It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not quite Christmas, yet, but the World Series is like Christmas come early for baseball fans. In the first World Series to feature two 100-win teams since 1970, the Dodgers and Astros will be chasing after the Commissioner’s Trophy. Fans are anticipating tonight’s electric Game 2 matchup. Before the first pitch is thrown, let’s take a look back at the five greatest World Series of all time.
5.) 2016 World Series (Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians)
Surely this game needs no introduction. Last year’s Fall Classic was one for the ages. The Cleveland Indians dominated the first four games, taking a commanding 3-1 lead while outscoring Chicago 14 runs to 2 in those three wins. It seemed as if Cleveland was going to clinch the series win in just five games. At least, it seemed that way. Chicago quickly retaliated, winning Games 5 and 6 to force a Game 7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. What transpired would be one of the greatest Game 7’s in World Series history. Chicago held a 6-3 lead heading into the eighth inning. Brandon Guyer would hit an RBI-double off of Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the inning, making the score 6-4 Chicago. Following Guyer’s double, Indians center fielder Rajai Davis hit a dramatic two-run homerun that would tie the game 6-6. The game would head into extra innings, but a 17-minute rain delay brought the game to a halt. The Cubs made the most of the break, encouraging each other to go and win the game. What followed was an inning in which the Cubs were able to manufacture two runs, retaking the lead, 8-6. The Indians would cut the lead to 8-7 in the bottom of the tenth, but there would be no more scoring after that. The Cubs won their first title in 108 years.
4.) 2004 World Series (St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox)
This entry makes the list mostly due to its historical significance. Much like the 2016 World Series, the 2004 World Series involved the end of a long title drought. Going into the 2004 season, the Boston Red Sox had not won a World Series in 86 years. It seemed like some form of divine Providence was on the side of the Red Sox, as they overcame a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. With all of the momentum Boston had from the ALCS, there was no way that St. Louis was going to be able to stop them in the World Series. The Red Sox won the World Series in four games, outscoring the Cardinals 24-12. The “Curse of the Bambino” was finally broken. The Red Sox would then go on to win World Series titles in 2007 and 2013.
3.) 2001 World Series (Arizona Diamondbacks vs. New York Yankees)
In this series, the D-backs stormed to a two games to none lead. Then, as the series went to Yankee Stadium, New York would end up winning all of the next three contests. In game 4, Derek Jeter hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the tenth to earn the nickname “Mr. November.” Alfonso Soriano would hit a walk-off single for New York in Game 5 in the bottom of the twelfth. Game 6 went back to Arizona, and the Diamondbacks would tie the series at 3-3 with a 15-2 thrashing of the Yankees. Then came another one of the greatest Game 7’s in World Series history. The game was scoreless until Arizona plated a run in the bottom of the sixth. New York retaliated by scoring a run in both the seventh and eighth innings, taking the lead 2-1. The great Mariano Rivera was brought into the game in the 8th to pitch a two-inning save. While he easily dispatched the D-backs in the eighth, that would not be the case in the ninth. The greatest closer of all time could not close out the game as Arizona miraculously plated two runs (thanks in part to a few fielding errors by New York) to ruin the Yankees’ bid for a fourth-straight World Series title.
2.) 1986 World Series (New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox)
This is the second appearance of the Boston Red Sox on this list, but Sox fans probably would rather not see this entry at all. Apologies to the Boston faithful, but this series was certainly a memorable one. Boston managed to take a 3-2 game series lead. The Red Sox got two dominant outings from Bruce Hurst in Game 1 and Game 4. Then Game 6 happened. The Red Sox led going into the 8th inning, but a Gary Carter sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame tied the game at 3-3. The game would go into extra innings, and the Red Sox would score two runs in the top of the tenth. Calvin Shiraldi retired the first two batters and it appeared that the Red Sox were one out away from their first World Championship since 1918. Three singles, a pitching change, and a wild pitch later, the game was tied at 5-5. With the winning runner in scoring position, Mookie Wilson worked the count full and dribbled a ground ball up the first base line. What should have been a routine out to end the game ended up being the infamous ground ball that went right between Bill Buckner’s legs. The winning run came around to score, forcing Game 7. By then, the Mets had regained all momentum and went on to win the World Series. The “Curse of the Bambino” continued.
1.) 1991 World Series (Atlanta Braves vs. Minnesota Twins)
This is truly the greatest World Series of all time. In the 1991 World Series: five of the seven games were decided by a single run, four games were decided in the final at-bat, and three of the games went into extra innings. With 69 total innings played, the ’91 World Series holds the record for the longest World Series ever. Going into Game 6, the Braves held a 3-2 lead in the series, with the home team having won every game. Kirby Puckett displayed two major acts of heroism in Game 6: his leaping catch in left-center field to rob Ron Gant of an extra-base hit (keeping the Braves off of the board, to that point), and his iconic walk-off homerun in the bottom of the eleventh to force Game 7. This Game 7 is, arguably, the greatest in World Series history. The game remained scoreless for nine-and-a-half innings. Twins pitcher Jack Morris pitched all ten innings for the Twins in an effort that earned him World Series MVP. Dan Gladden singled and made it to second on a fielding miscue, and Chuck Knoblauch bunted him over to third. Puckett and Hrbek were subsequently intentionally walked. Tom Kelly put Gene Larkin in as a pinch hitter. On the first pitch he saw, Larkin drove a single into deep left-center over the drawn-in outfield, scoring Gladden with the series-winning run. With a final score of 1-0 in ten innings, the Twins secured their second World Series title in four years, having also won in 1987.