As the League Divisional Series’ wrapped up this week, we saw the continuation of the Cleveland Indians’ World Championship drought advance to an agonizing 69 years. With the 108 year dry spell of the Chicago Cubs ending last year, much has been publicized of the plight of the Indians.
At closer look, there is a new generation of dry spells in Major League Baseball. The Expansion Era of baseball began in 1961 when the American League expanded to Washington and Southern California. The clubs that began play that year were the current day Angels and Texas Rangers (who moved from our Nation’s Capitol following the 1971 season). In 1962, the National League expanded to New York (Mets) and Houston (current day Astros). 1969 saw both leagues expand when the Seattle Pilots and Kansas City Royals joined the American League. The San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos also joined the National League. The Pilots would move to Milwaukee the following spring and become the current day Milwaukee Brewers. The Expos franchise relocated to Washington in 2005 and became the current day Washington Nationals.
The expansion era continued in 1977 when the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays joined the AL. In 1993 it was the NL’s turn to welcome the Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins) and Colorado Rockies. The expansion era ended in 1998 when the Arizona Diamondbacks joined the National League and the Tampa Bay Rays franchise joined the American League.
The 2005 Houston Astros celebrate after winning the National League Championship.
Now that I gave everybody a baseball history lesson I’ll get to the point.
I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Houston Astros are competing for the American League championship. After 50 years in the National League, including a National League championship in 2005, the Astros moved to the American League in 2013. That trip to the Fall Classic in 2005 was the franchise’s only appearance. They would be swept by another drought-beater, the Chicago White Sox. That World Championship was the Pale Hose’s first title since 1917, they haven’t been back to the Fall Classic since.
Getting back to the Astros, their drought is now going on 55 years without a World Series title. Can the Astros be the drought-enders this year?
The Washington Nationals were eliminated from playoff contention by the Chicago Cubs in 5 games. The Expos/Nationals franchise has never appeared in the World Series.
With so much being made of the Indians early exit, there was another team that is almost under the radar. When the Washington Nationals lost the National League Division Series to the Cubs, that made 48 consecutive years without an appearance in the World Series. The closest this franchise has come to a Fall Classic berth was a dramatic five-game loss to the Dodgers in the then best-of-five NLCS in 1981.
The Seattle Mariners won an MLB record 116 games in 2001. The Mariners have yet to appear in the World Series.
There is another franchise that has not seen the Fall Classic. The Seattle Mariners drought began with their inception in 1977. That’s forty years and counting in the Pacific Northwest without a trip to the World Series.
Looking at the rest of the expansion classes that I mentioned in the opening, the Rangers, Astros, Padres, Brewers, Rockies and Rays have all made Series appearances and have lost. The Rangers (2010 & 2011) and Padres (1984 & 1998) are the only two of these franchises to appear more than once. The Brewers won the 1982 American League title, they have been members of the National League since 1998.
Will the drought of the Houston Astros, the team that switched leagues after half a century, come to an end this year? Will a metropolitan area that was ravaged by a hurricane in August finally see the top of the baseball heap this fall? To be continued!