During the weeks leading up to ‘the Fall Classic’ baseball is the only topic on the lips of folk all across the land. Every year in October Major League Baseball’s (MLB) main event, the World Series, crowns a new champion.
The World Series, was first staged in 1903 and every year sees the culmination of a mighty long season - there’s a 162-game, five-month regular season, followed by a best-of-five Division series and a best-of seven Championship series for each league before the main event. But all roads lead to the World Series as 30 teams are whittled down to the finest two: The American League (AL) champ versus the top dog in the National League (NL). The pair face-off in a best-of-seven clash to determine the World Series Champion.
Where does the World Series take place? Matches alternate between a short series of games at the home field of each of the teams. The league that wins the MLB All-Star Game (a selection of the finest players from each division facing off) enjoys an advantage – meaning that the deciding match is played at their stadium - if the Series goes the full seven games of course! The 2014 World Series took place in both Kansas City, Missouri and in San Francisco, California as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals 4 games to 3.
The ultimate prize, of course, is to join legendary company in the pantheon of World Series winners but there’s also the coveted Commissioner’s Trophy, which the MLB awards to the victors and during the following season, the entire winning team is presented with World Series rings. Players, coaches, front-office executives and locker-room staff affiliated with the team all receive these special rings.
The iconic New York Yankees, in their pinstripe uniforms, have won 27 World Series Championships, more than any other team. The Bronx Bombers have also played in 40 Fall Classics, which is double the amount of the next most frequent participant, 2014’s winners the Giants. St Louis Cardinals have 11 wins and Oakland Athletics nine, while the Giants and Boston Red Sox have eight each. There remain eight franchises who have never won the World Series.
Befitting of a competition so old and storied, there are various famous curses surrounding the World Series. One involves the Red Sox, who didn't win a Championship between 1918 and 2004. Superstition and legend blame this on “the curse of the bambino”, referring to Boston’s sale of one of the great ever players, Babe “the Bambino” Ruth, to the Yankees in 1920.
Another relates to the Chicago Cubs, who won their last World Series in 1908 and haven't even managed to make it to the Fall Classic since 1945, when the owner of the city’s Billy Goat Tavern Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game at the iconic Wrigley Field because hit pet goat ‘s odor was bothering other fans in the vicinity. Sianis cursed the team, saying ominously “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” They haven’t, of course, and the curse of the Billy Goat was written into the sport’s lore.
The World Series is a test of endurance, skill and talent and few sporting events are more storied and steeped in tradition.
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