when the Cardinals took big leads off him and used them to help themselves toward an early-season 3-0 win televised nationally.

The Cubs had Lindor picked off dead to right but Lester (on the mound) still wouldn't throw to first. (Marks by a CBS Sports technician.)

The Cubs had Lindor picked off dead to right but Lester (on the mound) still wouldn’t throw to first. (Marks by a CBS Sports technician.)

All Kluber, all Miller, all Perez, all Indians, all the Game One time

Corey KluberAs Yosemite Sam would have said, maybe that’ll learn me to keep my big mouth shut. Because if Game One of this World Series was any passable example, it looks like the Indians have the best ex-Red Sox so far.

Two such creatures appeared in the game. Jon Lester, who was deadly in two Series with the Olde Towne Team, started for the Cubs Tuesday night. Andrew Miller, who was converted to relief pitching in the first place while he was a teammate of Lester’s in Boston, showed up while the game was still manageable enough for the Cubs to think about coming back.

Will the team with the best ex-Red Sox win the Series?

Will Game One starter Jon Lester prove the best of either team's ex-Red Sox?

Will Game One starter Jon Lester prove the best of either team’s ex-Red Sox?

That was then: The team with the most ex-Cubs lost. This could be now: The team with the best ex-Red Sox wins.

The Cubs’ ex-Red Sox: Theo Epstein (president of baseball operations), Jon Lester (the Cubs’ World Series Game One starting pitcher), and John Lackey. The Indians’ ex-Red Sox: Terry Francona (manager), Mike Napoli (first baseman/designated hitter), and Andrew Miller (extraterrestrial relief pitcher).

Factors to consider:

The ballad of Tony Horton

A spring 1968 photograph, used on his 1970 baseball card, seems to predict Tony Horton's self-imposed collapse.

A spring 1968 photograph, used on his 1970 baseball card, seems to predict Tony Horton’s self-imposed collapse.

Two franchises steeped in calamity since their last known World Series triumphs. The Cubs and the Indians have had more than their share of horrific management, horrific fortune, and even horrific death.

Ken Hubbs, the Cubs’ 1962 National League Rookie of the Year second baseman, was killed in spring 1964 in a private plane crash. The sick irony is that Hubbs took up flying in order to conquer his fear of it.