World Series Notes
by Lincoln Mitchell
October 28, 2023
Every year, even if I have no rooting interest in the two teams, when the World Series is about to start I feel a bit like the Jack Nicholson character in the World Series scene from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I confess that I have not watched every inning, and to be completely honest, fewer than 30 innings, of the postseason, so am not in a position to provide a good analysis of what to expect in this World Series. Similarly, I am not going to engage in the intelligence insulting activity of the “Keys to the game” genre which usually amount to little more than the jaw droppingly obvious statement that the winning team has to score more runs in four of the games. I am more interested in some of the fun and quirky sides to this World Series. Some may provide insight into the game’s history. Others are just for fun, so I hope you enjoy this pre-game warmup.
Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy will be managing in his fifth World Series fully 25 years after he managed in his first oe. The only manager in baseball history with a longer span between first and last World Series appearances was Connie Mack whose Philadelphia Athletics dropped the 1905 World Series four games to one to the Giants. Twenty-six years later in the 1931 World Series, Mack’s Athletics lost to the Cardinals in seven games.
Bochy will become the first person to manage in the World Series during three different Democratic presidential administration: Clinton, Obama and now Biden.
There have been fifteen previous World Series where one of the teams did not represent a city. The Brooklyn Dodgers played in nine, the Minnesota Twins in three the Rangers in two and the Diamondbacks in one. However, this is the first World Series in which neither team represents a city.
The Rangers have never won a World Series. If they win this year the only teams without a World Series championship will be the Padres, Rays, Mariners, Brewers and Rockies.
The Rangers and Diamondbacks began this postseason with the 5th and 6th seed in their league. They defeated some very good teams to get to the World Series. Some may be upset that the Braves, Dodgers, Rays, Phillies and Orioles were eliminated by teams with a worse regular season record. I don't see this is a big problem. Baseball has opted for a tournament style postseason. Everybody knew that before the season started. And, to win a tournament you have to, you know, win the tournament.
This problem is also not altogether new. For example, during the four division and no wild card period from 1969-1993 there were also years when inferior teams snuck into the World Series. In 1973, the Mets won 82 regular season games tied for the fourth best record in the National League and ninth best overall. The beat the a Reds team in the playoffs that had won 17 more games and took an A’s team that had won 94 games to the seventh game of the World Series. Fifteen years later a Twins team with the fifth best record in the American League and ninth best overall, beat a Tigers team that had won 13 more regular season games in the ALCS and went on to beat a Cardinals team with ten more regular season wins the World Series.
The Diamondbacks are the most anonymous team to make it to the World Series in some time. Corbin Carroll is the team’s best player and has a very bright future, but it not yet well known. For casual fans, the most famous Diamondback might be Madison Bumgarner who was released back in April.
It is an article of faith among much of the chattering baseball class that the way to build a team is by developing talent through the minor leagues. The Rangers present strong evidence to the contrary. Three of their four best players, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Nathan Eovaldi, got to the Rangers by signing big free agent contracts.
Whichever team wins this World Series will become the tenth team to accomplish that since the Yankees last won a championship. That is the kind of thing the rest of the baseball world won’t notice, but it is a reminder of just how lost baseball’s wealthiest franchise is.
The Diamondbacks scored fifteen fewer runs than their opponents during the regular season. If they beat the Rangers in the World Series, the Diamondbacks will become the first team to win the World Series after being outscored in the regular season since those 1987 Twins.
The oldest player in this World Series is 39-year-old future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer who came over to the Rangers in a mid-season trade from the Mets. Scherzer began his career back in 2008 with, you guessed it, the Diamondbacks. In his first World Series start, Scherzer pitched 6.1 innings of solid baseball, giving up only three runs. He left the game with his Tigers tied 3-3 of the fourth and final game of the 2012 World Series. The Tigers were swept that year by the Giants managed by, you guessed it again, Bruce Bochy.
I suppose I have to end this with a prediction, so here it is. I don’t know who will win, but whatever the outcome it won’t be because of momentum, wanting it more, knowing how to win or divine intervention.