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Five Baseball Teams That Fell Short of World Series Glory

October 28, 2014


Some baseball fans want their teams to have the league’s best record. Other baseball fans want their team to have the league’s best record and win the championship. These are the fans who are most likely to be coaxed off a ledge when their team ends the season shy of expectations. In other words, winning every accolade — battling titles, Cy Young awards, top numbers in home runs and RBI — yet still failing to win it all in October.  Or, November.

1973 Cincinnati Reds. At 99-63, the Big Red Machine boasted the best record in baseball, and went into the playoffs against the New York Mets as the favorite to return to the World Series. Cincinnati’s Pete Rose took the batting championship and won the National League MVP award. He also produced the highlight of the series against the Mets with a brawl-inducing slide into New York’s Bud Harrelson. The Mets went on to win the series in 6 games.

1977 Kansas City Royals. The Royals topped the century-wins mark with 102 victories, then ran into the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. They had endured the madcap, violent ending to the previous season’s ALCS in Yankee Stadium with Chris Chambliss’ walk-off-through-the-field-invasion home run. The 1977 encore also went down the final at-bat. This time, a double play ball put KC out of its misery and left Royals fans heartbroken.

1985 St. Louis Cardinals. A regular season finish of 101-61 sent the Cards into the playoffs behind stellar rookie Vince Coleman. Coleman grabbed Rookie of the Year honors and seized more stolen bases than anyone in the majors. But it would be the cross-state Kansas City Royals who would steal the stage in the World Series, thanks to a stunning Cardinals collapse aided by umpire Don Denkinger’s controversial call.

1980 New York Yankees. The Yanks late-1970s dynasty finally ran out of steam after a 103-59 regular season. Fittingly, the arch-rival KC Royals delivered the coup de grace with a 3-game ALCS sweep. The Yankees would not appear in the World Series again for 16 years.

1979 Baltimore Orioles. Delusional Baltimore fans actually thought the Orioles and their gaudy 102-57 record would top the feel-good championship story of the decade. Willie “Pops” Stargell and the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Orioles in a World Series that went the 7-game distance. Ironically, the same two teams opened the decade with a 7-game showdown in 1971, and the Pirates won that one, too.


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