HOT TAKE: Friendly wagers on pro sports championships between competing city agencies or representatives make for feel-good press releases and decent diplomacy, but are by and large very lame. No less so this year, as Cleveland and Chicago find themselves tied 1-1 on the precipice of Game three at Wrigley Field Friday night and publicists hustle to cash in on real or invented rivalries.
Below, we've ranked the available wagers from most lame to least lame. And we apologize to all the big-hearted folks just trying to have a bit of fun with this.
9) U.S. Senators wager beer. These lame-ass politicians were so skittish before the election that they wouldn't even cross party lines. The wager will require zero effort (or even thought) from the senators. Six-packs can be purchased and delivered by assistants (barring photo ops). Pure low-stakes press-release baloney. Transcendentally lame.
8) Governors wager pizza and beer. Same old boosterish hogwash highlighting the food and beverage offerings of the regions in question. Great Lakes! Deep dish! Snore. Governors John Kasich and Bruce Rauner are no doubt savoring the publicity, but this wager stinks.
7) Legal Aid Societies of Chicago and Cleveland wager lunch. More small potatoes here, once again genuflecting toward staples of the regional cuisine. (Chicago will provide the Cleveland legal aid crew deep dishpizza if they lose; Cleveland will provide Chicago pierogies). RAISE THE STAKES LEGAL AID!
6) City Clubs wager "presiding over a forum in the opponent's jersey." Credit to Dan Moulthrop, City Club of Cleveland boss, for not initiating this. And extra credit for trying to up the ante with beer and travel fees. Without the added stakes, it's just more weak sauce. Where are the fun, offbeat wagers? Block C screen savers for 90 days? "Cleveland Rocks" programmed at ungodly decibels on all Chicago City Club voicemails or doorbells? Temporary tattoos? STEP UP YOUR WAGER GAME MOULTHROP.
5) Rabbis wager a trip to opposing city to discuss the Jewish significance of baseball. I mean, props for specificity I guess. “We’re just looking for a way to have a little bit of fun with the World Series and to connect our congregations and engage our people in a little Jewish learning at the same time,” Rabbi Stephen Weiss, of Pepper Pike, told the Cleveland Jewish News. And you can't accuse them of seeking publicity or anything. (Folks interested in the above debate are also encouraged to take a pass through Jewish Jocks, a pretty good anthology about Jews in sports.)
4) LeBron James (Cavs) and Dwyane Wade (weirdly, Bulls) wager wearing jersey in opponent's arena. This would be your typical lame jersey-wearing wager but for the prominence of the athletes in question and the fact that LeBron has proven himself to be one of the biggest and most vocal Indians fans this postseason, a far cry indeed from the truculent Yankees-hat-wearing LeBron 1.o of yesteryear. LeBron wearing a Cubs uniform in Chicago or Wade wearing an Indians uniform in Cleveland actually would mean something, would represent a victory for the fan bases. And all of it would be meticulously documented for posterity on social media.
2) Catholic Dioceses wager feeding the homeless. Each diocese will provide food for 100 homeless people in the other city if their team loses. "If by some devilish mistake the Indians were to lose," Cleveland's Bishop Richard Lennon decreed, "we will hold up our end of the bargain and send some of Cleveland's finest dishes to a Catholic Charities ministry in Chicago so they can join in the celebration." Doesn't exactly rub the victory in anyone's face or anything, but at least it's for a good cause. Leave it to them Catholics to turn a good old-fashioned American slugfest into a service project.
1) Chicago's Lou Malnati's Pizza and Cleveland's Antonio's wager pizza sauce shower. Now we're talking! This guy Marc Malnati gets it. It's not some bullshit "I'll make a pizza for you," "you make a pizza for me" situation. This guy's using pizza as a theme. If the Cubs lose, he's going to dump an enormous quantity of pizza sauce ON HIS MOM. WHO IS VERY OLD! That's commitment. Unique, funny, not nauseatingly promotional. Least lame by a wide margin. (Lou Malnait's Pizza is amazing, by the way). And here's his vid: