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With the Cubs winning, will baseball enjoy a rise in popularity?

WBFO file photo

Baseball is known as the "national pastime," but it sometimes requires a special moment in the sport to get many Americans to fall back in love with the sport. The Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series title in more than a century is the latest feel-good story for the game. WBFO asked a local baseball promoter whether it will spark renewed interest in the sport.

Many fans renewed their love affair with baseball over the years during the game's historic moments. They include the chase for Roger Maris' single-season home run record by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (this was before it became clear both were using performance-enhancing substances), Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's record for most consecutive games played, and the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years when they took the championship in 2004.

The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, at long last? If ever there was a moment that could bring back fans and perhaps turn curious watchers into fans, Game Seven may have been a baseball promoter's dream come true.

"That was baseball at its absolute best," said Brad Bisbing, media relations director for the Buffalo Bisons. "You had key managerial decisions. You had great pitching at times and you had great offense at times, some great defensive plays and the emotion that came through from the two fan bases."

While local ball fans had to travel about three hours west on Route 90 to be among those enjoying a World Series, Bisbing says there is plenty to be excited about here in Western New York. He reminded WBFO that the Bisons' Major League Baseball affiliates, the Toronto Blue Jays, played in the American League Championship Series for the second consecutive season. And they did so with many players who first spent time developing in Buffalo, including pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez and center fielder Kevin Pillar.

"They have some key pieces. I think we're going to see the Blue Jays back in the mix next year," Bisbing said. "I definitely think it has had an impact for the sport's fans here in Western New York."

Opening Day 2017 for Major League Baseball is Sunday, April 2. The Bisons are scheduled to open their International League season on Thursday, April 6 at home.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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