There’s a novelty to the 2015 World Series, and it has nothing to do with Daniel Murphy’s now-curtailed home run streak, the Royals’ repeating or the Mets returning after a 15-year absence.
In the 54 years since MLB began adding franchises, teams that didn’t exist in the first half of the last century had never both made the Series. Until now.
Somewhere, Ford Frick, the commissioner who moved like an executive Molina on the issue, sees the wisdom of expansion.
So do fans in Kansas City and New York, both of whom had teams in the ’50s, lost them and saw them succeed in other cities. The Athletics, a supply line to the Yankees while in K.C., won three straight World Series in Oakland in the decade after moving there. The Dodgers did too in Los Angeles, and the Giants have won three in the last decade.
The wonder is it’s taken so long to have an all-expansion Series. It’s not all the fault of the Yankees, who have won as many World Series (nine) as all expansion teams in the last 54 years and appeared in nearly as many (15-21).
For whatever reason, expansion teams in baseball haven’t succeeded as they have in other sports. Eight of baseball newest 14 teams have never won the World Series. Only the Blue Jays (born in 1977), Mets (1962) and Marlins (1993) have won two. The Mariners have never appeared in a World Series in their 38 seasons, or the Nationals nee Expos in their 46 (thanks maybe to the 1994 strike).
Yes, Cubs fans wonder what’s the rush.
In all, expansion teams have won nine World Series, lost 12 and had only seven previous opportunities for an all-newbie World Series. (Trivia: name the seven. Answer below)
Compare that to the NHL, whose expansion teams have won 27 titles and had all-expansion finals 19 times, and the NBA, which has had 20 expansion titlists in approximately the same time. Granted, both leagues have more opportunities: the NHL increased from six teams in 1966 to today’s 30, and the NBA from nine to today’s 30. And one player — Michael Jordan — can tip the balance in the NBA more than Barry Bonds ever could. Both the NHL and NBA had help from rival leagues; Frick thought a third league might be the best way to go, and maybe he wasn’t wrong.
MLB has now gone 17 years without expanding, its longest stretch since it first started adding teams (the Blue Jays and Mariners were added in 1977; the Marlins and Rockies in 1993). It makes you wonder what and where is next.
The NFL might take its sport to places that aren’t interested — and, really, how many times can you send the Jaguars to London without the Brits catching on? — but MLB can do more than sell shirts and jackets overseas. It already has an engaged audience in the Carribean, in South America, Asia and Australia, even if Zack Greinke doesn’t want to go.
A decade or two ago commissioner Bud Selig talked a lot about contraction, though you didn’t hear much of that word when Selig was on his farewell tour last year. And you won’t again, because the union won that fight.
The new commissioner, Rob Manfred, is busy answering questions about minority hirings and Pete Rose, which warrant his attention. We’ll see where he takes the sport — literally — over the next few years.
Trivia answer: The seven expansion teams that lost league championship series which prevented all-expansion World Series: the 1980 Astros lost to the Phillies, who then beat the Royals; the 1984 Royals lost to the Tigers, who then beat the Padres; the 1986 Angels lost to the Red Sox, who then lost to the Mets; the 2000 and 2001 Mariners, who lost to the Yankees, who then beat the Mets, but lost to the D’backs; the 2005 Angels, who lost to the White Sox, who then beat the Astros; the 2011 Brewers, who lost to the Cardinals, who then beat the Rangers.