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The World Series is the annual championship series of North American-based Major League Baseball (MLB), played since 1903 between the American League (AL) and National League (NL) team champions. 109 Series have been contested, with the AL winning 63 and the NL winning 46. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played in October, which is one of the fall (autumn) months in North America, it is often referred to as the Fall Classic. The most recent World Series was won by the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the St. Louis Cardinals four games to two in 2013. In the American League, the New York Yankees have played in 40 World Series and won 27, the Oakland/Philadelphia Athletics have played in 14 and won 9, and the Boston Red Sox have played in 12 and won 8, including the first World Series. In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals have appeared in 19 and won 11, the San Francisco/New York Giants have played in 19 World Series and won 7, and the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers have appeared in 18 and won 6.
Until the formation of the American Association in 1882 as a second major league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (1871–75) and then the National League (founded 1876) represented the top level of organized baseball in the United States. All championships went to whoever had the best record at the end of the season, without a postseason series being played. Starting in 1884 and going through 1890, the National League and the American Association faced each other in a series of games at the end of the season to determine an overall champion. These matchups were disorganized in comparison to the modern Series: games played ranged from as few as three in 1884 (Providence defeated New York three games to zero), to a high of fifteen in 1887 (Detroit beat St. Louis ten games to five), and both the 1885 and 1890 Series ended in ties, each team having won three games with one tie game.
The 19th-century competitions are, however, not officially recognized as part of World Series history by Major League Baseball, as it considers 19th-century baseball to be a prologue to the modern baseball era. Until about 1960, some sources treated the 19th-century Series on an equal basis with the post-19th-century series. After about 1930, however, many authorities list the start of the World Series in 1903 and discuss the earlier contests separately. (For example, the 1929 World Almanac and Book of Facts lists "Baseball's World Championships 1884–1928" in a single table, but the 1943 edition lists "Baseball World Championships–1903-1942".)
Following the collapse of the American Association after the 1891 season, the National League was again the only major league. The league championship was awarded in 1892 by a playoff between half-season champions. This scheme was abandoned after one season. Beginning in 1893 — and continuing until divisional play was introduced in 1969 — the pennant was awarded to the first-place club in the standings at the end of the season. For four seasons, 1894–97, the league champions played the runners-up in the post season championship series called the Temple Cup. A second attempt at this format was the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup series, which was played only once, in 1900.
In 1901, the American League was formed as a second major league. No championship series were played in 1901 or 1902 as the National and American Leagues fought each other for business supremacy.
After two years of bitter competition and player raiding (in 1902, the AL and NL champions even went so far as to challenge each other to a tournament in football after the end of the baseball season), the National and American Leagues made peace and, as part of the accord, several pairs of teams squared off for interleague exhibition games after the 1903 season. These series were arranged by the participating clubs, as the 1880s World's Series matches had been. One of them matched the two pennant winners, Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL and Boston Americans (later known as the Red Sox) of the AL; that one is known as the 1903 World Series. It had been arranged well in advance by the two owners, as both teams were league leaders by large margins. Boston upset Pittsburgh by five games to three, winning with pitching depth behind Cy Young and Bill Dinneen and with the support of the band of Royal Rooters. The Series brought much civic pride to Boston and proved the new American League could beat the Nationals.
In his book Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883, Simon Winchester mentions in passing that the World Series was named for the New York World newspaper, but this view is disputed.
The 1904 Series, if it had been held, would have been between the AL's Boston Americans (Boston Red Sox) and the NL's New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). At that point there was no governing body for the World Series nor any requirement that a Series be played. Thus the Giants' owner, John T. Brush, refused to allow his team to participate in such an event, citing the "inferiority" of the upstart American League. John McGraw, the Giants' manager, even went so far as to say that his Giants were already "world champions" since they were the champions of the "only real major league". At the time of the announcement, their new cross-town rivals, the New York Highlanders (now the New York Yankees), were leading the AL, and the prospect of facing the Highlanders did not please Giants management. Boston won on the last day of the season, and the leagues had previously agreed to hold a World's Championship Series in 1904, but it was not binding, and Brush stuck to his original decision. In addition to political reasons, Brush also factually cited the lack of rules under which money would be split, where games would be played, and how they would be operated and staffed.
During the winter of 1904–05, however, feeling the sting of press criticism, Brush had a change of heart and proposed what came to be known as the "Brush Rules," under which the series were played subsequently. One rule was that player shares would come from a portion of the gate receipts for the first four games only. This was to discourage teams from "fixing" early games in order to prolong the series and make more money. Receipts for later games would be split among the two clubs and the National Commission, the governing body for the sport, which was able to cover much of its annual operating expense from World Series revenue. Most importantly, the now-official and compulsory World's Series matches were operated strictly by the National Commission itself, not by the participating clubs.
With the new rules in place and the National Commission in control, McGraw's Giants made it to the 1905 Series, and beat the Philadelphia A's four games to one. The Series was subsequently held annually, until 1994, when it was canceled due to a players' strike.
The list of postseason rules evolved over time. In 1925, Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets convinced others to adopt as a permanent rule the 2–3–2 pattern used in 1924. Prior to 1924, the pattern had been to alternate by game or to make another arrangement convenient to both clubs. The 2–3–2 pattern has been used ever since save for the 1943 and 1945 World Series, which followed a 3–4 pattern due to World War II travel restrictions. (The 2–3–2 pattern was used in 1944 because both teams were based in the same home stadium.)
Gambling and game-fixing had been a problem in professional baseball from the beginning; star pitcher Jim Devlin was banned for life in 1877, when the National League was just two years old. Baseball's gambling problems came to a head in 1919, when seven players of the Chicago White Sox were alleged to have conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.
The Sox had won the Series in 1917 and were heavy favorites to beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1919, but first baseman Chick Gandil had other plans. Gandil, in collaboration with gambler Joseph "Sport" Sullivan, approached his teammates and got six of them to agree to throw the Series: starting pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, shortstop Swede Risberg, left fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, center fielder Happy Felsch, and utility infielder Fred McMullin. Third baseman Buck Weaver knew of the fix but declined to participate, hitting .324 for the series from 11 hits and committing no errors in the field. The Sox, who were promised $100,000 for cooperating, proceeded to lose the Series in eight games, pitching poorly, hitting poorly and making many errors. Though he took the money, Jackson insisted to his death that he played to the best of his ability in the series (he was the best hitter in the series, but had markedly worse numbers in the games the White Sox lost).
During the Series, writer and humorist Ring Lardner had facetiously called the event the "World's Serious". The Series turned out to indeed have serious consequences for the sport. After rumors circulated for nearly a year, the players were suspended in September 1920.
The "Black Sox" were acquitted in a criminal conspiracy trial. However, baseball in the meantime had established the office of Commissioner in an effort to protect the game's integrity, and the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned all of the players involved, including Weaver, for life. The White Sox would not win a World Series again until 2005.
The events of the 1919 Series, segueing into the "live ball" era, marked a point in time of change of the fortunes of several teams. The two most prolific World Series winners to date, the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals, did not win their first championship until the 1920s; and three of the teams that were highly successful prior to 1920 (the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs) went the rest of the 20th century without another World Series win. The Red Sox and White Sox finally won again in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The Cubs are still waiting for their next trophy, and have not appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945, the longest drought of any MLB club.
The New York Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox after the 1919 season, appeared in their first World Series two years later in 1921, and became frequent participants thereafter. Over a period of 45 years from 1920 to 1964, the Yankees played in 29 World Series championships, winning 20. The team's dynasty reached its apex between 1947 and 1964, when the Yankees reached the World Series 15 times in eighteen years, helped by an agreement with the Kansas City Athletics (after that team moved from Philadelphia during 1954–1955 offseason) whereby the teams made several deals advantageous to the Yankees (until ended by new Athletics' owner Charles O. Finley). During that span, the Yankees played in all World Series except 1948, 1954, and 1959, winning ten. From 1949 to 1953, the Yankees won the World Series five years in a row; from 1936–39 the Yankees won four World Series Championships in a row. There are only two other occasions when a team has won at least three consecutive World Series: 1972 to 1974 by the Oakland Athletics, and 1998 to 2000 by the New York Yankees.
In an 18-year span from 1947 to 1964, except for 1948 and 1959, the World Series was played in New York City, featuring at least one of the three teams located in New York at the time. The Dodgers and Giants moved to California after the 1957 season, leaving the Yankees as the lone team in the city until the Mets were enfranchised in 1962. During this period, other than 1948, 1954, and 1959, the Yankees represented the American League in the World Series.
In the years 1947, 1949, 1951–53, and 1955–56, both teams in the World Series were from New York, with the Yankees playing against either the Dodgers or Giants.
In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants took their long-time rivalry to the west coast, moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, bringing Major League Baseball west of St. Louis and Kansas City.
The Dodgers were the first of the two clubs to contest a World Series on the west coast, defeating the Chicago White Sox in 1959. The 1962 Giants made the first California World Series appearance of that franchise, losing to the Yankees. The Dodgers made three World Series appearances in the 1960s: a 1963 win over the Yankees, a 1965 win over the Minnesota Twins and a 1966 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
In 1968, the Kansas City Athletics relocated to Oakland and the following year 1969, the National League granted a franchise to San Diego as the San Diego Padres. The A's became a powerful dynasty in 1970s Major League Baseball while the Padres have only two World Series appearances: a 1984 loss to the Detroit Tigers and a 1998 loss to the Yankees.
Prior to 1969, the National League and the American League each crowned its champion (the "pennant winner") based on the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season.
A structured playoff series began in 1969, when both the National and American Leagues were reorganized into two divisions each, East and West. The two division winners within each league played each other in a best-of-five League Championship Series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven.
The National League Championship Series (NLCS) and American League Championship Series (ALCS), since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2–3–2 format: Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home-field advantage, and Games 3, 4 and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not.
MLB night games started being held in 1935 by the Cincinnati Reds, but the World Series remained a strictly daytime event for years thereafter. In the final game of the 1949 World Series, a Series game was finished under lights for the first time. The first scheduled night World Series game was Game 4 of the 1971 World Series at Three Rivers Stadium. Afterward, World Series games were frequently scheduled at night, when television audiences were larger. Game 6 of the 1987 World Series was the last World Series game played in the daytime, indoors at the Metrodome in Minnesota. (The last World Series played outdoors during the day was the final game of the 1984 series in Detroit's Tiger Stadium.)
During this seven-year period, only three teams won the World Series: the Oakland Athletics from 1972 to 1974, Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978. This is the only time in World Series history in which three teams have won consecutive series in succession. This period was book-ended by World Championships for the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1971 and 1979.
However, the Baltimore Orioles made three consecutive World Series appearances: 1969 (losing to the "amazing" eight-year old franchise New York Mets), 1970 (beating the Reds in their first World Series appearance of the decade) and 1971 (losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well their 1979 appearance, when they again lost to the Pirates), and the Los Angeles Dodgers' back-to-back World Series appearances in 1977 and 1978 (both losses to the New York Yankees), as well in 1974 losing against the cross-state rival Oakland A's.
The National and American Leagues operated under essentially identical rules until 1973, when the American League adopted the designated hitter rule, allowing its teams to use another hitter to bat in place of the (usually) weak-hitting pitcher. The National League did not adopt the DH rule. This presented a problem for the World Series, whose two contestants would now be playing their regular-season games under different rules. From 1973 to 1975, the World Series did not include a DH. Starting in 1976, the World Series allowed for the use of a DH in even-numbered years only. (The Cincinnati Reds swept the 1976 Series in four games, using the same nine-man lineup in each contest.) Finally, in 1986, baseball adopted the current rule in which the DH is used for World Series games played in the AL champion's park but not the NL champion's. Thus, the DH rule's use or non-use can help the team that has home-field advantage.
The 1984 Detroit Tigers gained distinction as just the third team in major league history (after the 1927 New York Yankees and 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers) to lead a season wire-to-wire, from opening day through the World Series. In the process, Tigers' skipper Sparky Anderson became the first manager to win a World Series title in both leagues, having previously won in 1975 and 1976 with the Cincinnati Reds.
When the 1989 World Series began, it was notable chiefly for being the first ever World Series matchup between the two San Francisco Bay Area teams, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. Oakland won the first two games at home, and the two teams crossed the bridge to San Francisco to play Game 3 on Tuesday, October 17. ABC's broadcast of Game 3 began at 5 pm local time, approximately 30 minutes before the first pitch was scheduled. At 5:04, while broadcasters Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were narrating highlights and the teams were warming up, the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred (having a surface-wave magnitude of 7.1 with an epicenter ten miles (16 km) northeast of Santa Cruz, CA). The earthquake caused substantial property and economic damage in the Bay Area and killed 63 people. Television viewers saw the video signal deteriorate and heard Michaels say "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth--" before the feed from Candlestick Park was lost. Fans filing into the stadium saw Candlestick sway visibly during the quake. Television coverage later resumed, using backup generators, with Michaels becoming a news reporter on the unfolding disaster. Approximately 30 minutes after the earthquake, Commissioner Fay Vincent ordered the game to be postponed. Fans, workers, and the teams evacuated a blacked out (although still sunlit) Candlestick. Game 3 was finally played on October 27, and Oakland won that day and the next to complete a four-game sweep.
World Series games were contested outside of the United States for the first time in 1992, with the Toronto Blue Jays defeating the Atlanta Braves in six games. The World Series returned to Canada in 1993, with the Blue Jays victorious again, this time against the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. No other Series has featured a team from outside of the United States. Toronto is the only expansion team to win successive World Series titles. The 1993 World Series was also notable for being only the second championship concluded by a home run and the first concluded by a come-from-behind homer, after Joe Carter's three-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning sealed an 8–6 Toronto win in Game 6. The first Series to end with a homer was the 1960 World Series, when Bill Mazeroski hit a ninth-inning solo shot in Game 7 to win the championship for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1994, each league was restructured= into three divisions, with the three division winners and the newly introduced wild card winner advancing to a best-of-five playoff round (the "division series"), the National League Division Series (NLDS) and American League Division Series (ALDS). The team with the best league record is matched against the wild card team, unless they are in the same division, in which case, the team with the second-best record plays against the wild card winner. The remaining two division winners are pitted against each other. The winners of the series in the first round advance to the best-of-seven NLCS and ALCS. Due to a players' strike, however, the NLDS and ALDS were not played until 1995. Beginning in 1998, home field advantage was given to the team with the better regular season record, with the exception that the Wild Card team cannot get home-field advantage.
After the boycott of 1904, the World Series was played every year until 1994 despite World War I, the global influenza pandemic of 1918–19, the Great Depression of the 1930s, America's involvement in World War II, and even an earthquake in the host cities of the 1989 World Series. A breakdown in collective bargaining led to a strike in August 1994 and the eventual cancellation of the rest of the season, including the playoffs.
As the labor talks began, baseball franchise owners demanded a salary cap in order to limit payrolls, the elimination of salary arbitration, and the right to retain free agent players by matching a competitor's best offer. The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) refused to agree to limit payrolls, noting that the responsibility for high payrolls lay with those owners who were voluntarily offering contracts. One difficulty in reaching a settlement was the absence of a commissioner. When Fay Vincent was forced to resign in 1992, owners did not replace him, electing instead to make Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig acting commissioner. Thus the commissioner, responsible for ensuring the integrity and protecting the welfare of the game, was an interested party rather than a neutral arbiter, and baseball headed into the 1994 work stoppage without an independent commissioner for the first time since the office was founded in 1920.
The previous collective bargaining agreement expired on December 31, 1993, and baseball began the 1994 season without a new agreement. Owners and players negotiated as the season progressed, but owners refused to give up the idea of a salary cap and players refused to accept one. On August 12, 1994, the players went on strike. After a month passed with no progress in the labor talks, Selig canceled the rest of the 1994 season and the postseason on September 14. The World Series was not played for the first time in 90 years. The Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball at the time of the stoppage, with a record of 74–40. (Since their founding in 1969, the Expos, now the Washington Nationals, have never played in a World Series.)
The labor dispute lasted into the spring of 1995, with owners beginning spring training with replacement players. However, the MLBPA returned to work on April 2, 1995 after a federal judge, future U.S. Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that the owners had engaged in unfair labor practices. The season started on April 25 and the 1995 World Series was played as scheduled, with Atlanta beating Cleveland four games to two.
Prior to 2003, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated from year to year between the NL and AL. After the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game ended in a tie, MLB decided to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star Game. Originally implemented as a two-year trial from 2003 to 2004, the practice has been extended indefinitely. The American League won every All-Star Game since this change until 2010 and thus has enjoyed home-field advantage from 2002, when it also had home-field advantage based on the alternating schedule, through 2009.
As of the conclusion of the 2010 World Series, the AL and NL had each won the World Series four times since the All-Star Game was used to determine home-field advantage, though no Series from 2003 to 2010 had gone the full seven games. The 2011 World Series was the first of the All-Star Game home-field advantage era to go the full seven games.
American League (AL) teams have won 63 of the 109 World Series played (58%). The New York Yankees have won 27 titles, accounting for 25% of all series played and 43% of the wins by American League teams. The St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 World Series (10%) and 24% of the 46 National League victories.
When the first modern World Series was played in 1903, there were eight teams in each league. These 16 franchises, which are all still in existence, have won at least two World Series titles.
The number of teams was unchanged until 1961, with fourteen "expansion teams" joining MLB since then. Twelve have played in a World Series (excepting the Mariners and Expos/Nationals), and 20 of the 52 Series contested from 1961 to 2013 (38%) have featured one expansion team, always opposing one of the sixteen original teams. The expansion teams have won nine of the 20 Series (45%) in which they have played, which is 8% of all 108 series played since 1903.
This information is up to date through the 2013 World Series:
When two teams share the same state or metropolitan area, fans often develop strong loyalties to one and antipathies towards the other, sometimes building on already-existing rivalries between cities or neighborhoods. Before the introduction of interleague play in 1997, the only opportunity for two teams in different leagues to face each other in official competition would have been in a World Series.
Fourteen "Subway Series" have been played entirely within New York City, all including the American League's New York Yankees. Thirteen of them matched the Yankees with either the New York Giants or the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League. The initial instances occurred in 1921 and 1922, when the Giants beat the Yankees in consecutive World Series that were not technically "subway series" since the teams shared the Polo Grounds as their home ballpark. The last Subway Series involving the original New York ballclubs came in 1956, when the Yankees beat the Dodgers. The trio was separated in 1958 when the Dodgers and Giants moved to California, and an all-NY Series did not recur until 2000, when the Yankees defeated the New York Mets in five games.
The last World Series played entirely in one ballpark was the 1944 "Streetcar Series" between the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns. The Cardinals won in six games, all held in their shared home, Sportsman's Park.
The 1989 World Series, sometimes called the "Bay Bridge Series" or the "BART Series" (after the connecting transit line), featured the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, teams that play just across San Francisco Bay from each other. The series is most remembered for the major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area just before game 3 was scheduled to begin. The quake caused significant damage to both communities and severed the Bay Bridge that connects them, forcing the postponement of the series. Play resumed ten days later, and the A's swept the Giants in four games.
The historic rivalry between Northern and Southern California added to the interest in the Oakland Athletics-Los Angeles Dodgers series in 1974 and 1988 and in the San Francisco Giants' series against the then-Anaheim Angels in 2002.
Other than the St. Louis World Series of 1944, the only postseason tournament entirely within Missouri was the I-70 Series in 1985 (named for the Interstate Highway connecting the two cities) between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals, who won at home in the seventh game.
At the time the first modern World Series began in 1903, each league had eight clubs, all of which survive today (although sometimes in a different city or with a new nickname), comprising the "original sixteen".
When the World Series was first broadcast on television in 1947, it was only televised to a few surrounding areas, as coaxial inter-connected stations: New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Schenectady, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; and, environs surrounding these cities. In 1948:, games in Boston were only seen in the Northeast. Meanwhile, games in Cleveland were only seen in the Midwest and Pittsburgh. The games were open to all channels with a network affiliation. In all, the 1948 World Series was televised to fans in seven Midwestern cities: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Toledo. By 1949, World Series games could now be seen east of the Mississippi River. The games were open to all channels with a network affiliation. By 1950, World Series games could be seen in most of the country, but not all. 1951 marked the first time that the World Series was televised coast to coast. Meanwhile, 1955 marked the first time that the World Series was televised in color.
|Network||Number broadcast||Years broadcast||Future scheduled telecasts**[›]|
|ABC*[›]||11||1948, 1949, 1950, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995****[›] (Games 1, 4-5)||*[›]|
|CBS*[›]||8||1947***[›] (Games 3-4), 1948, 1949, 1950, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993||*[›]|
|DuMont*[›]||3||1947***[›] (Games 2, 6–7), 1948, 1949||*[›]|
|Fox||16||1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013||2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021|
|NBC*[›]||39||1947***[›] (Games 1, 5), 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1995****[›] (Games 2–3, 6), 1997, 1999||*[›]|
^ *: Not currently broadcasting Major League Baseball.
^ ***: Gillette, who produced World Series telecasts from roughly 1949-1965 (before 1966, local announcers, who were chosen by the Gillette Company, the Commissioner of Baseball, and NBC television, exclusively called the World Series), paid for airtime on DuMont's owned-and-operated Pittsburgh affiliate, WDTV (now KDKA-TV) air the World Series. In the meantime, Gillette also bought airtime on ABC, CBS, and NBC. More to the point, in some cities, the World Series was broadcast on three different stations at once.
^ ****: NBC was originally scheduled to televise the entire 1995 World Series; however, due to the cancellation of the 1994 Series (which had been slated for ABC, who last televised a World Series in 1989), coverage ended up being split between the two networks. Game 5 is, to date, the last Major League Baseball game to be telecast by ABC (had there been a Game 7, ABC would've televised it). This was the only World Series to be produced under the "Baseball Network" umbrella (a revenue sharing joint venture between Major League Baseball, ABC and NBC). In July 1995, both networks announced that they would be pulling out of what was supposed to be a six-year-long venture. NBC would next cover the 1997 (NBC's first entirely since 1988) and 1999 World Series over the course of a five-year-long contract, in which Fox would cover the World Series in even numbered years (1996, 1998 and 2000).
Despite its name, the World Series remains solely the championship of the major-league baseball teams in the United States and Canada, although MLB, its players, and North American media sometimes informally refer to World Series winners as "world champions of baseball."
The United States, Canada and Mexico (Liga Méxicana de Béisbol, established 1925) were the only professional baseball countries until a few decades into the 20th century. The first Japanese professional baseball efforts began in 1920. The current Japanese leagues date from the late 1940s (after World War II). Various Latin American leagues also formed around that time.
By the 1990s, baseball was played at a highly skilled level in many countries. Reaching North America's high-salary major leagues is the goal of many of the best players around the world, which gives a strong international flavor to the Series. Many talented players from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim, and elsewhere now play in the majors. One notable exception is Cuban citizens, because of the political tensions between the US and Cuba since 1959 (yet a number of Cuba's finest ballplayers have still managed to defect to the United States over the past half-century to play in the American professional leagues). Japanese professional players also have a difficult time coming to the North American leagues. They become free agents only after nine years playing service in NPB, although their Japanese teams may at any time "post" them for bids from MLB teams, which commonly happens at the player's request.
Several tournaments feature teams composed only of players from one country, similar to national teams in other sports. The World Baseball Classic, sponsored by Major League Baseball, uses a format similar to the FIFA World Cup to promote competition between nations every four years. The International Baseball Federation also sponsored a Baseball World Cup to crown a world champion. But as these teams do not feature the best talent from each nation, the public generally does not give much weight to the result of these tournaments. The Caribbean Series features competition among the league champions from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela but unlike the FIFA Club World Cup, there is no club competition that feature champions from all professional leagues across the world.
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