November 4, 2021 [LINK / comment]

World Series 2021: Braves are the champions!

To the surprise and amazement of almost everyone, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series in Houston two nights ago. Game 6 itself was rather uneventful and anti-climactic for the most part. The Braves' starting pitcher, Max Fried, who had given up six runs and was tagged with the loss in Game 2, got off to a rocky start, giving up a leadoff single to Jose Altuve and then missing a catch at first base, but he managed to get out of the inning unscathed. For the next five innings he was nearly flawless, allowing just three more hits (singles) and no runs. Atlanta jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning as Jorge Soler crushed a monster home run that sailed over the railroad tracks above left field and out of the park. (The roof at Minute Maid Park was open.) After that there was no looking back. Dansby Swanson homered and Freddie Freeman hit an RBI double in the fifth inning, and Freeman hit a solo homer two innings later to pad the lead. Final score: Braves 7, Astros 0. Just like two years earlier, the fans in Houston exited glumly while the visiting team celebrated an improbable, historic triumph.

Back in Atlanta (or the northwestern suburbs, that is), fans of the Braves gathered at Truist Park, where I paid a brief visit last February:

Truist Park Battery Plaza

Battery Plaza, the south entrance to Truist Park, as seen on February 25, 2021. On Tuesday night it was jam-packed with several thousand euphoric Braves fans watching Game 6 on a big video screen. Prior to Opening Day 2022, it will be festooned with numerous signs and banners heralding Atlanta's World Series victory.

Congratulations and BRAVO to the Braves!

LONG wait for another WS title

The Braves had to wait 26 years since their last championship, in 1995, and 25 years since their last National League pennant, in 1996. Indeed, a striking characteristic of World Series champions over the past several years (see the Chronology annual page) is that almost all of the teams (or franchises) had not won such a title for decades.

Year World Series champion Previous league pennant Previous World Series title Number of years waiting
2015 Kansas City Royals 2014 1985 30
2016 Chicago Cubs 1945 1908 108
2017 Houston Astros (Colt .45s) 2005 NEVER 56
2018 Boston Red Sox 2013 2013 5
2019 Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos)* NEVER NEVER 15 (50)
2020 Los Angeles Dodgers 2018 1988 32
2021 Atlanta Braves 1996 1995 26

* The former Montreal Expos (founded in 1969) became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

At, Will Leitch identified seven teams that "need a championship the most," so I put together the following table, which is more "diverse and inclusive." smile The last team in his list (in bold face below) may surprise some people. As I pointed out on July 22, 2020, "even though the Yankees had the winningest regular season record and reached the postseason more often than any other team from 2010 to 2019, they failed to win the American League pennant even once. Quite bizarrely, this was the first decade in almost a century that the Yankees failed to reach the World Series at all!"

For some reason Leitch excludes a number of other teams, mentioning four that he implies just aren't likely to even make the postseason any time soon: Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers. So I added them to the table, along with five other teams that have been waiting a long time, ranked in order of how long they have waited: the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado Rockies. The seven remaining teams have all won the World Series during this century.

Team Previous league pennant Previous World Series title Number of years waiting
Milwaukee Brewers (Seattle Pilots) 1986 NEVER 51 (52) years
Cleveland Indians * 2016 1948 73 years
New York Mets 2015 1986 35 years
San Diego Padres 1998 NEVER 52 years
Tamps Bay Rays 2020 NEVER 24 years
Minnesota Twins 1991 1991 30 years
New York Yankees (!!!???) 2009 2009 12 years
Seattle Mariners NEVER NEVER 45 years
Pittsburgh Pirates 1979 1979 42 years
Baltimore Orioles 1983 1983 38 years
Detroit Tigers 2006 1984 37 years
Texas Rangers (Wash. Senators) 2011 NEVER 49 (60) years
Oakland Athletics 1990 1989 32 years
Cincinnati Reds 1990 1990 31 years
Toronto Blue Jays 1993 1993 28 years
Colorado Rockies 2007 NEVER 28 years

Previous franchise names are listed where appropriate.
* NOTE: the Cleveland Indians will be renamed the "Guardians" in 2022.

World Series in Braves' stadiums

The 25-year pennant-less interval (1997-2021) endured by fans in Atlanta coincides rather closely with the period (1997-2016) during which they made Turner Field their home -- almost as if Turner Field were jinxed! That got me to thinking, which is always dangerous... Looking at the history of the Braves' stadiums in the table below, one might conclude that Braves Field was likewise "jinxed." The only time the Braves themselves actually played a World Series game there (in 1948) they lost, and just five years later they abandoned that home -- and the city of Boston -- for greener pastures in Milwaukee. The Boston Braves' only World Series victory (1914) was when they were using Fenway Park, as a "tenant" of the Red Sox. This adds an interesting dimension to the "curse of the Bambino" suffered by Red Sox for 80+ years, as if such sorcery plagues the whole city of Boston. Might this be related to the Salem witchcraft trials? smile

Stadium Built 1st
World Series
World Series
World Series
World Series
Fenway Park (owned by Red Sox) (1912) 1914
Braves Field 1915 1915 1916 1948
Milwaukee County Stadium 1953 1957 1958
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium 1966 1991 1992 1995 1996
Turner Field 1997
Truist Park 2017 2021

Underlined years above indicate World Series victories (4 Braves, 2 Red Sox); the other 5 years were defeats for the Braves.
* The above table cells with a reddish background pertain to the Boston Red Sox, who were both the "landlords" (1914) and later the "tenants" (1915 and 1916) of the Boston Braves.