Back when we were bantering last week about which National League team we were rooting for in this year's playoffs, I liked the Philadelphia Phillies for Roy Halladay's first shot at a World Series, the Atlanta Braves for Bobby Cox's last and the Cincinnati Reds for being a small-market, underdog-type team. But I couldn't think of any story that resonated with me for the San Francisco Giants.
Today however as I caught the tail end of the Giants beating the Braves to advance to the National League Championship Series, I was reminded by the broadcasters that the Giants haven't won a World Series in more than half a century. Checking Wikipedia's list of longest World Series droughts, the team last one as the New York Giants in 1954 and has never won it since moving to San Francisco.
When it comes to World Series droughts, the Chicago Cubs of course stand in a class by themselves with a 102-year drought going back their last win in 1908. But at 55 years, the Giants have put in some hard time, which gives them the third-longest drought after the Cleveland Indians and their 62-year stretch since winning in 1948.
Interestingly the team with the fourth-longest World Series drought is also in the playoffs this year - though they have to win their next game if they're to advance to the American League Championship Series. The Texas Rangers have never brought the World Series championship home to Dallas-Forth Worth, and as a franchise have never won in the 49 years since they started as the third incarnation of the Washington Senators.
Wouldn't it be something if the teams with the third- and fourth-longest World Series droughts in history faced off in the World Series with one team guaranteed to end their long stretch of championship futility? As a Jays fan I'm all for Doc getting his first championship that we couldn't get him in Toronto (and so I can stop cheering for the Phillies!), but have to say the history buff in me would really enjoy a Giants-Rangers World Series storyline.
Of course, this could all be toast tomorrow if the Rangers lose the deciding game of their division series. But interestingly there'd still be a story here in play on the American League side with the Tampa Bay Rays. Of the current MLB cities to have never had a World Series winner*, three of the seven are still in the hunt this year: San Francisco, Dallas Fort Worth and Tampa (the other four being Houston, San Diego, Seattle and Denver - Washington tasted victory with an incarnation of the Senators in 1924 and Milwaukee with the Braves in 1957).
(* This is not to be confused with "franchises" to have never won a World Series - of these there are eight currently, with the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay still having a chance in this year's playoffs.)
So from this perspective, as long as the New York Yankees don't advance to the World Series, I'll be very happy on the American League side with either the Rangers or Rays. And if the Giants make it through on the other side, then some history will be written with this year's World Series. Though of course it could easily end up being a Phillies-Yankees World Series repeat of last year and this whole topic will go out the window.
Actually of the teams to already get eliminated from this year's playoffs, they were each working on some Toronto Blue Jays-like World Series championship droughts of their own: at 14 years for the Atlanta Braves (1995), 18 years for the Minnesota Twins (1991) and 19 years for the Cincinnati Reds (1990) - compared to the 16 years for the Jays (1993).
Though it hurts for their fans as it does for us, we should nevertheless still be grateful, considering that the MLB "franchises" with the fourth- to ninth-longest droughts at 49 to 33 years - Texas Rangers (Washington), Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers (Seattle), San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals (Montreal) and Seattle Mariners - have never even one a single World Series. And the Jays have two, so it could be worse.