From the best to just so-so

NEW YORK -- We could be watching World Series games from Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, the two oldest, most beloved ballparks in baseball. Instead, we'll watch them from a 10-year-old football stadium named after a sports apparel company that no longer is in business.

We could be watching the Red Sox end the 85-year-old Curse of the Bambino to win their first World Series since World War I. We could be watching the Cubs end the Billy Goat curse by playing in their first World Series since World War II and try to win their first championship since 1908. Instead, we'll see an expansion team that has been there twice since 1997 and the team that has been to the World Series so many times they ought to include it in their pocket schedule.

We could be watching fans sitting atop the Green Monster and atop the Wrigleyville rooftops. We could be watching Oprah and Michael Jordan singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame.'' We could be watching Sammy race out into right field and Pedro walking out to the mound.

Instead we'll watch the @#$@#**!!! Yankees play the Marlins. Assuming we watch at all.

One moment the Fox executives were anticipating the ultimate dream World Series, the Cubs vs. the Red Sox, a matchup that would have been the most anticipated championship in history that didn't include Jimmy Chitwood, Kelly Leak or Rocky Balboa. And then Friday morning they woke up to find a Marlins-Yankees series on their schedule, which must have been a bit like waking up and finding Marge Schott on your mattress.

Fox went from a World Series that would draw Super Bowl-type ratings to one that will draw Jim Belushi-sitcom ratings.

It's amazing isn't it? The Red Sox won the first World Series 100 years ago, then won four more before the Yankees even played in one. And then they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees and they haven't won a World Series since, while the Yankees have won more than anyone else (26).

Then there are the Cubs, who won the World Series in 1907 and 1908, back when they were so good they had poems written about them, back when it was the other team that always made the jaw-dropping, curse-invoking, incomprehensible mistake. And they haven't won a World Series since. They haven't even been back since 1945.

Their drought is so long that in the 1974 cult classic, "The Night Stalker," a TV show about vampires, werewolves, swamp monsters and the paranormal in Chicago, the most unbelievable thing in the entire series was the show in which the Cubs went to the World Series. I remember watching that episode and thinking, "The Cubs in the World Series? That's never going to happen. I can accept vampires and werewolves, but this show has lost all credibility.''

And the Cubs drought was only 29 years old at the time. It's twice as long now.

Meanwhile, the Marlins are going to the World Series for the second time in their 11-year history. They've only really tried to reach it two years and they've made it both years. They were 10 games under .500 in late May and they're still going to the World Series.

How is this possible? How can the Cubs and Red Sox play so many seasons, try so hard and spend so much money and still not accomplish their goal, while the Yankees can achieve theirs seemingly at will and the Marlins can reach theirs the only two times they've put in the actual effort?

As a loyal reader put it, "If these two teams aren't cursed, I would hate to see who is.''

So, this is how it winds up. What has been the best postseason in baseball history, what could have been the most promising World Series in history, ends up with the Yankees and the Marlins. A team that has been there too many times to be of interest to anyone outside New York and a team whose existence has been so short that it is barely of interest in south Florida.

(If Boston's fans are known as Red Sox Nation, what are Florida's? The Unincorporated Municipality of Marlins?)

It's hard to get much enthusiasm up for this series. When the Yankees play in the World Series, you at least can usually root for the other team. But how do you root for a team owned by Jeffery Loria, the man who destroyed baseball in Montreal and salted the earth and then was rewarded with a young, upcoming team? It's enough to make you retch.

Oh, there will be some compelling stories. Roger Clemens making his final start. Josh Beckett lighting up radar guns. Juan Pierre swiping bases and Pudge Rodriguez gunning down runners.

But it could have been so much better. It could have been the greatest series in history. It could have been something to remember all our lives.

It could have been the Red Sox and the Cubs.


Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.