How Does The Baseball World Series Work?
The World Series is a best-of-seven playoff clash that determines the winner of the Major League Baseball (MLB) championship at the end of each season.
The MLB is divided into two leagues – the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). The World Series pits the winners of each league against one another to decide the overall champion.
When did the World Series begin?
The first World Series took place in 1903. It marked the end of a bitter feud between the organizers of the AL and NL, who had previously battled for supremacy. The AL champion, Boston Americans (later known as the Red Sox), pulled off a surprise victory over NL champion Pittsburgh Pirates that year.
The World Series did not take place the following year, but it resumed in 1905, when the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Athletics. It has been held on an annual basis ever since – apart from 1994, when there was a players’ strike – with the AL champion winning 66 World Series and the NL champion winning 50.
What is the format?
Each league is divided into three divisions – the NL West, NL Central, NL East, AL West, AL Central, and AL East. The winner of each division qualifies automatically for the postseason. The two remaining teams with the best record in each league go into Wild Card games, with a place in the postseason up for grabs.
After the Wild Card games, we are left with just four teams from each league. At that point, it is a knockout competition. The League Division Series whittles it down to two teams from each league, and they in the League Championship Series to decide the AL champion and the NL champion.
The champions of the two leagues then contest the World Series. It is a best-of-seven clash, so a team is successful if it wins four games. The winner is presented with the Commissioner’s Trophy.
The World Series games are held at the home stadiums of the teams competing for glory. Home field advantage alternates on a game-by-game basis.
The team with the superior regular season record plays four home games if the World Series goes right down to the wire.
In 2020, a neutral venue – Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas – hosted the World Series due to the pandemic, but it then reverted to the usual format thereafter.
Why is it called the World Series?
The World Series is only available to North American teams – 29 from the United States, plus the Toronto Blue Jays, who compete in the AL. Nobody can say for sure why it is called the World Series.
Some have claimed it was because a newspaper called the New York World initially sponsored the series, but that was debunked by researched at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
In fairness, all the best players in the world ply their trade in North America, and the best MLB team would probably beat the champions of Japan, Korea, Mexico and South America with ease.
When does the World Series take place?
The World Series is played in the fall each year. For that reason, it is regularly referred to as the Fall Classic. It typically takes place towards the end of October.
Which teams are the most successful in World Series history?
The New York Yankees are the most successful team in World Series history. They have reached the World Series 40 times and secured 27 wins – most recently in 2009. That leaves them with a win percentage of .675.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the second most successful team of all time, with 11 wins and eight losses, followed by the Athletics and the Red Sox, while the Dodgers have been the most successful team in recent years.