April 3rd 2016.
There was 2 bigs days in the sports with bats world. They were on opposite sides of the world. MLB was returning for the opening day and across the world in India the final of the World T20 was taking place between The West Indies and England.
World T20 –
The biggest shock of the tournament (outside of Afghanistan beating The West Indies sans Chris Gayle) was the two finalists. England were affectively playing elimination cricket from their second game of the tournament after losing their opening game to the opponents they would meet in the final. England beat South Africa, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the then unbeaten New Zealand to get to the final. New Zealand were the favourites having come out of their group unbeaten and England beat them comfortably.
The West Indies in the last 10 years have had some big hitters, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuel topping their big hitting line up, Chris Gayle got them through their group and then Marlon Samuels took over in the Semis and Final. The West Indies beat England, Sri Lanka and South Africa before upsetting India in their own backyard.
The key to the game was the toss. Both teams were better at chasing totals with explosive and deep batting lineups. Both teams bowling left a lot to be desired for international cricket but the appeal of T20 is that you only need one big performance to win a game. When Windies won the toss they put England into bat. England did what they do best when batting first, start strongly then suddenly lose wickets quickly, and set a modest total of 155. The West Indies struggled at the start of their innings with good bowling from Joe Root and Adil Rashid. Then in came Marlon Samuels, He turned the game on his head by hitting the ball out of the ground with ease. The West Indies needed 38 from 3 overs, not an impossible target but meant England had to be favourites to win at that point. England bowled well in the first two overs but still couldn’t keep Samuels from hitting. The West Indies needed 19 from the final over, England had conceded 19 in the last two over, then some terrible death bowling from the Maverick Ben Stokes cost England the game. He bowled full tosses on the leg side, which at any level of the game are going a long way, and Braithwaite dispatched them. Four Sixes later and the West Indies are the first team to win the T20 World Cup for a second time.
MLB Opening Day –
The other bats were swinging all over America. The American Past-time of Baseball had returned. The Kansas City Royals hung their World Series Banner as they celebrated their previous seasons success. It was a repeat of the World Series to kick the MLB into gear. The Royals hosted The New York Mets and the result remained the same with The Royals winning their opening game, 4-3, to stop the Mets getting a little bit of revenge against the team that ended their World Series hopes.
The biggest stories of the MLB Offseason were mostly about retirements and a long streak being coming to an end soon. David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz is retiring at the end of this MLB season at the age of 40. He has been a big hitter for the Boston Red Sox and was a key part in their three World Series wins. He has been a big part of the MLB and was is one of the biggest stars in the league.
Let’s not forget about controversial star Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez announcing that he too would retire, but not at the end of the season, the end of his contract in 2017. He is one of the biggest hitters in the bigs but has had a career that has been surrounded by controversy. He has been alleged to have failed drugs test (For steroids and HGH) earning him the nickname ‘A-Roid’ but has managed to have a long and successful career that will always come down to him being a drugs cheat, even if nothing was ever proven.
The Final MLB story was the Chicago Cubs. A black sheep, though goat might be more appropriate, of the MLB. For the first part of the 20th Century they were one of the most feared teams in the league. They won World Series and were regulars in the series. Their last visit to the World Series was in 1945, their last victory was in 1908. 108 years without winning the MLB having been in the league for all 108 years. 1945 changed everything. In 1945 during the World Series a man by the name of Billy Sianis, owner of Billy Goat Tavern, was asked to leave Wrigley Field (Home of the Cubs) due to the smell of his goat disturbing other people in attendance. Billy was unhappy and he placed a curse on the Cubs and was rumoured to have said ‘Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more’. This was taken to mean that a World Series game would never be won at Wrigley Field. They have not been to a World Series since. However, in 2015, The Cubs made the play-offs. People were picking The Cubs to win the whole thing because of Back to the Future (The year the Cubs were predicted to win in the iconic film) but they bowed out and the hopes of breaking the curse were forgotten for another year. This year they opened the season as favourites to win the World Series. They have a young, talented team that grew from last year’s experience and an experienced manager that will get the best out of them. The talk of the curse has quietened down since they are not clear favourites, along with big-spending Toronto, The Even Year World Series winners San Francisco Giants and any surprise teams that come along it still could be anyone’s year.