A Brief History Of The MLB World Series

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Each year, the two best baseball teams in the two MLB leagues (American and National) compete in a best-of-seven championship series known as the World Series
Major League Baseball has been an American institution for over a century. Each year, the two best baseball teams in the two MLB leagues (American and National) compete in a best-of-seven championship series known as the World Series in order to determine the top team in the game. Some of the greatest players in MLB history -- Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Pete Rose, Sandy Koufax, and Nolan Ryan have all appeared and gathered their championship rings in this tilt between greats. The World Series has served, at times, as more than a mere game of baseball: it has been a metaphor for America`s successes and failures, through two World Wars, a Depression, a contest against communism, a race for space, and the emergence of ultra-lucrative athletic contracts.

In The Beginning

Baseball developed in the United States sometime before the Civil War. Originally a form of cricket, it would evolve into a game with the limitations of nine innings (as opposed to cricket, which only ends when a team chooses and can theoretically go on forever), four bases, and position players as well as pitchers. By the late 1800s, most baseball players were amateurs, not professionals: they played for university or union teams, not city franchises. Only at the turn of the century did clubs as well as national teams develop, spreading the game into new parts of the US and the world. In 1903, the very first World Series was contested between the Boston Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates (Boston won).

Popularity In The 20th Century

In an era before football became famous and when few Americans cared about basketball or hockey, baseball was king. Not until the 1919 Black Sox Scandal did the integrity of the sport take a hit: members of the Chicago White Sox team were found to have intentionally thrown the World Series title for money. Each player was banned for life and the office of commissioner was appointed to ensure fairness, but the sport still suffered losses in popularity.

Dynasties And Dynamos

During the interwar era and into the 1960s, no team in pro sports had more success than the New York Yankees, who won twenty championships in forty-five years, including a stretch of fifteen appearances in eighteen years and four consecutive titles followed later by five consecutive titles. They were often matched, in fact, against their New York counterparts the Brooklyn Dodgers, until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Pennant Races And Playoff Additions

The playoff series as we know them today originated in 1969, when the champion of a league earned a pennant for their success along with a berth in the World Series. MLB began having night games in 1971; the 1987 Major League Baseball series would have the last day game. In 1976, the first American League designated hitter was used, causing a minor firestorm about which rule to use. Finally, the rule changed to allow AL parks to use a DH but NL parks to discourage it. In 2003, it was determined that the All-Star Game would determine the home-field advantage in the World Series.

Strikes And Money

The 1995 MLB players strike proved to be a huge roadblock to popularity. 1994 marked the first time in 90 years the World Series was not played, and 1995 threatened to bring in replacement players until the labor dispute was settled. The end result, however, was a major loss in popularity for the sport. Nevertheless, MLB responded with higher player salaries than ever.

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