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Andy Furillo: Chicago and New York have spirited history

New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia reacts after walking in the winning run as the Chicago Cubs celebrate Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs and Mets played seven games this season, all won by Chicago. The two teams meet Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in New York for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia reacts after walking in the winning run as the Chicago Cubs celebrate Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs and Mets played seven games this season, all won by Chicago. The two teams meet Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in New York for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Associated Press

Not that Cubs fans should be looking backward or anything, but the last time their team won a World Series, they had to go through New York. …

They must remember the 1-1 tie during the stretch run of the Cubs’ red-hot 1908 pennant race with the New York Giants. Fred Merkle surely does, from the grave he has occupied since 1956. …

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Merkle was on first base for the Giants but forgot to touch second on a hit that scored a runner from third. …

The Polo Grounds mob made the bottle throwers a couple days ago in Toronto look comparatively civilized, so they couldn’t continue the game. When the season ended in a tie, the teams played it off for the National League title. The Cubs won – on the way to the last World Series they won. …

Chicago’s rivalry with New York, which resumes Saturday in the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Mets, was just getting started. …

Twice in the 1930s, the Yankees swept the Cubs in the World Series. In ’32, Babe Ruth purportedly called his shot before a home run he hit in Wrigley Field. …

Nobody liked it more than Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, who had been fired two years earlier by the Cubs. …

On the bus ride out of Wrigley, the Yankees belted out chorus after chorus of “The Sidewalks of New York.” After each one, McCarthy bellowed, “One more time!” …

Five times, the Bears played the New York Giants for NFL titles. Second City went 3-2. …

NFL founding father and Bears owner-coach George Halas used to station future Pro Football Hall of Famers Doug Atkins and Bill George and other stars in the stands to retrieve footballs after extra-point kicks. …

“Those specialists kept us from blowing a lot of $17 footballs,” Bears defensive coordinator George Allen said a couple years later, after he became the coach of the Rams. …

Anybody who saw Paul Newman in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” knows about the sensational Tony Zale-Rocky Graziano fights.

Zale represented Chicago against Graziano, the rehabilitated juvenile delinquent who reigned as king of Mulberry Street in New York City’s Little Italy. Zale won two of their three middleweight championship bouts in the 1940s, all decided by knockout. …

Newman played Graziano in the movie. Court Shepard handled the Zale role. Surely you remember Court from the 1958 thriller “Space Master X-7.” …

The Bulls and the Knicks played each other seven times in the NBA playoffs between 1981 and 1996. Chicago won six. New York won in 1994, when Michael Jordan played baseball instead of basketball. …

The Blackhawks and Rangers nearly met for the Stanley Cup last season. How great would that have been? A curse on Tampa Bay for ruining things by beating New York in the Eastern Conference finals. …

Oh, yes, the Mets and the Cubs. …

Leo Durocher, one of baseball’s greatest managers, couldn’t do anything about Chicago’s 1969 collapse when they blew a nine-game September lead. …

New York’s Miracle Mets passed and ran away from the Cubs. Then they upset the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, and we’ve never heard the end of it – always the case when something great happens in New York City. …

The Mets’ pitching makes them the slight favorite in 2015. …

Chicago has the best arm in Jake Arrieta. New York just has more of them in Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard, plus reliever Jeurys Familia.…

The kiddie Cubs have five position starters 25 or younger, sometimes six. …

Local connections? Look right here. …

Cubs outfielder Chris Denorfia played for the River Cats in 2008 when they won the Triple-A title. …

First baseman Anthony Rizzo went 8 for 12 with a home run, a triple and two doubles when the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in Iowa rolled through town in a May 2012 series with the Cats. …

You probably remember how Jon Lester and Jason Hammel did for the A’s last year in the wild-card game against Kansas City. Lester blew a lead in the seventh and Hammel gave up the game-winning hit to Salvador Perez in the bottom of the 12th. …

On the Mets’ side, Yoenis Cespedes starred for the A’s until Billy Beane traded him last year for Lester. Oakland hasn’t stopped sinking. Cespy should win an ESPY this year. He hit .291 with 35 homers and 105 RBIs, to go along with nine outfield assists. …

The Mets’ Steven Matz gave up three runs and five hits and walked five for Las Vegas in an April 14 loss to the River Cats at Raley Field. …

And the pick here is a toss-up, just like the pizza spun skyward in the two towns that favor different styles. Everybody likes the thin crust of New York, but you can’t go wrong with Chicago’s deep dish. The outcome depends on the ingredients and what happens when you put them in the oven.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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