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Championship Fever Hits Cleveland As Indians Vie For World Series Title

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Most of us know by now that the Chicago Cubs' win over the weekend means the team will be going to their first World Series since 1945. But there is also a once-in-a-generation story on the other side. Cleveland Indians fans have waited 19 years to go to the World Series, too. They will play the Cubs tomorrow night. And that's exactly when across the street the Cleveland Cavaliers will be celebrating their first ever NBA championship at their first game of the season. David C. Barnett of WCPN ideastream reports.

(CHEERING)

DAVID C. BARNETT, BYLINE: The fans were all screams and high fives at Panini's Sports Bar Wednesday night after the Cleveland Indians won the American League Championship by shutting out the Toronto Blue Jays. Jeff King says fans here are barely catching their breath after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship last June.

JEFF KING: That's the first for my lifetime to actually get the ring. And it was nuts. We all keep saying it's like, oh, I got to pinch myself. I'm sleeping. I'm dreaming. And then you wake up, and you realize we got, like, a championship. It's crazy. Now we get a chance three months later to get another. It's insane.

BARNETT: The Cavaliers will be adding to the craziness tomorrow night as they host their championship banner at Quicken Loans Arena right next door to the Indians' ballpark. The city's Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that all downtown hotels are sold out, reminding some here of the GOP convention this past summer. Fan Diane Dozier likes the Indians' chances, especially considering how they overcame wave after wave of adversity.

DIANE DOZIER: They gutted and gritted it out, and it was just remarkable - can't say enough. That bullpen was depleted, but they came through. So we're hoping they're going to do the same with the Cubs.

BARNETT: Multiple injuries to starting players raised serious doubts for cleveland.com Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes. He stirred up a Twitter storm late in the regular season when he essentially wrote off the team's chances this year.

PAUL HOYNES: You know, I knew there would be, you know, some hard feelings, but I didn't expect it to linger this long. And maybe that was naive of me.

BARNETT: But the story changed dramatically, and the veteran sportswriter isn't eager to make any more prognostications.

HOYNES: I probably should stay out of the prediction business for a while (laughter).

BARNETT: This will be the Indians' first trip to the World Series since 1997. They last won the championship in 1948, but the Cubs have been waiting to get into the dance since 1945, and they haven't won since 1908. That's right - more than a century. And if this was any other year, fans in this underdog town that have long supported an underdog team would likely be rooting for the Cubs but not this time. For NPR News, I'm David C. Barnett in Believeland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.