The Fall Classic is the most memorable time of the year during the baseball season. Postseason baseball takes place in October, and the World Series occurs towards the end of the month. So what is the World Series in baseball, why is it called that, who plays in it, and more? Find out these answers and more in this post.
What is the World Series in Major League Baseball?
The World Series is the name of the championship series in Major League Baseball. Each season, the champion of the American League plays the National League champion to establish the best team in baseball that season. It’s one of the longest championship series in history.
Why is it called the World Series?
The championship series for Major League Baseball gets its name from the first World Series in 1903, which was between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans (who become the Boston Red Sox.) Ahead of the game, the Pirate’s owner wrote to the owner of the Americans, saying that the series would be a “World’s Championship Series.” That name stuck, even after over 100 years of history.
Since the World Series occurs in October, it’s often called the Fall Classic.
How Does a Team Get to The World Series?
The MLB postseason has three rounds before the World Series, starting with a one-game contest between two wildcard teams. Wildcard teams qualify for the playoffs, despite not winning their division. The winner of the wildcard matchup moves on to satisfy the fourth seed in each league’s playoff bracket.
After the wildcard game, there are two more playoff rounds. The first round, which is the division series, which is a best-of-five series. Next is the League Championship Series (or LCS), which is a best-of-seven-round tournament. The winner of the LCS becomes a pennant winner and plays in the World Series.
Home field advantage in each round is dependent on which team had the best regular-season record. In the best-of-five seasons, games follow in a 2-2-1 format, with the better team playing at home during the beginning and end of the series. Seven-game series follow a 2-3-2 configuration, with the better team playing at home during the first two and last two games.
How Does the World Series Work?
Like the LCS, the World Series is a best-of-seven series. Historically, the league that won the All-Star game also received a home-field advantage for the World Series. Since the All-Star match occurs between the American League and National League all-stars, the game’s result dictated whether the American League or National League team had a home-field advantage.
In 2017, the MLB changed this rule and awarded home-field advantage to the team with the better regular-season record (like the previous rounds.) If each team has the same regular-season record, the tie-breaker decision goes to the team that had a better record against the other.
The first team to win four games wins the World Series Champions and receives the Commissioner’s Trophy. This trophy is the only championship trophy in the US major sports not named after a person.
During the last game of the series, MLB reporters will also select an MVP for the tournament. The MVP player is usually from the winning team. However, in 1960, the reporters chose New York Yankees’ Bobby Richardson for his impressive performance as a hitter in the playoffs.
World Series History
Since it’s one of the oldest championships in US major sports, there’s plenty of history behind the World Series. The first modern World Series took place in 1903 between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans. After an eight-game series, the Americans bested the Pirates to become the first World Series Champions.
Despite early success, the Boston Red Sox didn’t become prolific World Series winners. The New York Yankees have the most World Series wins with 27. The St. Louis Cardinals are a distant second, with less than half as many titles, having only 11.
What Teams Have Never Won World Series / Only Won One?
Several teams have never won a championship in the game today. These teams include the San Diego Padres, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Colorado Rockies, and the Seattle Mariners. It’s important to know that the Seattle Mariners are the only team on that list that has never had a World Series appearance.
A few teams have only been to the World Series once and have capitalized on the opportunity. The Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Angels (formerly the Anaheim Angels,) and the Washington Nationals are the only teams to win their one chance at the World Series. The Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins have a similar record, with the most World Series appearances without losing a series (two each.)
Is Home Field Advantage Important?
Home-field advantage usually is significant to most teams in the MLB postseason. However, in 2019, the Washington Nationals made history for winning every game on the road. The team beat the Houston Astros in seven games, despite never winning a contest at home. Similarly, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays had to forgo home-field advantage during the 2020 World Series, as they played all games at a neutral site ballpark due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Exciting World Series Walk-Off Moments to Win the Championship
A baseball walk-off is one of the most exciting aspects of the game. There have been plenty of exciting walk-off hits and home runs to win the entire World Series, which is pretty spectacular. Below are a few of the most memorable finishes of a World Series. If you want the complete list of great walk-off clinches in World Series history, be sure to visit that link.
- 1960: Bill Mazeroski (Pittsburgh Pirates) hits a walk-off home run against Ralph Terry (New York Yankees) to win
- 1993: Joe Carter (Toronto Blue Jays) hits a walk-off home run against Mitch Williams (Philadelphia Phillies) to win
- 1997: Edgar Renteria (Florida Marlins) hits a walk-off single against Charles Nagy (Cleveland Indians) to win
- 2001: Luis Gonzalez (Arizona Diamondbacks) hits a walk-off single vs. Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees) to win
When Does the World Series Conclude?
The World Series typically finishes by the end of October. However, the series ran late in the 2001 season because of a week-long break after the September 11th attacks. Game 4 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees started on October 31st but went into extra innings, which caused it to end on November 1st.
Playing the first World Series game in November was significant for the history of the game. Game 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees ended with a walk-off home-run by Derek Jeter after midnight, which earned him the nickname “Mr. November” by baseball reporters the following day. The Arizona Diamondbacks would later win the World Series in Game 7 with a walk-off single, making it one of the best Championships ever.
Do Teams Win the World Series Often?
With so many teams vying for a championship, it’s not unusual for some clubs to go long stretches without a crown. Before their 2004 World Series title, the Boston Red Sox boasted an 86-year championship drought called the “Curse of the Bambino.” The Chicago Cubs had an even longer wait between titles and bested their 108-year dry spell in 2016.
The Cleveland Indians have the longest championship drought, with their last World Series win coming against the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series. The Cleveland Indians (Now the Cleveland Guardians) played against the Cubs in the 2016 World Series. It was a battle between the two most prolonged World Series droughts, making it one of the most-watched World Series ever.
Conclusion About the World Series in Baseball
The MLB World Series has everything a fan could want when it comes to the historic championship series. This unique series features a variety of playing styles, from one-game playoffs to best-of-seven series. In the end, one team becomes the World Series Champion and the best team in baseball. With all the suspense and the drama, it’s a sporting spectacle you don’t want to miss.