The 2012 World Series and Its Place Among the Best World Series of All Time

Eric Brach@EBrachWritesCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2012

The 2012 World Series and Its Place Among the Best World Series of All Time

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    The 2012 World Series has come to a close, and it seems to have ended as soon as it began. Though some baseball fans may have felt the 4-0 Series flew by too quickly, there’s no doubt that the San Francisco Giants established their dominance this postseason, winning their last seven games in a row after back-to-back full-length series in their five-game NLDS victory over the Cincinnati Reds and their come-from-behind, seven-game defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Yes, the Giants beat the Detroit Tigers handily this October. But where does this World Series fit among the best Fall Classics of all time?

1. 1975: Cincinnati Reds Beat the Boston Red Sox in Seven

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    Great World Series are all about iconic moments, and the ’75 World Series features the most iconic moment ever. With Game 6 on the line in the bottom of the 12th, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk powered a ball toward the left-field foul pole. It had the loft to clear the Green Monster, but the question was, would the hooking ball stay fair?

    As if willing the ball with his body English, Fisk threw his arms toward center field, and the game-winning shot was good. This clip has been memorialized time and again, even in such unlikely media as the Hollywood hit Good Will Hunting.

    Lost in the glow of this fine blast is the fact that, despite the setback, the Reds won the series in seven games, their first of two back-to-back titles as the Big Red Machine of the mid-70s. But that hardly matters: Fisk’s homer was one of the greatest postseason blasts of all time.

2. 1986: New York Mets over the Boston Red Sox

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    Ah, the poor Red Sox. Perhaps the second-most iconic World Series moment came in another championship the Sox lost.

    In Game 6 of the 1986 Series, Mookie Wilson hit a two-out, extra-inning ground ball that rolled straight through Bill Buckner’s legs, leading to the Mets victory and eventual title in arguably the second-best World Series of all time. 

3. 2004: Boston Red Sox Beat the St. Louis Cardinals

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    The Red Sox make the grade in all the best three World Series—finally, they win one of them.

    It took 86 years, but in 2004, the Curse of the Bambino was lifted. In 2004, the Boston Red Sox swept the Cardinals—but that wasn’t all that made this series so memorable. Part of the mystique came in how the Sox made it to the Series at all.

    After being down three games to zero against their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, the Red Sox went on a tear, winning four straight to take the AL crown before steamrolling an underprepared Cardinals squad. Part of the Sox’ mojo that powered them to the title came from Curt Schilling’s famous bloody sock, a relic that now sits behind glass at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Honorable Mention: 1993 Toronto Blue Jays Beat Philadelphia

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    This generation’s version of Bill Mazeroski’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth that powered the Pirates to victory over the Yankees in the 1960 Fall Classic, in 1993 Joe Carter smashed a ball into the left-center-field seats of the Toronto SkyDome to win the second straight World Series championship for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Game-winning home runs are special; World Series-winning home runs are nothing short of magic. This blast, and series, was even more memorable because Carter hit his blast off Phillies closer “Wild Thing” Mitch Williams, a pitcher considered near-unhittable at the time. 

The 2012 San Francisco Giants over the Detroit Tigers

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    Though all of these World Series games have been fun to watch, nowhere in this championship has there been the iconic moment that characterizes the greatest World Series of all time.

    There have been excellent performances, surely—Pablo Sandoval’s three home runs off of Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Game 1 comes to mind, as does the Giants pitchers’ prowess in Games 2 and 3, both of which were won by the Giants 2-0—but there have been no truly spectacular sights in this year’s Fall Classic.

    We can simply say it was good, be impressed by the Giants’ run, and leave it at that. Of course, it’s still a shame that baseball fans, like the Detroit Tigers team, will be forced to hibernate through a long, cold winter until players take the field again.

    But if this year’s World Series wasn’t a memorable clash for the ages, it surely wasn’t one of history’s worst World Series matches, either. Which begs the question: What were the worst World Series of all time?

3. 1919: Cincinnati Reds over Chicago White Sox

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    With America freshly emerged from the global devastation that was World War I, many looked to baseball to return to the simplicity and purity that the country had known before the war. Unfortunately, the 1919 World Series would not deliver.

    In a match-fixing scheme orchestrated by the notorious Arnold Rothstein, the White Sox threw the Series to the Reds via a payoff conspiracy between figures in the criminal underworld and White Sox players.

    This eventually resulted in a lifetime ban for eight players by newly-appointed baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis—among them, star player and fan favorite "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. 

2. 1989: Oakland A’s over San Francisco Giants

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    The 1989 World Series looked to have all the makings of a classic. The powerhouse A’s were coming off a loss to the in-state rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 World Series and now were set to match up against an even more bitter nemesis: local foes the San Francisco Giants. It was a subway series, the first in baseball since the New York Yankees faced the old Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, and it had all the makings of a winner.

    The only problem was, it wasn’t.

    On October 17, the Loma Prieta earthquake interrupted the beginning of Game Three at Candlestick Park. 67 people died in the Bay Area, and it took ten days before the World Series was resumed – and then, only due to mounting public sentiment to hold the games despite the tragedy.

    The A’s won this Series in a four-game sweep, but it almost didn’t matter. The 1989 World Series was little more than an afterthought given the horrific natural disaster that split the contest and the cities themselves in two. 

1 (tie). 1904 and 1994 – No Series

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    Since the creation of the World Series between AL and NL champions in 1903, there have been only two seasons in which the World Series was not played. It was played through war in 1942-1944, and it was played through terrorist attacks in 2001. But in 1904, there was no World Series because the NL champion New York Giants refused to play the AL champion Boston Americans (now the Red Sox). The Giants claimed it was due to the AL being an “inferior” league; in reality, they were more likely afraid that they might lose, as the Pittsburgh Pirates did to Boston in 1903’s inaugural Fall Classic.

    In 1994, the World Series failed to take place for a different reason: the season had been cancelled due to a players’ strike. Though the 1981 season was also affected by strike, that World Series took place; only in 1904 and 1994 was there no interleague championship series.

    Let’s hope it’s another ninety years at least until fans have to sit through another fall without one.