World Series Wish List
As the season winds down, and is reduced to 10 teams realistically vying for 8 playoff spots, I thought it would be interesting to discuss what I consider to be the five potential World Series matchups with the most compelling storylines.
- Chicago Cubs vs. Tampa Bay Rays
What could be more interesting than a matchup of the two teams that, for very different reasons, might be thought of as the least likely to reach, let alone win, the World Series? Obviously, the Cubs are far from a dark horse, but everyone knows their story. That is, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the last time they won it all, the longest streak of futility among major league franchises. The Rays, of course, are the only current team never to even make the playoffs. In fact, prior to this season, their best record was their 2004 mark of 70-91 (.435). This is only their 11th year of existence, but the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team that entered the league in the same year as Tampa Bay, have already won a World Series. Even worse, as far as the Rays are concerned, their counterparts in the sunshine state, the Florida Marlins, have been crowned champions of baseball twice in their brief 15 year existence.
- Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Boston Red Sox
This Series would feature Joe Torre in his first post-season matchup versus the Red Sox since 2004, getting the chance to enact a certain measure of revenge. Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra, the two malcontents run out of town, make their return to Fenway Park in games that couldn’t possibly be more meaningful. Derek Lowe gets a chance to prove Boston management wrong for not bringing him back after winning three series-clinching games in the 2004 post-season. A Dodgers victory could also warrant some colorful comments from Hank Steinbrenner, and who doesn’t love to hear from The Boss’ eldest son?
- Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox
What could be better than a Windy City World Series? The only time these two teams met in the Series, it was 1906, a season in which the Cubs posted a .763 winning percentage, at 116-36. The White Sox batted .230 as a team that year, and went into the Series as a huge underdog, but defeated the Cubs 4 games to 2. The Cubs went on to dominate the Detroit Tigers in the two Series that followed, but haven’t won it all since, losing 7 Fall Classics between 1910 and their last appearance in 1945. Could the 100th anniversary of the Cubs last World Series victory be the year that they finally get this monkey off their back, and could they do it against their crosstown rivals? Or, could the South Siders contribute to the misery of Cubs fans by winning their second Series in four years at the expense of their North Side brethren?
- New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox
Possibly the greatest postseason in my lifetime was 1986. The Astros-Mets NLCS matchup was riveting, with Mike Scott almost single-handedly pitching his team past the highly favored Mets. That year’s Mets tied the 1975 Reds for the most wins by any National League team since the 1906 Cubs. The ALCS was highlighted by Dave Henderson’s heroics and the Red Sox overcoming a 3-games-to-1 deficit to defeat the California Angels. Of course, everyone knows what happened in Game 6 of the World Series that year. That is, what Vin Scully so aptly referred to as “…a delirious 10th inning”. As a Yankees fan and typical New Yorker who loves one team and hates the other, I rooted for the Red Sox in that Series, but it was more because I was rooting against the Mets. Now, as a Yankees fan living in Boston, I’d be pulling for the Mets, which probably means that the Sox will win in some memorably dramatic fashion.
- Milwaukee Brewers vs. Minnesota Twins
What would we call this, the I-94 Series? I know what the networks would be calling it: a ratings disaster. Why would I prefer this over an all-Los Angeles matchup between the Dodgers and Angels? Well, first of all, I don’t need to tell you that the Angels don’t actually play in Los Angeles, but let me answer that question with a question. Do either of these teams even sell out their home ballparks? I suppose they do, and actually I know that the Twins don’t, but a Southern California Series couldn’t possibly compare to an all-New York or all-Chicago Series. So, it really doesn’t have all that much appeal. Twins-Brewers, though, would be a showdown for the ages. Also, on a personal note, it would be the third instance in my lifetime that the World Series takes place in two ballparks that I visited during that season.
Of course, I left out the obvious one. But, do I really need to explain why Cubs-Red Sox would be an exciting matchup? I’d also like to extend my apologies to the Angels and Phillies. It’s not that I don’t consider these teams interesting, it’s just that I don’t see any compelling drama in any Series involving either of them. That said, the Angels are still my pick to win it all.