What SF5, Season 2 Taught us About Capcom

Seasons in competitive gaming are becoming more and more commonplace, from games like League of Legends to Killer Instinct it would seem that companies are more and more dedicated to a ‘Season’ update pattern. Luckily for us gamers, Season allow us to easily see the direction that a game is going and analyze the development philosophy of the team behind it, for example:

 

Capcom has taken a page from Riot Games’ Book

 

This may as well be gone now.

This may as well be gone now.

You know, the League of Legends guys? This is going to upset someone, but the proof is there. Capcom has looked to nerf anything that is objectively ‘unfun’ to be losing against or to play against. For example, the grey health regeneration change is another hit to the defensive playstyle in general (Something that got kneecapped by the release of SF5 for whatever reason), further promoting an aggressive playstyle, lessening the tactical sandbox that fighting games tend to be for the sake of people not having to deal with turtl-y players or rewarding them for playing their style well. But at least it’s more fun, right?

 

Well, that depends on who you are, but Capcom doesn’t really care for that, they have pushed SF5 as the premier fighting game E-Sport, and that means not only do they seek players. but they seek viewers as well. You know what that means, or maybe you don’t, good thing I’m here, read on.

 

There’s no place in SF5 for anything that isn’t fun or easy to watch and understand.

If you played USF4, you know what I’m talking about. The constant back and forth movements of the characters and careful fireballs, the stare downs between a turtle style Ryu and Guile (Bet you forgot Guile used to be defensive). None of that has any place in this game, and I know someone is going to defend the game by saying there have been some arbitrarily small number of times where actual clear footsies have been played (You know, USF4 style), but those small numbers are in no way proportional to the almost year of time the game has existed. Why is it like this? Because new viewers can’t, or won’t care to watch the invisible high level gameplay and look into understanding what they’re seeing. Forcing people to do research isn’t how you retain casual players, or viewers, and Capcom knows it.

 

Capcom enjoys the Hollywood take on capitalizing on nostalgia

 

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You’ve seen these characters before? I’ve seen these characters before.

 

“Hey guys, you want some balancing where we strengthen the characters strengths, and increase the prominence of their weaknesses in the event that we made them too strong?”

 

“Yes, papa Capcom! While we’re at it, can you bring back those beautifully unique characters like Makoto and Yang?”

 

“Oh you mean a powerful rushdown shoto like Akuma?”

 

“Well, no we already ha–”

 

“TAKE AKUMA AND PAY US!”

 

 

Do you agree with what I’ve said here? Do you think that these are good things? Do you feel like these will be the death of SF5? Do you just think I’m full of it and am a USF4 fanboy crying about not being able to adjust to the game? You can let me know these things and more on twitter @TirasCarr! Thanks for reading!

A Happy Game Haus Thankgiving

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to do a Thanksgiving piece and give our readers a chance to get to know us a little better! Below are some of the staff members of TGH telling you all what they are thankful for this holiday season. From Our Haus to Yours, have a very happy Game Haus Thanksgiving!

Jared MacAdam- Head of Esports: Well, I’ll go first, being the only Canadian and my Thanksgiving has passed quite some time ago. I’m thankful for the way this site has grown since its inception, how many great writers we’ve had and all the awesome content we’ve produced. I’m also immensely thankful for the way esports has matured in the past year; we’re seeing leaps and strides in key areas like players well being and stability. It’s an exciting thing to experience and to have a little part in. I’m also thankful for all the weirdos in the Front Office who lovingly mock my Canadianisms.

Josh Burris – Editor: I am thankful for sports. I am a proud Cleveland fan and with the exception of the Browns, good things are happening with our teams. I’m thankful I got to see a Cleveland team win a title. I am also thankful for my family and friendships I have at home, school, and from this site.

Ryan Moran – CFO: I am thankful for family, friends, and football. I am also thankful to be working for TGH and to belong to such an exciting community of sports and esports. I am also thankful of the unifying power of sports and their ability to bring anybody together win or lose.

Tim Miller – Vice President: Of course, when talking about being thankful, I have to be thankful for the opportunity to help lead The Game Haus. I’m also thankful to root for the mighty Ohio State Buckeye football team, and that Marvin Lewis should get fired after this year. I’m also thankful for a loving family and loving girlfriend. Finally, I’m thankful to live in a great country with freedoms like no other (no matter how you feel currently), and to go to a solid, christian university in Cedarville University.

Robert Hanes- President: While these last 365 days have been some of the most challenging times in my life, I can say that I have so many things to be grateful for. To start, everyone here at The Game Haus. These people are incredible, as you can read in their paragraphs of what they are thankful for. They have all gone through many things and have worked their butts off while working here. So thank you to all of the Front Office Members, Writers, Podcasters, and League Team Members! I am also very thankful for my friends. They have helped me through some tough times throughout the last year and I do not know where I would be without them. The same can be said for my Father, Mother and Sister. They have been my rocks as I have struggled many times this year. Lastly I am thankful to God and his son, while it sounds cheesy I know they have been with me every step of the way. From Our Haus to Yours, thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

Terrance Singleton- Social Media Director: I am thankful for the life God has given me. Every time the holiday season comes around I think about how easily I couldn’t be here. My grandfather died on November 19, 2010 right before Thanksgiving. And I was in a pretty bad car accident on December 27, 2012 that broke my neck and cut my scalp open. So every time the holiday season rolls around I always think about how precious life, family, friends, and faith are important in my life and everyone’s life. So on this Thanksgiving when you are watching NFL football games and eating food until you can’t move, tell your loved ones how much you love them because tomorrow is not promised.

Dylan Streibig- NFL Writer: Whether we realize it or not, we all have a lot to be thankful for.  I am no exception this Thanksgiving or any other year. I am thankful to have a roof over my head and a family that loves me. I am grateful for the fantastic sporting events that go on all around the world. They provide me a momentary escape from my life with a physical disability. I am also thankful for my dog and the fact that I am now a published sports writer thanks to The Game Haus. Most of all, I am thankful for the loyalty of my close friends who do not give up on me, even when I give up on myself.

Matthew Hagan- Columnist: I’m thankful for the opportunity The Game Haus has presented me with. Writing about my favorite sport, football, and offering me a column has been one of the best things in my life. I am thankful to have parents, family and friends support while trying to get a degree in college. My mom has been the biggest reason I have made it this far and I am so thankful that I get to fly back to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with her. I am also thankful I got to see the Cubs win a World Series and attend the victory parade in Chicago. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had in this amazing country. I am proud to be an American and this Thanksgiving is going to be one of the best ever. Thank you to everyone who reads my articles, weather you agree or disagree with them. I want to wish anyone who reads this, and anyone who may not, a safe, fun and amazing Thanksgiving.

Alex Keller- Recruitment and Retention: What am I thankful for? Where can I even begin… I guess it would have to be with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if not for their love and support. But it’s so much more than that… the opportunity to even attend an institution like Georgia Tech, let alone graduate from it is an experience I’m incredibly thankful for. And of course, I have to thank everyone who’s been a part of making my experience with TGH so awesome. So, from our haus to yours, have a Happy Game Haus Thanksgiving everybody.

Hero Mastery: Understanding Reaper

You are Reaper, and you just got your ult. You feel your adrenaline pumping, your eyes darting across the map, the enemy tracer is occupied, Reinhardt is blocking your team, and the enemy Ana has proven that she can’t land a sleep dart to save the life of her firstborn. You teleport up to a higher point, leaving your team to defend the point on their own momentarily, and you laugh to yourself, the enemy team has no idea what’s coming. You wait for the enemy Mei to walk past the point at which you’re standing and then you drop down. You mash your ultimate button with all of the drama and energy of Yu-Gi-Oh drawing a card, or Goku turning Super Saiyan.

“Die, die, die!”

 

diediedie

You say it with him as Reaper becomes a Beyblade of whirling destruction and ruined KDA’s. Except no one’s KDA gets ruined. Mei becomes a block of ice, Zenyatta ults and you immediately get filled with bullet, arrows and whatever the hell it is Zarya shoots at you. You explode and seriously consider leaving the game. How did your team accomplish NOTHING with your sacrifice? How did it not work? Your PoTG hopes just went out the window and you got nothing for it. Your team loses the ensuing five-on-six and you’re tilting off the face of the planet, your only saving grace being that your teammates are too unobservant to realize what the turning point was that allowed them to push onto the point.

So where were the mistakes made? It stemmed from not understanding the basic rules of the game. The characters in Overwatch are balanced to have meaningful weaknesses and Reaper has his own. Short range and relatively few defensive abilities (Spectre Form is a lackluster one at best) are Reaper’s. The best way to counter these weaknesses is to be with a team, being the follow up makes the burden on the Reaper far less painful. It’s important to not believe that you must make your own plays by yourself. Let your engage…Well, engage.

An equally important idea is to remember to look for minor flanks and, if you’re confident in your abilities, to counter a flanker. If you haven’t got your ultimate, then looking for a setup for it isn’t necessary. Try to find the enemy Genji or Tracer, I promise they’ll be looking to get behind your team. Make them regret it. You’re strong in close quarters, and other flankers tend to be close range combatants, and even if you don’t kill them, leaving a stalemate will deny them the ability to take down your team. However, if you do manage to take them out, it becomes a 5v6 and that’s something to look forward to. If no one is trying to flank your team, then chances are you can find one of your own, kill the enemy Mercy in the confusion, buckshotting her from behind before making your exit, again, your team is up a person.

 

reaperflank

Flanking is everything here.

The most important part of the character is to realize that your job isn’t really to wipe the enemy team on your own. You want to look for the opportunity to create a player advantage for your team in the safest way possible for you. Aim to kill one, and leave to begin with. Then move on to realizing opportunities for multikills. If you can get a multikill you’ve done your job and then some. You want to use your mobility to pick off and assassinate people who are out of position, so that your team can use their abilities to take over the fight.

 

What do you think? Let me know if this helped you, or if you just think I suck in the comments below or @TirasCarr on twitter!

How Rob Manfred Can Build on the Game 7 Hype

Game 7 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians was the most viewed game in the past twenty-five years. The storyline was too good to be true for Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB. The big market Cubs and the beloved Indians were facing the longest World Series droughts in the MLB. Either way, one team was going to break their curse. It was the series that everybody was talking about as the series was unorthodox, but still emotionally gripping. In the end, it was the Cubs that survived victorious.

The hype surrounding the game had even the most casual of sports fans watching. Baseball is a sport often seen as stagnating with the young audience. One of Rob Manfred’s biggest issues is how to help grow a sport often seen as stale and slow. Often referred to as America’s pastime, the game truly does not feel like it has done everything it can to keep up with modern times to help reach an audience that will need to be captivated in order for baseball to flourish over the next couple of decades. This article will provide just a couple things that could be done to help modernize the game.

First off, it is hard for millennials to watch their favorite team play without having to go to a bar. The MLB has been making strides to make the games more accessible for cord-cutters, but truthfully, their efforts have not been enough. MLB.TV was a good first step to providing the entertainment, as $85 to have the ability to watch all or your team’s 162 games is a bargain. Local blackouts, however, hinder the fans who are in their team’s regional TV coverage. For example, if a fan of Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh lives in Columbus, Ohio, they would not be able to watch their team play on MLB.TV due to these blackout rules unless they had a cable subscription (defeating the purpose of buying MLB.TV).

 

 

mlb_blackout_areas

Above is the blackout map for each state. Poor Iowans have up to six teams in their blackout zone, hurting cord cutters in the state. Photo courtesy of wikimedia.

Now, the reason why these blackout rules exist is because cable companies know the only chance to survive the cord cutting trend is to save their sports channels. Of course, their are ways to circumvent the blackout rules through shady means, but truthfully, the casual viewer does not want to go to that length just to watch their local team.  Team owners, Manfred, and cable companies need to come to some agreement to avoid these blackouts. Sadly, this may never be the case, as baseball owners make a ton of money off all these regional sports channel agreements . Oftentimes, these agreements make up a significant portion of the money used to fund the roster of many small market teams. If Manfred is serious about making baseball more appealing to the millennials, he needs to find a way to make baseball more accessible to the fans. He also needs to find a way for an individual to stream their local team.

The second step revolves around a debate that has been surrounding baseball for years now. On one side of the aisle is the viewpoint of baseball as a gentleman’s game, where celebrations are mild and respect is shown by a player to the opposing team. More recently, however, has been a slowly growing movement of players that are not afraid to step out of that zone and celebrate a big hit. Jose Bautista may have received the most venom for his 2015 ALCS Game 6 bat flip, but it is moments like that that resonate with the young fans. Obviously there should be limits to the celebration. I’m not talking about letting a man break dance on home plate after hitting a monster home run, but let the hitter slowly walk out of the box as he hits his moonshot. Maybe, just maybe, let the hitter flip his bat back to his dugout in excitement without being afraid of getting belted by a fastball his next time up to bat.

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Dodgers

Jose Bautista is not the only player with a legitimate bat flip. Yasiel Puig, often mired in controversy, has been flipping bats after home runs ever since he started in the majors. Photo courtesy of cbssports.com

It does not stop with the hitters. Pitchers have their fair share of celebrating already. Fist bumps are very common among relievers and closers who pitch out of a jam. The issue is that pitchers normally go unpunished for celebrating, unlike the hitters who may have to go up later in the game and get hit on purpose for celebrating a little too much. Baseball should be promoting these moments of personality, not letting hitters get crushed by both opposing pitchers and media pundits that are stuck in the “old ways” of baseball. Baseball needs personality out on the field, not robots.

Last, but not least, surrounds the World Baseball Classic. The hype machine needs to start today on getting America prepared for it. A rather new tradition, the WBC is the World Cup of Baseball, which is played every four years. Players should be honored to represent their teams, especially as the sport is strong in not just America, but Asia and the Caribbean as well. Most importantly, however, is that baseball needs the best Americans representing the United States. Manfred then needs to get the WBC accessible to all kinds of fans and not try to make people watch the games on FS1 or other weird channels very few people actually utilize.

The last WBC Team USA squad in 2013 definitely had some recognizable names, featuring a young Giancarlo Stanton, prime Ryan Braun and Adam Jones, and Captain America himself, David Wright. Frankly, the rest of the roster was full of players adored in their personal market and team fandom, but often unrecognized on the bigger stages. Think of an infield of Buster Posey, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant. Now couple that infield with an outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper. Not only does that give you one of the best teams truly ever assembled in baseball (better than most fan voted all-star teams even), but also gives plenty of young personalities from many different markets all across the US that can get each area to rally around the team.

The downside of the WBC has always been the fear of overuse on the players before the season starts. An understandable fear, and one faced by many sports who have the same international competition. Injuries are avoided as much as possible, but they are also natural and going to occur regardless of players participating in this tournament, or in just regular spring training. Have MLB promote this as truly a world tournament and get people interested, even if it is 1/10th as popular as the FIFA World Cup, and that momentum could carry over into the regular season.

In the end, baseball is such a different sport for viewers than many of the other popular sports. Football, Hockey, and Basketball are all fast paced and timed. Baseball is both untimed and slower moving, with each pitch taking as long as a football play. Josh Burris outlined here why baseball is a fun sport to watch, as many casual fans experienced this World Series. Making local teams more accessible for cord-cutters in the team’s region would be a valuable first step to let younger fans enjoy the sport. Letting the players exhibit more flair and style into their play can make the game more fun and exciting for a group of fans that spend their time watching vines and memes on the internet daily. Finally, sell the crap out of the World Baseball Classic to not only expose the brand on an international market, but also help casual and new American fans meet the biggest American players on a competitive squad. Rob Manfred has a lot on his plate for the future. Only time will tell how baseball’s popularity will transition from here.

 

You can ‘like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers. “From our Haus to Yours”

 

 

How Did the Cubs Build a World Series Squad?

The Chicago Cubs won Game seven of the World Series on Wednesday, ending the longest drought in MLB history. In one of the most exciting games in baseball history, the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in extra innings and were thus crowned World Champions. GM Theo Epstein has assembled a team in Chicago that is built for the long haul, a team that can truly compete for the next five World Series. How did Theo Epstein assemble such a talented squad of players?

The answer may seem simple, but in truth, is a lot harder than it sounds. Epstein nailed his draft picks and won more of his trades than he lost. Before the 2016 season commenced, Epstein knew his team had a chance to compete, and went out and signed players that could fill the missing roles in the team. It is a recipe for success that Epstein established at his previous tenure in Boston where he had broken another curse in 2004 before winning the 2007 World Series with Boston as well.

Epstein began his most recent tenure in Chicago in October 2011. He would proceed to finish in the cellar of the division his first three seasons before getting to the NLCS in 2015 and winning the World Series in 2016. This is important because those three seasons in the cellar led to very nice draft picks for Epstein and the Cubs organization.

epstein

Theo Epstein assembled a World Series team in 5 years. Could he be considered one of the greatest GMs of all time? Photo courtesy of Boston.com

2012, aka Epstein’s first draft, led to the Cubs drafting Albert Almora Jr. with the 6th overall pick. The 2013 MLB Draft saw the Cubs owning the second overall pick, which would be used on Kris Bryant. 2014 sparked controversy for the Cubs, as the organization drafted Kyle Schwarber, which was seen as a reach for the Cubs at the time by pundits. These three first rounders were all on the World Series squad, with Bryant and Schwarber both contributing heavily with their production at the plate.

Epstein was a trade machine in Boston, and the same philosophy carried over to his tenure in Chicago. Epstein was a master of selling players at their peak and actually netting a strong return in terms of prospects. For example, the Cubs traded Scott Feldman to help shore up Baltimore’s rotation in exchange for reliever Pedro Strop and starter Jake Arrieta. Arrieta had never pitched with great success in Baltimore, averaging an ERA of 5.46 while playing for the Orioles. Since joining the Cubs, his ERA since 2013 has averaged out to 2.52 over his last three seasons.

Arrieta is not the only present core Cub to be received in a trade. Anthony Rizzo, a stud first base prospect at the time, was picked up from San Diego for a package built around Andrew Cashner. Cashner  had some inconsistent success in San Diego, but Rizzo is currently one of the top first basemen in all of baseball. The Cubs traded starter Ryan Dempster, who was having a very strong season in his own right, to the Rangers in exchange for Kyle Hendricks. Addison Russell was also picked up in a trade by Epstein, who had to give up Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel (yes, the same Hammel who would go on to resign with the Cubs in the following offseason) for the package built around Russell.

russell

Addison Russell is the reason Starlin Castro was traded by Epstein. Russell proved the faith was true as he knocked in 6 RBIs in Game 6 of the World Series. Photo courtesy of realsport101.com

Epstein also made the right decision in regards to personnel choices on the roster. Epstein had acquired a plethora of talent at nearly every position in the minors. Epstein leaned on this talent as he traded veterans to be replaced by the inexperienced rookies. Epstein dumped Starlin Castro so both Addison Russell and Javier Baez could have starting positions in the Cubs middle infield. Plenty of talent were traded or axed for marginal returns to make room for the future stars of the Cubs. Yet, despite all these wily veterans being traded, none of the talent really amounted to much after the trades. The biggest names include players like Justin Ruggiano, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Zambrano, and Alfonso Soriano.

Looking at all this wheeling and dealing, Epstein is bound to come across a couple trades that could be viewed as losses right? In all honesty, there is really only two trades that could be viewed as losses and both trades have reasonable defense for the action. First, was DJ LeMahieu being traded to the Rockies. LeMahieu has since produced an All-Star season playing second base for the Rockies, but the trade can be defended as Epstein already had his future middle infield in Castro and Baez (with Russell on the way). The only other lost trade was trading Welington Castillo to Seattle for next to nothing. Truth be told, Castillo never really was an offensive threat in Chicago, and the Cubs had already turned to alternatives to replace him at the catching position.

In truth, Epstein has been nearly flawless in constructing this 2016 World Champion squad. A few things shook out in his favor, like Jake Arrieta shaking off his kinks and becoming an ace pitcher. That being said, every team needs a little luck to win in the playoffs. Epstein’s impact trades and draft picks have setup the Cubs for success for the next five years. Now the final test will be to see if Epstein and the Cubs can sustain this success for the next decade or so, potentially putting together a team that can be a true dynasty, much to the dismay of the rest of the NL Central.

Cleveland Indians Prove That Money is Not Everything

The Cleveland Indians are one win away from being World Series Champions for the 2016 season. Unexpected by most MLB pundits at the beginning of the season, the Indians are in the driver’s seat as games 6 and 7 (if necessary) will be played at Progressive Field (The Jake). The Indians have a nice young core of players in place that even if the Indians were to fail this year, the team has the potential to return the next few seasons to attempt to become champions again.

The Indians have this kind of exciting future because of years of rebuilding that is very common among small market teams. Unlike any other major sport in the United States, the MLB does not have a salary cap. Thus, the lack of salary cap has divided teams into two categories, small market and large market teams.

Small market teams are exactly that, a team that does not throw around a lot of money (relatively speaking) on the free agency market. The team can still be from a major city, but will more than likely look to trade a player to maximize a return instead of keeping them for the rest of the year if the team feels it cannot make a playoff run, especially if the team feels they will not be able to resign them in the offseason.

Small market team success is almost always cyclical, as the team will rise to a peak around a core group of players for a couple of seasons, only to lose said players to teams that can afford them once free agency hits. Losing these players will lead to down seasons until the team acquires a new young core to take the place of the old.

Cleveland Indians

Pablo Sandoval is a modern example of large market money being wasted. Pablo is making $19 million a year to ride the bench for the Red Sox. Photo courtesy of USATSI

Large market teams are the teams that always feel the media pressure to win, and as such, tend to shell out more money once free agency hits during the offseason. Often found in the largest American cities, these teams tend to experience the most success and the biggest national brands. Money not being an issue for these teams may create more success for their fans, but oftentimes, large market teams draw the disdain of the smaller market fans because of the money.

Teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox can afford to take more risks on the market, handing out too much money on players who can bust and still not hurt the team too badly.

The Cleveland Indians fall into the category of the former as one of the many small market teams in the MLB. The Indians were one of the top American League teams through the late 1990’s before losing their core and starting the rebuild.

From 2002 through the end of 2012 (11 total seasons), the Indians finished with an above .500 record only twice (three times if you consider 2008 where they finished exactly .500). The Indians spent that decade signing and drafting the core in place now, trading away notable players like Bob Wickman, C.C. Sabathia, and Cliff Lee. In return, the Indians received many failed and fringe talents, but also received future studs like Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley.

Receiving prospects for proven talent is a tricky business in the MLB. Scouting is very important, as the majority of prospects never make it in the MLB.  The MLB draft is important as prospects establish the core of every small market team.

So much can go wrong before these prospects make the majors, that said it can truly take some teams a decade or more for a true rebuild to occur. Modern medicine and scouting techniques have helped improve a team’s chances of landing a stud prospect, but sometimes luck is what a team needs more than anything.

The Cleveland Indians drafted Cody Allen in the 16th round of the 2010 amateur draft. Cody Allen is now a top-10 closer on a potential World Series champion team.

Cleveland Indians

Corey Kluber may pitch like an ace now, but he was not drafted like it. Klubot was drafted in the 4th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the San Diego Padres. He would later be sent to the Indians in a 3 team deal involving Ryan Ludwick and Jake Westbrook.

Small market teams must prioritize who to spend money on once free agency looms for their core. These teams can not afford all their players, so these teams must pick and choose who they can keep.

The Cincinnati Reds faced this dilemma in regards to their rotation when the team peaked in 2012. The Reds could only afford to pay one of their three stud pitchers of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Homer Bailey. The Reds picked Bailey from the bunch, who has had a career marred by injuries since signing his contract extension.

The Indians will have some difficult decisions with their bullpen in the future as well. Picking the right players to pay will not be the only factor in keeping a small market team afloat, but it will expedite the rebuild and keep the excitement going for most fans.

The Indians appearance in the 2016 World Series gives faith to most small market teams, showing that their is a light at the end of the rebuild tunnel. Building through the draft and acquiring prospects may be hard for fans to watch in the early going, but when done effectively, will provide a core that will give the team an opportunity to win it all a few years down the road. The Indians construction of a young and elite rotation, a good core of hitters, and a dominant bullpen gives a recipe for other small market teams to follow. It is truly up to the scouting and development of each team to effectively implement the blueprint to succeed.

The Indians are not the first small market team to reach such success and they will definitely not be the last. Fans of small market teams, nevertheless, are happy to see the Indians in the World Series simply to reaffirm the belief that someday their team will be in the same spot once their process is complete. Having the Indians defeat a large market team like the Chicago Cubs would just be icing on the cake for most of these fans.

X-factors For Each World Series Team

Two games down and the series is split 1-1. The teams alternated who would dominate each game, as the Tribe took Game 1 with a masterful pitching performance from Corey Kluber and a couple of bombs from Roberto Perez. The Cubs took Game 2 with Jake Arrieta pitching well in his 5 2/3 innings and the Cubs playing some small ball to get their win. This article will analyze some of the players that may not be superstars, but will be relied upon nevertheless by both teams.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs showed Game 2 why their lineup is one of the most feared in baseball. The team constantly worked the count and strung plenty of hits together to produce a lead that would not be surrendered. One player who has been producing all playoffs, only sputter out in the World Series so far is Javier Baez.

Baez was the best hitter for the Cubs all postseason before the World Series. The man has accumulated 22 TB’s (Total Bases) and a .316 avg so far this playoffs, but only 2 of his 15 hits have come from Games 1 and 2 this World Series. Baez is in an important position of the lineup, hitting behind Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist, who have been the hottest hitters for the Cubs between the first two games. Baez needs to hit like he did in the ALCS and ALDS to knock in the hot hitters in front of him and maximize the run support for the rotation, especially since The Cubs Official Twitter Page has already come out and said Schwarber has not been medically cleared to play the field. Baez has always had high K totals, but has been able to hit at a well enough clip to still be included in the Cubs lineup, now is the time to prove he belongs.

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Kyle Hendricks is one of the many young Cubs players that have stepped up all playoffs. How will he pitch in one of the biggest games in Wrigley Field history? Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The rotation is the one part of the team the Cubs have been able to truly rely upon all season. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester were expected to produce, but it is Kyle Hendricks who has seemingly come out of nowhere to be the best pitcher for the Cubs this season. Hendricks was a little rocky his first start in the NLDS, but rebounded big time in the NLCS.

Hendricks made two starts in the NLCS, putting together a stat line that nobody could frown upon. in 12 2/3 innings, Hendricks only gave up one run (0.71 ERA) and managed a WHIP of 0.71 as well, amassing 11 k’s in the process. The fact he did not get two wins in the NLCS just goes to show why wins is not a good stat for comparing pitchers. His biggest stage is still yet to come, however, as he will pitch the first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945. Hendricks will also be relied upon to pitch either Game 6 or 7 if the series reaches that point. A Cubs team that relies so much on the rotation pitching well, it will be fun to watch to see if Hendricks is up to the task.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians dominated Game 1 of the World Series. Corey Kluber twirled a pitching gem before getting pulled early for one of the best 1-2 relief punches in baseball of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Game 2 saw the opposite, as Trevor Bauer constantly put his teams into jams and the hitting seemingly disappeared. The Indians only run Game 2 came from a wild pitch. Now the Indians go to Wrigley for three games, hoping to pull out at least one win to give themselves a chance at home.

In order to pull the win, however, the Tribe needs their star to step up. Jason Kipnis may not be as big a name as he should, but he is worshipped in Cleveland (maybe not after his two errors in Game 2). 2016 was a rebound season for the man who has always had double digit stolen bases, but finally put up more than 20 home runs in a season (23, which cannot be a coincidence right?). All postseason, however, Kipnis’ has been putrid, only putting together 6 hits in 39 AB’s (.154 BA). Hitting second in the lineup, he needs to get on base in front of Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli. Kipnis is no slouch on the basepaths either, which leads to Lindor and Napoli seeing more fastballs and hopefully jumpstarting the Indians offense. The Indians offense is going to need somebody to get the lineup going, as playing a World Series game at Wrigley is a very difficult experience.

The second X-factor for the Indians is a big name player, their best pitcher, Corey Kluber. The truth is, Kluber may have to start three games in a seven game series, potentially pitching games 4 and 7 to go with his game 1 start. The man is a machine (or Klubot), who despite a rough April, put together a potential Cy Young season to lead a young rotation through much of the season.

kluber

Kluber has been lights out all postseason. Can he carry that momentum into Games 4 and 7 this World Series? Picture courtesy of the USA Today

Kluber has carried that momentum into the postseason, where he has been unrelenting to opposing hitters. The man has made 4 starts this postseason, giving up only 2 ER’s the whole time. He has a K/9 of 10.73, which is comparable to a stud reliever, but done with a sample size almost five times larger. Indians manager Terry Francona knows he needs Kluber to win this series, which is partially why Kluber was only pulled 88 pitches into Game 1, despite not giving up  a run through 6 innings. Kluber gives the Indians the best chance to win, so having him pitch potentially three games this series will be an interesting experiment for the Tribe, but one that should pay dividends for the team if history is anything to go by for Kluber.

In the end, baseball is a team game, where anything can happen and anybody can step up and elevate the team. That being said, the aforementioned players elevating their game for the rest of the World Series will be a large step forward for either team who are looking to go home World Champs.

 

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