OCTOBER 21, 2003
2003 Post-season Ponderosa
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

The New York Yankees hosted the first two games of the 2003 World Series.  The Florida Marlins won Game 1 by the score of 3 to 2; and, the Yankees won Game 2 by the score of 6 to 1.

When was the last time that the American League hosted the first two games of a World Series – and where the National League team won Game 1 and the American League team won Game 2?

You do not have to look too far back for this one – as it was last year.  In the 2002 World Series, the Anaheim Angels hosted the first two games.  The San Francisco Giants won Game 1 by the score of 4 to 3; and, the Angels won Game 2 by the score of 11 to 10.

Two years in a row where the American League hosted Games 1 & 2 and where the National League won Game 1 and the American League won Game 2.  Probably happens often, no?

Actually, not really – this sequence of events is somewhat rare.  Examining the 51 World Series held prior to this year’s games, yields that this pattern has transpired a total of four times (prior to 2003).  Quick math tells us that is an occurrence rate of 8% over slightly more than the last half-century.  The years that have mirrored the 2003 results are 2002, 1983, 1967, and 1951.

In 2002, the Anaheim Angels eventually beat the San Francisco Giants in seven games.  In 1983, the Baltimore Orioles were champions over the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.  In 1967, the St. Louis Cardinals won the series over the Boston Red Sox in seven games.  In 1951, the New York Yankees defeated the New York Giants in six games.

The summary:  One five game series, one six game series, and two seven game series.  And, the American League won three of the four. 

How about the match-ups each year? 

In 1951, both the Giants and Yankees won 98 games during the season.  “The Giants won the pennant” (narrowly) via one of the most famous homeruns in baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.”  The Yankees won their league by 5 games. 

In 1967, the Cardinals ran away with the pennant – winning 101 games and finishing in first by 10 ½ games.  That year, the Red Sox won the pennant by one game, just beating the Twins, Tigers and White Sox in what most consider the best four-team race in major-league history. 

In 1983, the Orioles won 98 games and finished first by 6 games.  They breezed by the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS, three games to one.  The 1983 Phillies also won their division by 6 games and won the NLCS, in four games (beating the Los Angeles Dodgers). 

In 2002, both the Angels and the Giants made the World Series as Wildcard entries.  Anaheim had little trouble in the post-season and San Francisco rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the NLDS to defeat the Atlanta Braves and then defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS in 5 games.

Is there anything here that can be applied to the current World Series teams?

One could compare the 2003 Florida Marlins to the 1951 New York Giants and 1967 Boston Red Sox in that they advanced to the World Series by virtue of some heroics (as opposed to steamrolling their league).  The Marlins could also be compared to the 2002 San Francisco Giants as they were both Wildcard teams to make the World Series and they came back in the post-season to win series.

The 2003 New York Yankees tied for the most wins in baseball and won their division by 6 games.  It would not be a huge leap to equate the 2003 Yankees with the Yankees of 1951 or the Cardinals of 1967 in how they won their league.

The common thread here seems to be 1951, 1967 and 2003 – as far as all teams in this study are concerned (in terms Cinderella stories versus the Juggernaut team). 

But, the catch here is that the American League was the host for the 1st two games in the 1967 World Series.  (Remember, that is how they made this cut.)  Therefore, while the 2003 Yankees are like the 1967 Cardinals and the 2003 Marlins are like the 1967 Red Sox, we do not have a perfect match (1967 to 2003) because the “stronger team” in 1967 (the National Leaguers from St. Louis) was not the host in Games 1 and 2.

This leaves only the 1951 World Series as a year where it matches 2003 World Series – as it relates to the team’s standings background, the way the games sites were laid out, and the outcome of the first two games. 

What happened in Game 3 in 1951?

In the 1951 World Series, the American League Yankees lost Game 3 and they went on to win the series in six games (as stated before). 

It will be interesting to see the outcome of Game 3 in the 2003 World Series.  If the Marlins win, does this mean the Yankees take the series in six?  Or, do past results under similar situations mean squat and this is all just grandstand conjecture? 

We owe the Texas Rangers’ Hank Blalock for all these questions.  If not for his game winning homerun in the 2003 All-Star game, the National League would have hosted Games 1 and 2 of the 2003 World Series. 

Thanks Hank.  A good post-season ponder is always appreciated.

Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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