November 4, 2021
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:
Congratulations and BRAVO to the Braves!
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|
|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|
At MLB.com, Will Leitch identified seven teams that "need a championship the most," so I put together the following table, which is more "diverse and inclusive." 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|
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?
|Fenway Park (owned by Red Sox)||(1912)||1914|
|Milwaukee County Stadium||1953||1957||1958|
|Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium||1966||1991||1992||1995||1996|