Of the 16 Original Teams, Who Hasn't Played Whom in the World Series?
Tonight we get the second match-up ever between the Red Sox and Dodgers in the World Series. The first was in 1916.
Back then, the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, enjoying their first pennant, while the Red Sox, who had a young pitcher named Babe Ruth on their staff (who won Game 2, pitching 14 innings of 1-run ball), were the best team in baseball. They'd won every time they gone to the World Series—1903, 1912, 1915—and they would win this one, too, 4 games to 1. They would win in 1918. The future was theirs. The whole century was theirs.
All of this has made me wonder if the Red Sox had played every one of the original eight NL teams in the World Series.
Turns out they‘ve played seven. They’re missing the Braves—their old Boston rivals. Wouldn't that be something? We might‘ve gotten that this year but for a few breaks. Maybe we’ll get it next year.
That, of course, raised another question: Has any of the original 16 teams played all eight of the other league's original teams in the World Series?
The answer is the obvious one: the Yankees, of course.
They‘ve won 40 pennants, so it would be pretty amazing if they’d missed any of the original eight. They'd actually collected all eight by 1957 when they knocked off the last one, the Braves, then in Milwaukee. Hell, the Yanks have at least doubles on every NL original team. Here are the numbers:
|Yankees Opponent||No. of WS matchups|
All 11 of those Yankees-Dodgers matchups, by the way, were between 1941 and 1981. If you were watching the World Series then, you had a 27% chance it was Yankees-Dodgers. Oy. If you were watchingn between 1947 and 1956, you had a 60% chance it was Yankees-Dodgers.
Other fun facts:
- The Phillies have faced the fewest original 16 opponents in the World Series—just three: Red Sox in 1915, Yankees in 1940 and 2009, Orioles in 1983. They‘ve never beaten any of them. The Phils’ two World championships are against expansion teams: the 1980 Royals and the 2008 Rays.
- The AL team with the fewest original 16 WS opponents? White Sox and Indians: four each.
- Senators/Twins (6 times), Pirates (7), Reds (9) and Cubs (11) are the only teams to have only played original 16 teams in the World Series.
- The most common non-Yankees matchup is a three-way tie between Giants/A‘s, Red Sox/Cardinals and Tigers/Cubs. Each has met in the Series four times.
- Besides the Red Sox, the other teams that just need one more to complete the set are the Dodgers (need: Tigers) and Giants (need: Orioles).
- Expansion teams have made up almost half of MLB since 1998, but only once, in 2015 (Royals vs. Mets) have they faced each other in the World Series.
For the completists out there, here’s what each original team needs to complete the set:
|Braves||vs.||White Sox||Orioles||Tigers||Red Sox|
The 21st century is beginning the way the 20th century did for the Boston Red Sox. They've been to the World Series three times—2004, 2007 and 2013—and won all three. Now they face the Dodgers, who, for an added touch of irony, are managed by Dave Roberts, the man whose stolen base in the 9th inning of Game 4 of the ALCS began the turnaround for the Sox. Will he help stop the resurgence he began? Or will they keep winning? Maybe the future, the whole century, is theirs.