The Best World Series since 1990: Where Does 2010 Rank?
Many a person have made "Best of World Series" lists in recent years. With the conclusion of the 2010 World Series, it is time to rank the 2010 World Series with those of recent years.
For convenience's sake, I have reserved this list to include just those since 1990, when the wild card, PEDs, Braves and Yankees dynasties and the end of a few curses arrived.
I have ranked these series based on, not only on the drama of the series, but in the backstory and heart of the teams playing in them as well. With that in mind, let's begin.
20: 1994 World Series
No World Series. Enough said.
19: 2007 World Series: Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies
Here are the reasons this is the lowest series on the list:
No real comebacks in a four-game series. Despite two one-run affairs, they lack the drama of some of the other low-scoring games.
It seemed like all the drama peaked in the ALCS, with Boston's comeback from being down 3-1, and the peak of the Rockies' magical run.
And come on, after watching the Red Sox break their curse in 2004, wasn't everyone rooting for the Rockies?
18: 1998 World Series: New York Yankees vs. San Diego Padres
Good Game 1, with Tino Martinez's grand slam capping an excellent Yankee comeback and a decent one-run affair in Game 3, but come on, did anyone expect the Padres to have much of a chance anyway against arguably the greatest team since the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees?
The series loses points for being a four-gamer and lacks the background drama of the 1999, 2004 or 2005 Series. And while Game 1 was good, it isn't as classic as some of the other games in this list.
17: 2004 World Series: Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Excellent back-and-forth Game 1, with the Red Sox prevailing 11-9. Although not much else happened in the series (none of the other games were less than three-run affairs), it gains a lot of points for being the breaking of the Curse of the Bambino and the 2004 ALCS preceding it.
With such a historic comeback behind them, it seemed like the run continued, more so than in 2007 when it seemed to be the Rockies' run that abruptly ended in the series.
Some would probably say that the 2007 Series in itself was better than this one, but I think the emotional backup behind this one and the enormity of the preceding series (don't forget, the Cardinals had just finished their own epic NLCS) ranks it slightly higher up than 2007.
Sorry, Red Sox fans, but your two victories take two of the three lower spots.
16: 2006 World Series: Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
With the exception of Game 4, this wasn't that great of a series, but the improbability of the Cardinals' run (they won 83 games during the regular reason, the lowest of any World Series-winning team) made it noteworthy. The series also gains points for going five games (also the Tigers gain points for their run of their own).
Again, why does it seem a trend that the classic moments are in the Championship League Series and not the World Series?
15: 1999 World Series: New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves
Not much better than the 1998 World Series, but this couldn't be as easily predicted as the 1998 World Series, in which the Yankees steamrolled through the entire American League and could easily be predicted as winners in the 1998 World Series.
In contrast, the 1999 Series was touted as the final showdown between the goliaths of the '90s. Although such a true showdown never materialized, the matchup was arguably better than 1998.
While the Series loses points for a non-competitive Game 2 and a mediocre Yankee comeback in Game 1, it gains points for an unbelievable Game 3 and Chuck Knoblauch's two homers.
It also gains points for the deaths of the fathers of several of the players and the resiliency of all of time, Paul O' Neill in particular. The series also gains points for the classic NLCS that came before it and the "revenge" story of sorts that New Yorkers could feel in watching the Yankees win.
14: 2010 World Series: San Francisco Giants vs. Texas Rangers
Next to the Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants pulled off one of the larger upsets in recent hours (however, their upset of the Phillies was far greater) and while this story and the Giants' history is thrilling, the series itself doesn't rank up there with the true classics.
The Giants had great pitching, yes, and Game 5 was very, very good with Renteria's blast in the seventh, but despite that, only one other game was a two-run affair, and there were no one-run games or thrilling comebacks or whatnot.
I put it higher than 2006, 1999 and 2004 only because the story and heart of the Giants' pitching staff is historic (three dominant performances in the 2010 Series).
13: 2008 World Series: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Again, the 2008 ALCS was very, very classic, while the series seemed a bit anticlimatic.
The Rays and Phillies didn't have, say, the matchup power that the Yankees and Braves had. And while the Series went five games, the one real tense game (Game 3) was poorly played.
The Series does, however, gain big points for the Game 5 rain delay (the first in history).
I think it's better than 2006 and 2010, and some of the series behind it because, in general, the games were closer (four two-run games or less) and the closest game that included a comeback went into extras and didn't end in the 8th.
12: 2005 World Series: Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Astros
I'm sure a lot of you are wondering how a four-game series got ahead of the breaking of the Curse of the Bambino, the Yankees-Braves matchup, and the many five-gamers on the list. Well, it's because every single game was close—every one.
It just so happened that the White Sox won every one, but still, all of them were two-run affairs or less. Two ended on the Sox's final at-bat, and Game 2 featured a grand slam and to date, Game 3 is the longest World Series game both in time and innings played.
Plus, for argument's sake, despite what Red Sox fans will tell you, the drought that the White Sox suffered through was actually longer (they hadn't won a Series since 1917) and the Astros were making their first appearance (contrary to the Cardinals who hold the NL record for World Series wins).
11: 2000 World Series: New York Yankees vs. New York Mets
I'm not going to give this series bonus points for being the completion of the last true dynasty to date. I give it bonus points because, like 2005, every game was close and tense (especially Game 1).
However, since this series went five games and the Subway Series matchup is one of the cooler matchups in recent history, I'll give the edge to this one.
Plus, it features the Clemens-Piazza moment. Who can forget that one?
10: 2003 World Series: Florida Marlins vs. New York Yankees
Okay, we've reached the heavy hitters now: the series that featured Games 6 and 7.
I'm afraid to say it, but the lowest one on the list for me is this one. No one gave the Marlins any chance against a pumped Yankee team that had just walked off to the World Series courtesy of Aaron Boone.
And when the Yankees took two out of three to open the series and came back in the ninth in Game 4, I'm sure people expected the Marlins to fold.
They didn't. Thanks in part to the pitching of Josh Beckett, the Marlins completed a shocking upset. Still, the Marlins 1997 Championship was arguably a better series, and the series loses points for Games 2 and 3, which were not close at all.
9: 2009 World Series: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees
I'm giving this series matchup points here. Labeled the "Turnpike Series," the series matched up both league's best teams.
Sure, the wildcard upstart teams are great, but sometimes it's nice to see the two best teams in baseball duke it out for gold and glory like the old days of yore. Shockingly, it was the first series in six years to feature a Game 6 (the longest drought of such in history).
While the series loses points for a Game 1 that wasn't close, it gains points for the performances of Chase Utley, Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui, and for Games 2, 4 and 5. Game 4 especially since it featured Johnny Damon's Mad Dash. It also featured the first use of instant replay in series history, which is cool.
Oh, and back stories of the two teams (the Yankees missing the playoffs in 2008 for the first time since 1994 and the Phillies repeating for National League for the first time since the 1991-92 Braves) are enough to push this series ahead of 2003.
8: 1997 World Series: Cleveland Indians vs. Florida Marlins
Game 7 is classic. It had a ninth inning collapse. It had the Indians' storyline (trying to overcome years of disappointment) and the Marlins 'storyline (trying to win their first title). It had a walk-off hit too.
Still, Games 1, 2, 4 and 6 were not very close and Game 2, while including a 7-7 tie going into the ninth, was poorly played (17 walks).
Yes, there are some six-game series ahead of this one. But I feel that some of back stories in those games are stronger than in this one, and while Game 7 is classic, none of the others truly are.
7: 1996 World Series: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees
Yeah, yeah, I know. How could this series and a great Game 4 not be rated higher?
Well, because aside from that Game 4 and a 1-0 Game 5, the other games were not close. Plus, said Game 4 ended in the least dramatic way possible: a walk-off walk.
Still, it remains one of the great classics and is enough to push this one ahead of others.
However, the backstory in this series is incredible, which is why it is ahead of the Yankees' other six-game series and 1997. It signaled the turn from the Braves' dominance in the early '90s to the dominance of the Yankees in the late '90s, epitomized by the Yankees' six-run comeback in Game 4.
Also, the whole Joe Torre overcoming his brother's heart surgery to win was a nice backstory addition too.
6: 1993 World Series: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies
I give this series major points for having a series-ending, come-from-behind home run involved.
Why is it higher than 1996?
Game 4 of 1996 and Game 6 of this one are each classic games. But this one had its own Game 4, which featured the largest slugfest in World Series history.
Sure, the underlying storylines were less intense than 1996 (the Braves trying to repeat their championship seems more intense than the Blue Jays' and, at the time, the Yankees' drought was actually longer than the Phillies' drought), but Games 4 and 6 nudge it ahead just a bit.
5: 1995 World Series: Atlanta Braves Vs. Cleveland Indians
You can probably tell by now that I'm big on backstories, and this one had a lot of that.
It had the whole Indians storyline that 1997 had. And it had a great Braves storyline, trying to win a World Series after years of dominance (with arguably one of their weaker teams in such years) as underdogs. Just great storylines.
To top it off, David Justice's conflict with Atlanta is a great symbol of what baseball is all about: Redemption.
Plus, the series itself was pretty good too, with five one-run games, an incredible Game 3 and a classic performance from Tom Glavine as the clincher (with David Justice's home run to boot).
I also give this series points for it being Atlanta's only championship in its string of great years.
4: 1992 World Series: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Atlanta Braves
In actuality, most people probably remember 1993 because of Joe Carter's home run more than 1992, but the truth is 1992 was a much better series as a whole.
Some of the storylines undercutting the series, while strong (Blue Jays first appearance; Braves trying to win after losing in '91), aren't as good as 1996 or 1995, but the games themselves were great.
There were four one-run games, three of which were decided by the team's last at-bat. There was Devon White's extraordinary catch in Game 3 that should have been a triple play. And there was the extra-inning affair in Game 6 that is ranks up there with the truly white series-ending games.
I also give the series props for it coming after the classic Game 7 that the Braves won in the NLCS.
3: 2002 World Series: Anaheim Angels vs. San Francisco Giants
A great series that featured three classic games.
A 10-11 affair in Game 2, a 4-3 Game 4 win that the Giants won in the eighth and one of the greatest comebacks for a team on the brink of elimination in Game 6, with the Angels coming from behind 5-0 to win 6-5. And while Game 7 isn't up there with 1991, 2001, 1960 or whatnot, it is Game 7 and any seven-gamer gets extra points.
Plus, the backstories were strong too. Two teams were vying to break long spells of disappointment. Barry Bonds exorcised his postseason demons with a superhuman performance (although he was probably on 'roids at this point, but we'll leave that discussion for later). And who can forget the adorable Darren Baker as the Giants bat boy?
2: 1991 World Series: Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves
I'm sure a lot of you would pick this one as No. 1. Believe me, I spent a lot of time debating on which of the top two series would be No. 1.
First of all, let's focus on 1991, which was indeed one of the greatest World Series of all time.
It featured two teams that a year ago had finished last in their respective divisions. It featured four—count 'em four—walk-off hits, three of which occurred in extra innings. It featured Kirby Puckett's now-legendary performance in Game 6, with a spectacular catch and a walk-off home run.
It also featured a Game 7 that was 0-0 after nine innings (the only time this has happened) and Jack Morris's gutsy, incredible 10 innings of shutout ball.
So if that's the case, how could this not be No. 1?
1: 2001 World Series: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. New York Yankees
Let me explain why this is No. 1, not just in the past 20 years, but in history.
First of all, it featured three of the greatest World Series games of all time. The Yankees rally in Games 4 and 5 after being down two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. In game 7, Clemens and Schilling, who each won 20 games, faced off and the Diamondbacks did the thing that 99 times out of 100 is impossible: beat Mariano Rivera. And Game 3 wasn't too shabby either.
It featured two teams that believed they were destined to win. Arizona had arguably one of the best one-two punches in history with the Big Unit and Schilling, and the Yankees had played through one of the greatest ALCS series and beat the 116-game Mariners to get there.
Okay, okay, that is no better than 1991. But one thing surrounds the series that 1991 could not possibly capture: 9/11.
Coming on the heels of the horrific terrorist bombings, the entire U.S. was wrapped around the two teams in a way that no other series had. I have spoken to several Yankee-haters who told me they rooted for them that year because it was New York City.
Am I biased because I saw this Series with my own eyes and was barely alive in 1991? Sure. But because of 9/11, I still believe this is the greatest World Series of all time.