Posts Tagged ‘World Series’

The First Postseason Series’

March 16, 2010

Between 1882 and 1891 Major League Baseball comprised two leagues (actually in 1884 and 1890 there were three), the National League and the American Association. For seven of those years the leagues existed in an uneasy and unequal truce, the National League being the dominant partner. They did agree that their pennant winners probably ought to meet up at the end of the season to determine who was the true champion of the big leagues. They were the first version of the modern World Series, although sometimes it’s tough to tell.

These series of games were in many ways more akin to exhibitions. The two teams would meet for a specified number of games, the number varied from 3 to 15, and the team winning the most was declared the winner. One of the problems was that the teams were supposed to play all the games (although that didn’t always happen) even after it became clear which was going to win the most games. The big 15 game series ended 10-5, although eight wins was enough to determine a winner. The three games series went three, although the same team won all three. That made the latter games frequently unimportant, and this effected both the quality of play and attendance greatly. The quality of play was universally panned. It was alleged that players weren’t playing to the best of their ability since the games were postseason and the money they were getting was nothing special.  Some teams had players skip the series altogether. Finally, many of the games were road games for both teams. This was supposed to allow for more fans to see the postseason games, but tended to depress the gate when the local fans had no rooting interest in either team. So it certainly didn’t make for the spectacle and excitement we know today. Having said that, some of them could be interesting, some exciting, some almost silly. Here’s a short recap of each with the National League team listed first.

1884–Providence vs. New York (3 games). Charles Radbourne, winner of 59 games (or 60 depending on your definition of “win”) shut down New York by pitching three complete games in two days and giving up no earned runs. Although Providence took the first two games to clinch the series, game three was played anyway on the afternoon of game two. It was Providence’s only series appearance. All three games were played in New York.

1885–Chicago vs.St. Louis (7 games). One of the most controversial series. Game one was a tie, then game two was declared a forfeit with Chicago (now the Cubs, but then the White Stockings) winning 5-4. The next four games were split and the two teams agreed to count the seventh game as the decisive game (ignoring the first two games). St. Louis won 13-4. Games were played in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to go along with St. Louis and Chicago.

1886–Chicago vs. St. Louis (7 games). This series is the one that most closely resembles a modern World Series. Among other things they played three games in each city.  Chicago and St. Louis split the first four games, then St. Louis won the next two, making the seventh game unnecessary. For a change, they didn’t play it.

1887–Detroit vs. St. Louis (15 games). Having seen sense prevail in 1886, the leages returned to silliness in 1887.  The series saw games played in not just St. Louis and Detroit, but also in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Chicago, and Baltimore.  Detroit won it’s eighth game, and the series, in game 11, but the final four games were played anyway. For what it’s worth, the teams split them.

1888–New York vs. St. Louis (10 games). With games in Brooklyn and Philadelphia to go along with home games in each city, the series was scheduled for an even number of games. That was the idea of the St. Louis owner (he ran a brewery and I’m not going to speculate on how sober he was when he proposed an even number of games). New York won five of the first six, then took game eight to wrap up the series. Giants pitcher Tim Keefe won four of the games to tie the record for a single postseason series (Three pitchers in the 15 game series each won four). 

1889–New York vs. Brooklyn (11 games). Another series that stopped when one team got to six wins. New York repeated as champions six games to three.  This time Cannonball Crane won four games for New York.

1890–Brooklyn vs. Louisville (7 games). The last 19th Century World Series between the National League and the American Association. Brooklyn (the team that is now the Los Angeles Dodgers) jumped to the National League and won a watered down championship. The Player’s League joined to create a third league, but was frozen out of the postseason.  Brooklyn became the first team to participate in consecutive postseasons for different leagues. All games were played in Brooklyn and Louisville.  Game three was a tie and the teams split the other six. Because of the late date (October 28 for game seven) and the weather, the teams agreed to play a game at the beginning of the next season to determine the season champion. Things changed during the offseason when the Player’s League collapsed. The NL and the AA split and the series was never completed. 

Following the 1890 season the two leagues went their separate ways, as mentoned above. The American Association collapsed after the 1891 race concluded (it got a lot of help from the NL, but that’s also a story for another time). There were other attempts to create a postseason after 1890. None were successful until 1903 ushered in the first modern World Series.

Best Possible World Series: Conclusions

December 17, 2009

Now that I’ve posted my take on the best ever World Series games by game 1, game 2, etc, it’s a good idea to look at them as a group and draw some inferences.

1. The Dodgers win 2 of them (games 1 and 4), the Twins also win 2 of them (games 6 and 7), the Cardinals (game 2), the A’s (game 4), the Yankees (game 5), and the Giants (game 8 ) all win one. So there is no team that has a monopoly on good games.

2. Most of the games are very low scoring. That means I like tight games that are well pitched, not slugfests that tend to be very sloppy. Also a lot of them go into extra innings.

3. The games go across eras. There’s one in the 1910’s (3), 1 in the 1920s (8), 2 in the 1940s (2 and 4), 1 in the 1950s (5), one in the 1980s (1), and 2 in the 1990s (6 and 7). So no era can claim a distinction as the best era for World Series play.

4. Only one World Series, 1991, is represented twice. I guess that means I think it’s the best World Series I ever saw.

Hope you enjoyed the set of posts.

The Best Possible World Series

December 8, 2009

How do you find the best possible World Series? I asked myself that a day of so ago (obvious evidence of too much idle time on my part). I came up with an answer.

I decided I’d like to see the very best of each game that was ever played. I’d like to see the best game 1, the best game 2, the best game 3, etc, without worrying about which World Series they were in. So I set out to research the various World Series gams and find out which is the best game 1, the best game 2, etc. I have a preliminary list and will spend the next 8 posts (yes there have been game 8’s) commenting on the best, in my humble opinion, of each game. Interestingly enough, my initial run through shows 2 games from one Series and only one from any other Series.

If you have a nomination, don’t hesitate to comment. I’ll certainly take it under consideration.