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The World Series

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The American sport baseball's main professional organisation is a body called Major League Baseball, or MLB. Within MLB are 30 teams. After the regular season has ended, the eight of these teams with the best record are given the opportunity to compete for the title 'World Champion'. The teams play various series in order to eliminate six of the eight (that is, three from each of the two leagues). Then one team from the American League and one team from the National League play each other in a best-of-seven series. This is the infamous World Series and the first team to win four is declared the World Champion of baseball for the following year.

In recent years, though, this title has grown to be quite a misnomer, in view of the rise of Japanese baseball as well as the sport's growing popularity in Latin American countries. MLB is almost entirely US teams, with two in Canada. Additionally, the yearlong term is no longer meaningful. The 1997 Series-winning Florida Marlins immediately sold or traded away most of their players, and spent the 1998 season in last place, even though they were still World Champions. These quick changes of the basic structure of a team are due to owners in search of profit rather than quality baseball.

Yet somehow, the glory of the Series remains. Baseball fans are prone to great nostalgia in what might otherwise be just another 'drink beer as you watch the game on TV' sport, which America has enough of. And watching the looks on the faces of a team that has just won, who are crying their eyes out while giving monstrous bear hugs to everyone who happens to be on the field (traditionally, this includes fans as well as players) can still be a touching moment.

Unfortunately, fully a quarter of the World Series this century have been won by the New York Yankees, probably both the most-loved and most-hated team in the history of baseball. Meanwhile the Agony of being a Chicago Cubs Fan is well documented. Forever the lovable losers, they have not been in a Series since 1948 and have not won since 1908. And of course no discussion of the World Series would be complete without the Boston Red Sox, who traded Babe Ruth between 1919 and 1920 seasons and have not been champions since. Conclusive proof of the disfavour of the baseball gods was seen in 1986, when what would have been the third out to win for the BoSox managed to slip by first baseman Bill Buckner after taking a mysterious bad hop on a rock which apparently didn't exist. They went on to lose the game, and the 'curse of the Bambino' continues to this day.

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