Looking Back on World Series Past:

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Bill Shoup:

Even though the final matchup isn’t set yet for the World Series, (although I think the Angels just delayed the inevitable with that dramatic win last night) and since we have to wait 5 more days for this Series to begin, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the World Series histories of the three franchises.  Why?  Well, because I like living in the past.  Speaking of which, being an old-school guy, it bothers me that the World Series isn’t set to begin until October 28th and if it goes 7 games, will finish up on November 5th – or possibly even later if foul weather intervenes. Given the location of the two most likely cities to be participating, one or two rainouts (or even snow outs) are entirely possible.  There’s just something not right about baseball in November.  But anyway, I digress.  Back to the World Series histories of the Yankees, Phillies and Angels.

 The Yankees of course have by far the most impressive history of any major league franchise.  They have won 39 pennants and an astounding 26 World Championships.  Only one other franchise, the St. Louis Cardinals with 10, has double digit World Series wins!  It’s true that the vast majority of those Yankees championships were won before many of you were born (some even pre-date me!).  Nonetheless, you have to wonder how they did what they did.  During a 29 year stretch from 1936 through 1964, there were only 7 years that the Yankees did not appear in the Fall Classic.  They won 16 of their World Championships during that time frame, winning 4 in-a-row at the beginning of that stretch and later running off with 5 in-a-row.  Many people, when they think of the Yankees dominance, assume that Babe Ruth had something to do with many of their World Championships.  But the truth is he wasn’t even a Yankee during that 29 year stretch when the bulk of the championships were won.  There is no question though that the Yankees “mystique” began with the arrival of Ruth in 1920.  In 1921 they made their first of 7 World Series appearances during the Ruth era, winning 4 of those championships.  After the 1964 season, the Yankees had a rough stretch until 1976 when they returned for 3 consecutive appearances, winning the last two of those.  Again, they experienced a long stretch of futility until Joe Torre led them back to the Series in 1996.  They won it that year and then again three years in-a-row starting in 1998.  While the Yankees last championship was in 2000, they did appear in the Series two more times under Torre and made the playoffs in every one of his 12 years with the team. 

 Clearly, the Phillies’ World Series history is not nearly as impressive as the Yankees.  They have only appeared in the Series a total of 6 times and have only won the Series 2 times.  In fact, their first World Championship didn’t come until 1980, led by Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Pete Rose.  The Phillies first appeared in the World Series in 1915 and their fans then had to wait 35 years before Robin Roberts and the 1950 Whiz Kids got them back into the Series.  Interestingly, they were swept in that Series by the Yankees.  It would be another 30 years before the Phils showed up in the World Series again.  At least that wait was rewarded with that first Championship ring.  In 1983 the Phillies again made it into the World Series, losing in 5 games to the Baltimore Orioles who were led by Eddie Murray and a young Cal Ripken.  The Phillies next appearance 10 years later also left their fans disappointed when they lost the Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in 6 games, highlighted of course by the dramatic walk-off homerun by Joe Carter in that 6th game.  The Phils next appeared in the Series last year, getting their second World Championship by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games.

 The Angels’ World Series “history” consists of one appearance, in 2002, coming 41 years after the franchise was established.  They won the Series that year, beating the San Francisco Giants in 7 games.  They have appeared in the playoffs 9 times over the years.  Of course the one that haunts Angels’ fans is the 1986 League Championship Series.  Up 3 games to 1 against the Boston Red Sox, the Angels were one pitch away from closing out that series and heading to the World Series.  Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson, batting in the top of the ninth inning with a 2-2 count on him, hit a two-run homer to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead.  The Angels tied it up in the bottom of the ninth but the Red Sox won it in the eleventh on a Henderson sacrifice fly.  The series then moved back to Boston where the Red Sox took the last two games to move on to the World Series against the Mets.

 So, what do these histories mean as far as this year’s World Series?  Probably nothing.  But for lots of fans, maybe a little something, depending on the matchups.  The Yankees, with their history of excellence and accomplishment, have a fan following that transcends generations and geography.  But that success and the organizational and fan arrogance that evolved from it, also has engendered a large anti-Yankee sentiment.  So there will be those who want the Yankees to lose, in-part because of their storied history.  The Phillies’ history of spotty success could work in their favor in a matchup with the Yankees.  They could be viewed as the underdog, even though they are the reigning World Champs and have what I believe to be the stronger team on paper.  So I could see fans rooting for the Phillies during the Series based on the perceived underdog role.  Of course the flip side of that could occur if, in the unlikely event, the Angels end up coming back to beat the Yankees in the ALCS.  The reigning Champs taking on the franchise that has won only one World Championship in their 48 years of existence.  What better scenario for those that love to root for the underdog?  That’s the matchup that would actually be of any interest to me.  I tend to pull for the underdog if my favorite teams aren’t involved.  Since I’ve never cared for the Yankees and pretty much despise any team from Philly, a Yankees-Phillies matchup would be boring to me since I know that BOTH teams can’t lose.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  Here’s hoping for an Orioles- Nationals World Series in 2010!!

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