Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ian Controls the Universe, Part 2

Some of you might remember a little post I did two months ago that allowed me to manipulate on-field results, namely by dictating the next ten World Series. It was a fun exercise, but you know...it just wasn't enough. Once you've tasted omnipotence, your hunger for more becomes insatiable.

I got to thinking...what if instead of just dictating the future I could dictate the past as well? What if I could go back in time and allow some teams to win the World Series that never did (and likewise prevent some teams from winning it)? After all, plenty of great players and teams never tasted the ultimate championship, and it's a darn shame. What if somehow I, and I alone, had the power to give it to them? What kind of guy would I be if I didn't at least consider it?

The only thing that gives me hesitation is the fact that there are many World Series champions that it's hard for me to picture not having won it, since almost every champion had at least one notable player who never won a championship anywhere else. If those teams hadn't won it in the first place, hey, that's that, but since they did, I'm in a position where I'm forced to take it away from them. By the time I'm done, perhaps a few all-time greats will have lost their only rings. As I fight back the tears though, I shall find the strength to act in the interests of the greater good!

Lest you think otherwise, I'll try to be somewhat fair. I'm not a fan of dynasties, but if a team was legitimately great for a significant period of time, I'll let 'em keep a few of those titles. For teams that have plenty of titles to spare though (I'm looking at you, New York Yankees), I think we can safely take a few of them away without hurting anybody.

Now that I've suddenly been granted this power (in my fictitious blog post world), here's how the new history of the World Series looks:

1903 Boston Americans over Pittsburg Pirates
1905 New York Giants over Philadelphia Athletics
1906 Chicago White Sox over Chicago Cubs
1907 Chicago Cubs over Detroit Tigers
1908 Chicago Cubs over Detroit Tigers
1909 Pittsburg Pirates over Detroit Tigers
1910 Philadelphia Athletics over Chicago Cubs
1911 Philadelphia Athletics over New York Giants
1912 Boston Red Sox over New York Giants

As you can see, I haven't changed a thing so far. I've got no real beef with any of these results, as they allowed some worthy teams to win championships, and some good storylines got to play out. The changes though, they're a-comin'!

1913 New York Giants over Philadelphia Athletics

The Philly A's didn't really need this one, and the 1911-13 Giants were worthy of at least one World Series championship.

1914 Boston Braves over Philadelphia Athletics

One of my favorite underdog stories. The Miracle Braves never had to sweat for a second.

1915 Detroit Tigers over Philadelphia Phillies
1916 Philadelphia Phillies over Boston Red Sox

In real life, the Tigers of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford and Hughie Jennings are a sad omission from the list of World Series champs. The 1915 Bengals won more games than any other Detroit team from that era. The mid-1910's Phillies were an interesting yet relatively forgotten group. Both of them now get to taste the champagne.

1917 Chicago White Sox over New York Giants
1918 Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs
1919 Cincinnati Reds over Chicago White Sox
1920 Cleveland Indians over Brooklyn Robins
1921 New York Giants over New York Yankees

Another stretch of results I'm fine with.

1922 St. Louis Browns over St. Louis Cardinals

While the Browns are still mostly remembered today for their lack of success, they now have one flag that flies forever. Not only was the 1922 club probably the best St. Louis Browns team, it was arguably better than the Yankee team that beat it out for the pennant. Such an injustice no longer exists.

As you can also see, the famous all-St. Louis World Series happened 22 years earlier than in real life, this time without war-depleted rosters. The actual '22 Cardinals, led by a monster year from Rogers Hornsby, stayed in the race most of the season before fading in August. This time they held on long enough to reach the October promised land.

1923 New York Yankees over New York Giants
1924 Washington Senators over New York Giants
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates over Washington Senators
1926 St. Louis Cardinals over New York Yankees
1927 New York Yankees over Pittsburgh Pirates
1928 New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals
1929 Philadelphia Athletics over Chicago Cubs
1930 Philadelphia Athletics over St. Louis Cardinals
1931 St. Louis Cardinals over Philadelphia Athletics
1932 New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
1933 New York Giants over Washington Senators
1934 St. Louis Cardinals over Detroit Tigers
1935 Detroit Tigers over Chicago Cubs

At this point you're probably saying "Come on, man! You've hardly changed anything! Is there really a point to me reading this?", to which I must reply: "You have a legit gripe, but there's method to my lack of madness." I'm fair enough to concede that most of these teams deserved to win it, but even more importantly, certain teams wouldn't be so much fun to hate if they didn't have so many championships. Folks, I'm just a-settin' 'em up to bring 'em down later! You know that Yankee dynasty that's at hand? Check out what happened instead!

1936 Chicago Cubs over New York Yankees

The Cubs got revenge for 1932, and the fine Cubbie club of Hack, Herman, Hartnett, Cavarretta, Root and Warneke got a championship.

1937 Chicago White Sox over New York Giants

The not-great-but-more-interesting-than-they-often-get-credit-for Pale Hose club of Appling, Lyons and Dykes got a championship.

1938 Pittsburgh Pirates over New York Yankees

The "Homer in the Gloamin'" never happened, and the fine Buccaneer club of Vaughan and the Waner brothers got a championship.

1939 New York Yankees over Cincinnati Reds
1940 Cincinnati Reds over Detroit Tigers

That '39 Yankee team's legacy was too great to be erased, and those Reds were a charming little club too.

1941 Brooklyn Dodgers over New York Yankees

In real life '55 was a massive relief, but I figured there was no reason Brooklyn's first title couldn't have happened sooner. With significantly different personnel than in the "Boys of Summer" era, the '41 Dodgers can be thought of as a unique group.

1942 St. Louis Cardinals over Boston Red Sox

Too many Yankee World Series losses makes them somewhat pitiable. There shall be none of that in my narrative! The Ted Williams Red Sox won their first pennant this year, only to lose to an outstanding Cardinal team.

1943 New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals

Like I've been saying, the Yankees need to keep some of their titles to remain legitimately hatable. This result stands.

1944 Detroit Tigers over Pittsburgh Pirates

The '45 team got its ring a year earlier, led by twin aces Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout. The Browns don't feel gypped, as their title in '22 is much more meaningful than one won by a bunch of wartime scrubs would've been. The Tigers also got to avenge their World Series loss in 1909, for good measure.

The '44 Pirates were a distant second in real life, but they had some better luck this time, and Rip Sewell's "Eephus" pitch received a showcase in the Fall Classic.

1945 Washington Senators over Chicago Cubs

Few realize how close Washington came to getting a title during the wartime years. I decided to let them have it.

1946 Boston Red Sox over St. Louis Cardinals

Ted Williams' greatest club is way more interesting than another boring old St. Louis championship.

1947 Boston Braves over New York Yankees

There was no way I was going to deny the '48 Indians their title, but I've always liked the Billy Southworth-era Braves, and if they couldn't have '48, '47 wasn't a bad consolation prize. MVP Bob Elliott truly had a season for the ages.

1948 Cleveland Indians over Boston Braves
1949 New York Yankees over Brooklyn Dodgers

Like I said above, the '48 Indians were too great a story to deny them their title. The '49 Yankees had a good enough story (overcoming injuries and such) that I let them keep their championship.

1950 Philadelphia Phillies over Detroit Tigers

The "Whiz Kids" got the ring, and the Red Rolfe Tigers who came so close to toppling the Yankees got to play in the World Series.

1951 New York Giants over New York Yankees

After "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" you'd better believe those Giants completed their destiny.

1952 New York Yankees over Brooklyn Dodgers

You know my reasoning. Let's move on...

1953 Brooklyn Dodgers over New York Yankees

The '53 team was better than the '55 team, and it included notables such as Billy Cox and Preacher Roe, who missed out two years later in real life.

1954 Cleveland Indians over New York Giants

The Giants got theirs in '51, so the 111-win Indians are now remembered as one of the all-time great championship teams.

1955 Chicago White Sox over Brooklyn Dodgers

After getting '53 the Dodgers didn't need '55. The Go-Go White Sox deserved a ring, and '55 allowed them to get it with Minnie Minoso and Chico Carrasquel included.

1956 Cincinnati Redlegs over Cleveland Indians

The Redlegs tied the 1947 Giants' team homer record and their roster included several classic Cincy players like Kluszewski, Bailey, McMillan, Temple, Post, Bell, Lawrence and Nuxhall. There was also a prized rookie named Frank Robinson who contributed 38 homers to the team total, and they were managed by one of my personal favorite semi-obscure baseball lifers, Birdie Tebbetts. Such an interesting bunch sure looks nice among history's champions.

I threw the Indians another pennant too, resulting in the first all-Ohio World Series.

1957 Milwaukee Braves over New York Yankees
1958 New York Yankees over Milwaukee Braves

The '57 Braves are one of my all-time favorite champions, and they get to remain as such. The '58 Yankees? Well, like I've been saying...

1959 Chicago White Sox over Milwaukee Braves

Confession time: I have a rooting interest the White Sox, although really, I'm a fan of the game first and my teams second. Was I too generous by giving the Go-Go Sox a second title in five years?

Sorry, but I couldn't not give 'em this one. I've always loved the '59 team, and unlike the '55 team, this one included Hall of Famers Wynn and Aparicio (borderline selections, I know, and champions with other clubs in this alternate world, I know, but Hall of Famers nonetheless), and truly-legit Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez. Baseball deserves to have them win the ring in '59.

Oh, and I thought it'd be nice to have an All-Northern-Midwest Series too. The Aaron-Mathews-Spahn Braves are now even more dynastic than in real life.

1960 Pittsburgh Pirates over New York Yankees

A storybook title that only a hard-hearted tyrant would've erased from history.

1961 New York Yankees over Cincinnati Reds

Like I've been saying...

1962 San Francisco Giants over New York Yankees

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, "Why couldn't McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?" Whaddaya know? In this universe he did!

1963 Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Yankees
1964 St. Louis Cardinals over Baltimore Orioles

I didn't begrudge the '63 Dodgers and the '64 Cards their titles. I decided to throw in the first Baltimore Orioles pennant just for the fun of it though. The Battle of the Birds made a good gimmick for the media.

1965 Minnesota Twins over Los Angeles Dodgers

Those Twins are one of my favorite World Series losers.

1966 Baltimore Orioles over Pittsburgh Pirates

I'm fine with the real-life winner, but there were too dang many of those Dodger pennants floating around. The '66 Pirates were a fine squad, so now the World Series history between these two franchises starts five years earlier.

1967 Boston Red Sox over San Francisco Giants

"The Impossible Dream" is completed! However, since I didn't want anyone to feel too sorry for the Cardinals, someone else had to get the privilege of losing the World Series. Lo and behold, the Mays-McCovey-Marichal Giants have now bagged their second pennant!

1968 Detroit Tigers over St. Louis Cardinals

The '68 Tigers have another one of those stories that was just too perfect to erase from history.

1969 Chicago Cubs over Baltimore Orioles

I'm sure Met fans are cursing me right now, but hey, this is my world. The Banks-Jenkins-Santo-Williams Cubs deserved a ring, and now they've got it.

1970 Baltimore Orioles over Cincinnati Reds
1971 Pittsburgh Pirates over Baltimore Orioles

I was cool with these, especially with the Pirates avenging '66.

1972 Chicago White Sox over Cincinnati Reds

I'm sure I've set myself up for some serious accusations of White Sox bias. Dick Allen seriously needed a ring though. There was also the whole 1919 rematch angle. What can I say? It works.

1973 New York Mets over Oakland A's

All the Met fans who cursed me for taking away '69 can take solace in the fact that the "You Gotta Believe" team won it instead of the "Miracle" team. Tom Seaver won't end his career without a championship he deserves, and other Met favorites like Matlack and Staub got to be included. I suppose it might seem heartless of me to take away Nolan Ryan's only ring, but fear not. He'll get his eventually...

1974 Oakland A's over Los Angeles Dodgers

And finally Charlie O.'s Swingin' A's have their ring.

1975 Cincinnati Reds over Boston Red Sox

And finally the Big Red Machine has its ring.

1976 New York Yankees over Philadelphia Phillies

Whoa, whoa, WHOA. Hold the phone. Did I actually give the Yankees a title they didn't win in real life? You bet I did. Why? Well, personally speaking, I've never been a big fan of the "Bronx Zoo" Yankees, but I'll give 'em credit for being a fine ballclub. While Reggie Jackson is the most well-remembered player from that era, some people don't realize that they were already a pennant-winner before he and his massive ego joined them. In a way, that '76 team is the most interesting of the Bronx Zoo period. Yes, it was built by financial power to a large degree, but it was before George Steinbrenner went off the deep end with his spending. I figured the '76 club could have the title and future editions could drown in their self-importance.

Oh yeah...since the Big Red Machine got its title, I let the Paul Owens Phillies add another pennant to their collection.

1977 Los Angeles Dodgers over Kansas City Royals

When the real-life Dodgers won it in '81, it was a redemption for all the times they'd come up short. They don't need redeeming though, now that they've gotten their title in '77. In this case, Dodger icon Don Sutton and famous surgery namesake Tommy John got to join in the fun.

Also, the Whitey Herzog Royals now have a World Series appearance to their name.

1978 Milwaukee Brewers over Los Angeles Dodgers

'82 was great, but Molitor, Yount, Cooper, Oglivie, Thomas and Gantner (no, he wasn't much of a slugger, but he was a longtime Brewer favorite) were all part of the team in '78 too. "Bambi's Bombers" surprised a lot of people by emerging as contenders that year, and here they rode the magic all the way to the end of October.

1979 Pittsburgh Pirates over Baltimore Orioles
1980 Philadelphia Phillies over Kansas City Royals

Come on, man, the "We Are Family" Pirates were just too cool to take away. 1980 worked out well for the Paul Owens Phillies to win their lone World Series too. I decided to let these be.

1981 Montreal Expos over Oakland A's

No longer is my heart broken because the Expos had such a good organization for so many years and never got so much as a pennant to show for it. The '81 team came the closest in real life, and also featured the strongest mix of Montreal's most famous players (Dawson, Raines, Carter, Rogers, Wallach). They were the best choice to represent Montreal in the title department.

Billy Martin may have overworked his young pitchers on the A's for a brief flash of success, but hey, at least it paid off with a pennant!

1982 St. Louis Cardinals over Milwaukee Brewers
1983 Baltimore Orioles over Philadelphia Phillies
1984 Detroit Tigers over San Diego Padres
1985 Kansas City Royals over St. Louis Cardinals
1986 New York Mets over Boston Red Sox

All good stories, all worthy champions. I left them alone.

1987 San Francisco Giants over Minnesota Twins

Giant fans have always seemed particularly fond of the Roger Craig era. While the real-life '87 Twins gave some good players their only rings (Frank Viola, Gary Gaetti, perhaps Don Baylor, though he might have gotten one with the '70 Orioles, Jeff Reardon, though in this world he got one with the '81 Expos), they still were one of the weakest champions ever, and besides that, several of the same core players (Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Greg Gagne) were part of the much-better '91 squad. Sorry, Metrodome denizens. San Fran gets this title and you get yours in four years.

1988 Los Angeles Dodgers over Oakland Athletics

Speaking of weak championship teams, I let the Dodgers keep this one. Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser made them worthy of their place in history.

1989 Oakland Athletics over Chicago Cubs

LaRussa's Athletics now have theirs. The Cubs got a piece of the World Series action instead of the less-hungry Giants, however, and the Loma Prieta earthquake is now of lesser consequence to baseball, since the Series was in Chicago when it hit. Perhaps if the Series had returned to Oakland there might have been some issues.

1990 Cincinnati Reds over Oakland Athletics
1991 Minnesota Twins over Atlanta Braves

I was perfectly happy with both results. I didn't change them.

1992 Toronto Blue Jays over Pittsburgh Pirates

It goes without saying that I was only going to let one of the two Toronto teams keep its title. I decided the '92 team had more unique quintessential Blue Jays (Jimmy Key, Kelly Gruber, Tom Henke, Manuel Lee, Dave Stieb, Rance Mulliniks), so I went with them (sorry, Tony Fernandez!). As for their opponent, I let the Barry Bonds Pirates get at least one pennant, and I prevented them from being saddled with the memory of Francisco Cabrera ('cause no one deserves that).

1993 Philadelphia Phillies over Chicago White Sox

This year was the toughest choice for me. The Blue Jays got theirs in '92, so they didn't need this one. I had the Braves winning in '95 so that Chipper Jones could be a contributor. The Expos were a contender in '93 and might've been a cool winner, but they really didn't look like a championship-caliber club. If I'd let the White Sox win another World Series I probably would've gotten complaints about homerism (maybe I'm being too self-conscious about that). The Giants winning would've allowed Barry Bonds to get a ring, but after '87 I felt they could live without it.

That left us with the Phillies, the "Animal House" cast of rough-hewn characters. Since I allowed the Gashouse Gang to win it, I could allow them to win it too. As a Sox fan I would've loved to see them win the whole shebang, but in the interest of fairness, I only let them have the AL pennant.

1995 Atlanta Braves over Cleveland Indians
1996 New York Yankees over Atlanta Braves

It's all good.

1997 Florida Marlins over Baltimore Orioles

The '97 Marlins had many veterans that I was happy to see get rings. It was a shame that in real life they had to get them at the expense of the Indians though, so now they victimized the Orioles instead.

1998 San Diego Padres over New York Yankees

The scrappers from San Diego pulled off a massive upset, they did.

1999 Cleveland Indians over Atlanta Braves

The Mike Hargrove Indians finally got their title, as well as revenge for 1995.

2000 Seattle Mariners over New York Mets

The 2001 World Series was a classic, so I wasn't going to mess with it. That left me with the dilemma of the 116-win 2001 Mariners though. My solution: Give Seattle the 2000 title to take comfort in when they fall short the next year.

So how do you like that? After trading away franchise icon Ken Griffey Jr. these guys finally won the whole thing. Who would've thought?

2001 Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees
2002 Anaheim Angels over San Francisco Giants

Both champions still feel like teams of destiny.

2003 Chicago Cubs over New York Yankees

The Prior/Wood Cubs capitalized during their tragically brief window of opportunity, and those abominable Marlins are all but forgotten today.

2004 Boston Red Sox over St. Louis Cardinals
2005 Chicago White Sox over Houston Astros

Two more stories I couldn't imagine not having as part of baseball history.

2006 Detroit Tigers over New York Mets

The Cardinals? Yeah, I remember them. They won 83 games this year. Why do you ask?

2007 Colorado Rockies over Boston Red Sox
2008 Tampa Bay Rays over Philadelphia Phillies

They were teams of destiny, I tell you!

2009 Philadelphia Phillies over Minnesota Twins

It was a shame to take away the '08 Phillies' title, but no worries, they got '09. MVP Joe Mauer finally helped the Twins beat the Yankees in the Division Series, and he carried them all the way to the World Series.

2010 San Francisco Giants over Texas Rangers

I know I've been pretty generous to the Giants, but what the heck. The 2010 team was worthy.

2011 Texas Rangers over Milwaukee Brewers

The Rangers got the title they deserved last year, Nolan Ryan got his ring, and the Brewers were rewarded with a pennant for going all in. Since the Brew Crew won it in '78, it didn't hurt as much to lose the World Series as it would've if they'd never won it before. Optimal result? You bet it is.

As I said last time, I realize that my scenarios are absurdly unrealistic, but hey, a mere mortal like me isn't inclined to use omnipotence to maintain predictability. If I had my way, the Rangers would be entering this season trying to be the first team since the 1929-30 Athletics to repeat. Is that ridiculous or what?

So how does the distribution of pennants and championships look now?

Franchise      WS   PEN

Yankees        12    27
Giants          8    17
White Sox       7     9
Athletics       6    14
Cardinals       6    14
Tigers          6    12
Pirates         6    11
Red Sox         6    11
Cubs            5    13
Dodgers         5    12
Phillies        5     9
Reds            5     9
Braves          4    10
Orioles         4     9
Twins           4     8
Indians         4     6
Mets            2     4
Brewers         1     3
Royals          1     3
Padres          1     2
Rangers         1     2
Angels          1     1
Blue Jays       1     1
Diamondbacks    1     1
Mariners        1     1
Marlins         1     1
Nationals       1     1
Rays            1     1
Rockies         1     1
Astros          0     1

Poor Astros. They're the only ones I couldn't find a title for, but hey, 29 out of 30 ain't bad. At least the Astros give us an underdog team we can all pull for. Overall, I'm pleased with these results. The Yankees are still hatable without being wearyingly loathsome, and the teams with the richest histories still manage to find themselves at the top. If there's any significant stratification, it divides the expansion teams from the "Original 16," which is hardly objectionable.

If only my fantasy were reality. Why don't the people in charge of the universe hire me?