Ranking the 9 Biggest World Series Choke Jobs of All Time
The San Francisco Giants took a two-game series lead over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night, but now the series shifts to Comerica Park and questions will arise as to whether the Giants can hang on.
Plenty of teams have gone up two games early in the series only to lose in the end. The World Series features the two best teams in baseball and no lead is ever safe, no matter who’s home and who’s away.
If the Tigers end up making a comeback in this series and the Giants go cold in Detroit and lose the World Series, where would it rank as one of the biggest choke jobs ever?
Let’s take a look at that list as it stands now, with the Giants possibly joining by the end of next week.
9. Atlanta Braves, 1996
Matchup: New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves
Situation: The road team had the advantage in this World Series matchup, as the away team won all but one of the six games played. The Braves took the first two in New York and then the Yankees would take the next three in Atlanta.
The series shifted back to New York where the Yankees would win Game 6 to become the 1996 World Champions. Despite a two-game series lead through the first two games, the Braves couldn't get anything going after that, as they choked in the next four games to be forever known as the National League Champions instead of the World Series Champions.
8. St. Louis Cardinals, 1968
Matchup: Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Situation: The St. Louis Cardinals held a 3-1 series lead over the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series, looking to repeat as champions. Detroit would win Game 5 at home before the series went back to Busch Stadium with the Cardinals still needing just one more win.
The Tigers clobbered St. Louis 13-1 in Game 6 to force a decisive Game 7, where they won 4-1 to complete the comeback. The difference between the teams were the runs scored in the third inning where Detroit had 13 and St. Louis had just two. Mickey Lolich was named the World Series MVP for tossing three complete games over the seven-game series.
7. St. Louis Cardinals, 1985
Matchup: Kansas City Royals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Situation: The second Missouri-only World Series turned out to be quite exciting, despite fans not knowing who to root for, the Royals or Cardinals. The Cardinals won the opening two games on the road and then the Royals would take Game 3 in St. Louis. A 3-0 Game 4 victory by the Cardinals put them in perfect position to win the World Series.
Kansas City, however, won the next three games to shock the world as they were crowned World Series Champions instead of the Cardinals. Game 7 featured a brilliant performance from World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen, who tossed a five-hitter to help propel the Royals over the Cardinals.
6. Texas Rangers, 2011
Matchup: Texas Rangers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Situation: The Texas Rangers held a one-game lead after Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, with the next two games to be played in St. Louis. They were in perfect position to take one of those games and bring a World Series title back to Texas.
Only that didn't happen.
The Cardinals were down to their last out in Game 6 when they sparked a two-out rally, tied the game in the ninth and eventually won in extra innings, forcing a Game 7. The next night, Texas would score first, but the Cardinals would go on to score six times in the game, winning 6-2 and leaving Rangers fans all over the world shocked.
5. New York Yankees, 2001
Matchup: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. New York Yankees
Situation: Home-field advantage proved to be true during the 2001 World Series as both the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks won each of their home games. The Diamondbacks took the first two games in Arizona before the Yankees won the next three in New York.
Needing just one win to clinch the World Series, the Yankees had to get it done in Arizona. The Diamonbacks would demolish the Bronx Bombers in Game 6, 15-2, to force a decisive Game 7. The Yankees held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound. Unfortunately, Rivera coughed up the lead and then Luis Gonzalez came up with the bases loaded and blooped a single into short center field to send in the series-clinching run.
4. Boston Red Sox, 1986
Matchup: New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox
Situation: The Boston Red Sox had everything going their way, looking to erase a World Series drought that dated back to 1918. One play, however, would change everything and the Red Sox couldn't come up with one more win despite a 3-2 series lead heading back to New York.
That play, forever known as the "Buckner play" is one of the biggest blunders in the history of the game. Game 6 entered extra innings with game tied 3-3 and then the show really started. Boston would score twice in the tenth and looked to have the game and series in hand, but then the Mets rallied. New York would come all the way back to win the game after a routine ball got by Buckner and then took Game 7 the next day.
3. Baltimore Orioles, 1979
Matchup: Baltimore Orioles vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Situation: The 1979 World Series would feature several of future Hall of Famers including Willie Stargell, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver. Baltimore and Pittsburgh split the opening games of the series at Memorial Stadium. Baltimore would win Game 3 and Game 4, putting the Pirates into a huge hole.
The Pirates didn't fold though. Pittsburgh battled back to take Game 5 7-1 and then had to win the next games on the road, but that didn't turn out to be a problem either. The Pirates won Game 6 4-0 and then Game 7 4-1 to win the 1979 World Series on Baltimore's turf. Stargell was named the series MVP for hitting .400 in the seven games while slugging four home runs.
2. Milwaukee Braves, 1958
Matchup: New York Yankees vs. Milwaukee Braves
Situation: The Milwaukee Braves took full advantage of their home field advantage in the opening two games, taking Game 1 in extra innings and then winning by eight runs in Game 2. The Yankees avoided a 3-0 hole by winning Game 3 at home, but a Game 4 win by the Braves made things difficult for Casey Stengel's Yankees.
A 7-0 New York victory forced the series back to Milwaukee where the Yankees had their work cut out for them. They nearly lost an extra-inning Game 6, but pulled out a 4-3 10-inning win to play another day. On that other day, they defeated the Braves 6-2 to complete just the second 3-1 series comeback of all time. Bob Turley was named the MVP for winning two very important games despite losing Game 2.
1. Washington Senators, 1925
Matchup: Washington Senators vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Situation: No team had ever come back from being down three games to one in a series coming into the 1925 World Series between the Washington Senators and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Senators would win Game 1, but Pittsburgh would take Game 2 to split the series at Forbes Field. Washington took the next two games at Griffith Stadium, putting the Pirates in a position to make history or be history.
The Pirates decided to make history. They won the next three games in a row to avoid elimination and complete the greatest World Series comeback in the history of the game. By winning the World Series, the Pirates were awarded just over $5,000, and it should be noted that the average game time was around two hours. Pittsburgh never gave up and turned their early misfortune into an opportunity to succeed, and that will never be forgotten.