ABOUT THOSE ‘W’ FLAGS

One of the biggest sellers at sporting goods stores in the Chicago area are those blue on white “W” flags being waved by frantically happy Cubs fans. Though the phenomenom is new, the banners have been around for almost 80 years, hoisted on the staff above the Wrigley Field scoreboard after each Cubs win. When the Cubs lose, “L” goes up instead. Replicas of those are also being sold — though not so many — that appeal mostly to Cub-bashers loyal to Chicago’s Southside team.

MERRITT REGISTERS WITH TRIBE FANS

Good things happen when you’re young and in love and pitch the game of a lifetime. Not long after Ryan Merritt worked 4 1⁄3 scoreless innings to help send the Indians to the World Series, Cleveland fans began sending wedding gifts to him and his fiancee, Sarah, using the couple’s wedding registry online.

Now Merritt is up to his neck in blenders, wine glasses, oven mitts and muffin tins.

“At first I thought it was all a joke,” the 24-year-old lefty said Friday. “It’s the last thing I thought was going to come out of all of this. It’s pretty emotional. Awesome.”

Merritt was a late addition to the ALCS roster following a series of setbacks to Cleveland’s starting rotation. But handed the ball to start Game 5, Merritt, who pitched just 11 innings for the Indians during the regular season, shook off stomach butterflies and shut down the Blue Jays on two hits before manager Terry Francona turned things over to Andrew Miller and the rest of his devastating bullpen.

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Merritt gave all he had, and Indians fans repaid him with dozens of gifts. He’s been humbled by their expression of thanks.

“Sarah checked our registry this morning and I think we only have three gifts left to go,” he said shyly with a smile. “I hope there’s some things left for my friends to buy. I might have to register for some other stuff for them to buy something. It’s great. You just get the support that I’m getting from the Cleveland fans, and that they not only care about my career but they care about my personal life, too.” — With AP

WILD THING

Though there was no 1994 World Series due to the MLB lockout, the Indians made it to the Fall Classic in the “Major League II” flick as Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn — played by Charlie Sheen — came out of the bullpen to fan Chicago’s dastardly Jack Parkman in Game 7 of the ALCS. Now that the Indians are in the real World Series, Sheen offered to throw out the first pitch in one of the games but MLB declined, saying “former franchise greats” would be getting the honor instead.

FLASHBACK

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Jackie Robinson signs with Dodgers organization

Today marks the 71st anniversary of a day that changed the course of baseball history. On Oct. 23, 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. Although history has shown that Rickey was a big supporter of Robinson, his comment to The Associated Press that day was: “I’ve never seen the boy play but the reports from my scouts indicate he should be able to play for Brooklyn after the proper schooling. He isn’t ready right now and I don’t think there is a Negro player anywhere who is ready.”

LAKE ERIE HEROES

Rather than talk about the Cleveland Curse, we present

of list of Cleveland’s world hampionship teams:

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1920 MLB Indians d.

Brooklyn Robins

1946 AAFC Browns d.

NY Yankees

1947 AAFC Browns d.

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NY Yankees

1948 MLB Indians d. Bost. Braves

1948 AAFC Browns d. Buff. Bills

1949 AAFC Browns d. SF 49ers

1950 NFL Browns d. LA Rams

1954 NFL Browns d. Det. Lions

1955 NFL Browns d. LA Rams

1964 NFL Browns d. Balt. Colts

2016 NBA Cavs d. GS Warriors

Note: AAFC was a rival league

absorbed by the NFL in 1950

RECOGNIZE THIS GUY?

Rich Hill was toiling for the Long Island Ducks just 14 months ago, and on Tuesday night, he started Game 3 of the NLCS for the Dodgers, pitching six scoreless innings with six strikeouts for the win in a 6-0 victory over the Cubs. Hill was also scheduled to start Game 7.