Ending the World Series drought
Will the White Sox or Astros fill their long title void?
There was a time during that Yankees run from 1998-2000 when the subject of World Series droughts was the last thing on people's minds. Now, this is becoming the decade of the drought-busters in Major League Baseball.
The Diamondbacks (2001) and Angels (2002) subsequently won their first World Series championships, and after a second title in 2003 by the Marlins, along came the Red Sox to reverse the Curse of the Bambino for their first title in 86 years.
Which brings everyone to 2005 and a lot more of the same.
The city of Chicago owns the distinction of the two longest such droughts. The Cubs have not won it all since 1908 -- 97 years without the ultimate victory parade. The White Sox have gone 88 years since that last championship in 1917, and now they finally are in position, at least, to do something about their half of that equation.
Meanwhile, the Houston Astros, who entered the Majors in 1962 as the Colt .45s, are getting ready for their first World Series. Unable to rebound from a 3-1 National League Championship Series deficit, the Cardinals have extended the longest title drought -- now 24 years -- in their rich history of World Series championships.
The Astros' Game 6 victory placed constant attention on this issue, sparking a spectacular release of pent-up emotion in Houston, following on the heels of that Rolling Rally that drew millions to celebrate in Red Sox Nation last October.
What are the longest World Series title droughts in history? Here are the franchises, including those who moved from other cities, that have gone at least 30 years without one. An asterisk represents those droughts still active:
Cubs, *97 years (1908); White Sox, *88 (1917); Red Sox, 86 (1918-2004); Phillies, 77 (1903-80); Orioles, 63 (1903-66); Twins, 63 (1924-87); Indians, *57 (1948); Dodgers, 52 (1903-55); Giants, *51 (1954); Rangers, *44 (1961); Astros, *43 (1962); Athletics, 42 (1930-72); Angels, 41 (1961-2002); Brewers, *36 (1969); Nationals, *36 (1969); Padres, *36 (1969); Pirates, 35 (1925-60); Reds, 35 (1940-75); and Tigers, 32 (1903-35).
All fan bases should be as lucky as those who followed the Boston Braves (nee 1912, first title in 1914), Milwaukee Braves (welcomed team in 1953 and won it all in '57) and Florida (nee 1993, first title in 1997). White Sox fans can appreciate this list and what a title would mean. So could the Astros.
When the White Sox meet the Astros in the World Series, it will be a matchup of two of the three teams that have gone the longest without even reaching the Fall Classic. The White Sox last went to the big show in 1959, when they lost to the Dodgers in six. The Rangers have the second-longest such drought as a franchise at 44 years; they were the Washington Senators from 1961-71 and have been in Texas since then.
Major League Baseball first expanded into Texas for the 1962 season with the Houston Colt .45s, and they became the Astros in 1965 when they began playing in the Astrodome.
Cleveland won its last World Series in 1948, and made it back to the Fall Classic in 1995 (losing to Atlanta) and '97 (losing to Florida). The Indians were huge favorites to win again in 1954, but they were stunned by the Giants, who could not have known that they would still be in the market for that next World Series title today. The Giants have yet to win the title since moving to San Francisco after the 1957 season, and have fallen short in three World Series since then: 1962 (to the Yankees), 1989 (to the A's) and 2002 (to the Angels).
Four teams entered MLB in the 1969 expansion: Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres and Seattle Pilots. The Royals won the 1985 World Series against St. Louis. The other three members of that expansion class are still waiting. The Expos never went to the World Series as Canadians, and this was their first season as the Washington Nationals. The Padres reached the World Series in 1984 (losing to Detroit) and 1998 (losing to the Yankees). The Pilots moved to Milwaukee after just one year to become the Brewers, and they have reached the Fall Classic once, losing to St. Louis in 1982.
That was the last time the Cardinals won it all, and it is starting to feel like a long drought -- which now feels even longer after Houston's Game 6 victory. Next season, the Cardinals will be playing amidst their longest title drought in club history. But somehow, it pales in comparison to what White Sox fans -- and maybe Astros fans -- are feeling right now. The drought-busters are out in full force these days.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.