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XOJET’s Guide to the 2016 World Series

By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio - World Series

No matter who wins this year’s World Series, it’s going to be one rollicking party.

Baseball’s annual Fall Classic drips with a distinctive brand of history in 2016. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians share a common bond, through decades of ineptitude – all forgiven now, because they both stand one step from the mountaintop.

But those long years of losing offer context to this year’s Series, starting October 25th in Cleveland. These are two of the sport’s oldest franchises, dating to 1876 for the Cubs (when they were known as the Chicago White Stockings) and 1901 for the Indians (then the Cleveland Blues). All this history, so little joy – that explains why Chicago and Cleveland are bursting at their seams in excitement.

The Cubs have won only two World Series championships in their 140 years of existence, and none since 1908. They earned their “Lovable Losers” label, failing to even reach the playoffs between 1945 and ’84. And let’s face it: The Cubs long ago became known more for Wrigley Field, a charming ballpark with ivy-covered outfield walls. Their greatest player, Ernie Banks, was as famous for his sunny disposition as his Hall-of-Fame achievements.

The Indians also have won only two titles in their 115 years, and none since 1948. Their fans endured a similarly empty stretch without a postseason appearance, between 1954 and ’95. Cleveland’s home field for most this time was not-so-affectionately known as “The Mistake on the Lake.” The Indians trotted out Hall of Famers, too – with pitcher Bob Feller as their signature star – but team success remained elusive.

Until now, at least. Now the Cubs and Indians roll into a widely anticipated clash absolutely worth watching.

HOW TO GET THERE

XOJET Challenger 300 Plane On Its Way to the World Series

With XOJET, which offers the largest floating fleet of super mid-size jets in North America, fans can easily catch the action in both cities even on such short notice as this. For those flying into Chicago, the airport of choice is Midway International Airport (MDW; about 35 minutes from Wrigley field), followed by Chicago Executive Airport (PWK; about 40 minutes from Wrigley Field), and O’Hare International Airport (ORD; about 40 minutes from Wrigley Field). And in Cleveland, your best bet is Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL; about 10 minutes from Progressive Field), then Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE; about 18 minutes from Progressive Field).

A case of easy go, easy come home, easy go back. Contact your personal Aviation Advisors (877-599-6538) or book online to reserve your private charter to both cities on the lakes.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

By Ron Kroichick, Sports Columnist/Feature Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

The Cubs cruised through the regular season, winning 103 games (most in the major leagues) while leaning on deep pitching and a dynamic young lineup. Not much changed in the playoffs, as they dispatched the Giants and surged back from a two-games-to-one deficit to eliminate the Dodgers.

Anthony Rizzo World Series

Anthony Rizzo

Chicago boasts the likely National League Most Valuable Player in third baseman Kris Bryant, a powerful first baseman in Anthony Rizzo, and the breakout star of the postseason in second baseman Javier Baez. But don’t be fooled: This team revolves around its starting pitching and dependable defense.

The Cubs have three ace-like starters in Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jake Arrieta, and a lights-out closer in Aroldis Chapman. They anchored a staff that led the majors in ERA during the regular season (at 3.15); Baez, shortstop Addison Russell and center fielder Dexter Fowler help with great, up-the-middle defense.

And the offense did score the third-most runs in baseball (808).

The Indians counter with a similar formula of superb pitching and defense bolstered by solid if unspectacular offense (fifth in runs at 777). They also found their groove in the playoffs, sweeping the Red Sox and smothering a potent Blue Jays offense.

Francisco Lindor World Series

Francisco Lindor; Photo: Keith Allison via Flickr

Cleveland manager Terry Francona had to scramble more than his Cubs counterpart, Joe Maddon. The Indians overcame several injuries to reach the World Series, none more untimely or bizarre than starting pitcher Trevor Bauer slicing open the pinky finger on his throwing hand while fixing his drone.

Yep, his drone. What would Bob Feller think of that?

The Indians will rely on their own ace, Corey Kluber, in Game 1 on Tuesday night. Kluber headlines a pitching staff that ranked seventh in the majors in ERA (3.84) and features two often-unhittable relievers in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

Cleveland’s offense includes a nice mix of veterans such as first baseman Mike Napoli and youngsters such as shortstop Francisco Lindor. This lineup will not intimidate the Cubs, but it’s capable enough to give the Indians hope of joining their basketball neighbors, LeBron James and the Cavs, in celebrating a title in 2016.

WHERE TO STAY

By Gary Walther, Former Editor-in-Chief of Departures Magazine

CHICAGO

Unless you have the keys (or connections) to an apartment near Wrigley Field, you’re not staying near there. Chicago has a Murderer’s Row (get the reference?) of great brand-name hotels, all of them downtown. Batting from first to fourth: The Langham (the only hotel in the world in a Mies van der Rohe building, and the only one on this list with an executive club lounge—occupying 3,000 square feet on the top floor, with panoramic views over the city), The PeninsulaFour Seasons, and Park Hyatt. The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, a convention hotel, is also a good bet given the number of rooms.

CLEVELAND

The Ritz-Carlton: It’s the heritage address and within walking distance to Progressive Field.  The Ritz-Carlton Club level is a good deal if you’re going spend a lot of time at the hotel, given the complimentary breakfast and appetizers.  A Corner Guest Room is the way to go if you want a view of the lake.

The Hilton Cleveland Down - Where to stay for the World Series 2016

The Hilton Cleveland Downtown:  Opened in June, this 32-story, 600-room hotel on Lakeside Avenue is a major addition to the downtown scene, a 15-minute walk and 5-minute cab ride from Progressive Field. There’s an indoor pool, 32nd-story sky bar, and the three-level Burnham restaurant, named for the architect who planned downtown Cleveland and also downtown Chicago. “Make no little plans,” he once said, and both teams have followed his prescription. The Hilton is geared up for pre-game euphoria and after-game celebration or commiseration. 

WHAT TO EAT

By Gary Walther, Former Editor-in-Chief of Departures Magazine

This World Series is the Midwest equivalent of a subway series: The Chicago Cubs versus the Cleveland Indians. From a dining perspective, it’s also a duel between one city, Chicago, that has established itself as a culinary world champion, and another, Cleveland, that is undergoing a downtown renaissance, no longer “The Mistake on the Lake.”

CHICAGO

It’s a Rohrschach Test. Are you a sophisticate (Les Nomades), down-home on the loose (Smoque BBQ), adventurer (Next Restaurant), Mexican authenticist (Topolobampo), or New American (Goosefoot)? Sure, right now you’re saying, “Where’s Alinea?” It’s there, but if you don’t already have tickets, it is nearly impossible to obtain them on short notice.  Your best bet is to call to check for cancellations.

CLEVELAND

Spice Kitchen and Bar Food

Photo: Kayla Schneider (Full Bloom Photography)

The three top restaurants are l’Albatros, Flying Fig, and Sans Souci. My Cleveland insider seconds l’Albatros, but also suggests a trio of not-so-obvious places near Progressive Field: Spice Kitchen and Bar, Crop Bistro, and Tremont Taphouse.


About the Contributors

Ron Kroichick has worked at the San Francisco Chronicle since 1995, when he came from the Sacramento Bee. He is the paper’s golf writer/columnist, writing a weekly column and covering the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and other Northern California events. He also writes features on the Golden State Warriors during the NBA season, and on various other topics – ranging from major-league baseball and the NFL to college football and basketball – the rest of the year.

Kroichick is a five-time honoree in the Golf Writers Association of America writing contest, placing first in daily news and third in daily features in 2010; earning honorable mention in daily news and daily features in 2011; and again earning honorable mention in daily features in 2013.

He also has been recognized five times by the Associated Press Sports Editors, including second place in best game story and best news story, third place in best feature, fifth place in best investigative reporting, and honorable mention in explanatory reporting (all in the over-250,000-circulation category).

His work can be found online at www.sfchronicle.com/sports and www.sfgate.com/sports

Gary Walther has been a travel journalist for 40 years. He has been editor-in-chief of Departures, Expedia Travels, Luxury SpaFinder, and Forbes Life magazines, and for the past five years a freelancer with a column on Forbes.com called The Hotel Detective. He has passport stamps from 61 countries and is a million-miler on American Airlines. He writes for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and Departures Europe among other publications.