History is about to made. The Cleveland Indians have not won the World Series in nearly seven decades. The Chicago Cubs haven't been World Series champs in more than a century.
Starting on Tuesday, both of these teams meet in the World Series, and one will figure out a way to win four more games and at long last seize the Major League Baseball title for their long-suffering fans. Here's a special Money look at how the team's match up—not just on the field, but how they (and their fans) spend their money.
Regular Season Attendance & Ticket Prices
The beloved Cubbies had a huge edge over the Indians in terms of drawing fans this past season, averaging just under 40,000 tickets sold per home game at Wrigley Field, compared to 19,650 at Cleveland's Progressive Field. Tickets were much more expensive for Cubs' home games too, averaging $51 a seat in the regular season, compared to $25 for the Indians.
World Series Ticket Prices
Ticket resellers are making a fortune in this year's World Series, thanks to fans who are desperate to see their perennially championship-deprived teams finally have a chance to win it all. Unsurprisingly, devoted Cubs fans are pushing up ticket prices to insane levels, with listings for World Series games in Chicago averaging over $6,000, compared to roughly $3,300 for games in Cleveland.
World Series Droughts
For a sense of how long it's been since the Cubs played for the league title, it's been pointed out that the team's leadoff man, Dexter Fowler, will be the first African-American Cubs' player ever to bat in the World Series. (He's pulling in $8 million in pay this year.) After all, the last time the Cubs were in the World Series (1945) was two years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The Cubs famously have not won the World Series since 1908.
By contrast, the suffering of Cleveland Indians' fans may seem meager. The Indians last won the World Series in 1948, and most fans today can at least remember the last times the team played in the World Series, with losses in 1995 and 1997.
Beer & Hot Dog Prices
It's much cheaper for fans at Cleveland's Progressive Field to eat and drink while catching a game. A beer costs as little as $4 at the Cleveland ballpark, and hot dogs are $3 apiece. On both accounts, that's roughly half the price at Chicago's Wrigley Field, where beers go for $7.75 and up and a hot dog costs $5.75.
The Cubs have largely been the favorite to win it all since before the season even began. Back in March, four of out of seven of the baseball experts at Sports Illustrated predicted the Cubs as 2016 World Series champions, and one more picked Chicago to at least make it to the series. Only one person in the group forecast the Indians to be in the World Series, though he also predicted an Indians to win it all.
Latest Betting Odds
Unsurprisingly, bookmakers say the Cubs are the favorite to win the World Series. A gambler picking the Cubs would have to bet $190 in order to win $100, while someone betting on the underdog Indians could win $170 on a $100 wager.
Highest Paid Players
Chicago Cubs' pitcher Jon Lester, scheduled to pitch in Game 1 on Tuesday, is the team's highest paid player, with a salary of $25 million this year. Cleveland's biggest salary is Carlos Santana's relatively small $8.45 million in 2016. The Cubs have six players that are each earning more than Santana this year.
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According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cubs bumped up its overall payroll by 42.6% in 2016, the largest increase of any team in the league. The total player payout this year is about $172 million, or just over $5 million per player. The Cleveland Indians, by contrast, got much more bang for the buck while making it to the World Series, with a payroll of $96 million, averaging $3.2 million per player.
Money Spent Per Win
The Cubs finished the regular season with a league-wide best record of 103-58. The teams with the next best records (Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals) won "only" 95 games, and the Indians wound up winning 94 games this past season. But given how much lower the payroll was for the Indians, Cleveland seems to have spent its money more efficiently. By dividing the number of wins into the payroll, it looks like the Indians spent just over $1 million per regular season victory, compared to the Cubs' outlay of $1.7 million per win.