The World Series in Major League Baseball has been one of our nation’s biggest and brightest sporting events for well over a hundred years now. All of the history, all of the buildup, and all of the excitement of an entire baseball season comes down to one best-of-seven series to name a champion. With this, MLB fans can enjoy the best action-packed week imaginable, as all of the focus and action falls on only two teams playing one game at a time.
To make it all the way to the World Series, you’re gonna have to have a complete team. Great pitching, timely hitting, and perfect defense are key, but you’ll also need a deep bench and a smart manager. Everything has to come together, and when two teams stack up against each other in this way, we get the best odds and lines of the year in the sportsbook. Every wager on the World Series has immediate value simply due to the level of play the World Series brings us. It is important to have a strong strategy in place for when the big series comes around, so you must be prepared.
When Does the MLB World Series Take Place?
The World Series traditionally takes place after the regular baseball season has ended, and so it is also known as the Fall Classic. The regular baseball season ends at the beginning of October, and the MLB World Series is held at the end of the same month. The 2019 series took place over 9 days, from the 22nd to the 30th of October.
The only time that the World Series has ever played a game in November was in 2001, when the September 11th attacks brought about a week-long delay in the proceedings.
The Fundamental Structure of World Series Baseball
The usual Major League Baseball game rules apply with the emphasis remaining on home runs and pitching accuracy. Essentially, the competition raises the profile of the teams and market appeal to the associated sports industries, which invariably generates revenue.
The World Series represents the best that the National League and the American League baseball has to offer, and predicting the outcome is more likely to be luck than judgment. In essence, the top team from each league will fight it out over a seven-match playoff to become the MLB World Series winners. For all intents and purposes, it’s the competition that players and managers alike really want to win.
The Venues and Home-Field Advantage
Both of the participating teams in the championship host the seven playoff games of the World Series. The playoffs are structured in a 2-3-2 pattern, so the designated home team hosts games 1, 2, 6 and 7, while the away team hosts games 3, 4 and 5. Since 2017, the allocation of home team has been given to the team considered the top seed, which is the one with the best overall record that season.
Originally, the home-field advantage was alternated between the National and the American Leagues, but this was changed after the 2002 MLB All-Star Game ended in a controversial tie. From 2003 to 2017, the winner of the All-Star Game was awarded the home-field advantage for the World Series Championship.
Statistics and the Home-Field Advantage
Statistics related to the home-field advantage in the World Series make interesting reading. The American League won every All-Star Game from 2003-2010, which gave them the home-team designation for these consecutive years. However, during those 8 years, both the National League and the American League won the World Series 4 times, so the home-team advantage was negligible.
Statistics also show that the home-field advantage has had little influence on the final result of the World Series in recent years. Since 2014, the home team hasn’t won the deciding game of the championship, and in 2019, the home team lost all seven games, the first time that this has ever happened. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when wagering.
The Best-of-Seven Playoffs
For the average sports betting fan, the MLB World Series playoffs provide the ideal opportunity to pick up better odds from the sportsbook operators. Primarily, in-depth statistical analysis based on performance would be the way to go if you want to improve your chances of a winning bet. However, these principles don’t really apply to the playoffs as historically, the underdogs have defied the odds on more than one occasion.
Moreover, apart from the usual sportsbook prop bets to be expected on the day of the event, there are numerous betting combinations you’ll be able to apply to induce another layer of amusement. For example, predicting fly outs, ground outs, force outs, and tag outs is a lot of fun, which is the whole point of gambling as a leisure activity.
The Format of the Playoffs
A seven-match playoff format means that there has to be a winner, and according to the rules, the possibility of a draw is out of the question. Each match has to continue until a winning team is declared. 2018 saw the longest World Series game to date, which was an exhausting 18-inning thriller between the Dodgers and the Red Sox. The Dodgers eventually emerged victorious, winning 3-2 in a game that lasted 7 hours and 20 minutes.
Designated Hitters in the World Series
Although the American League started to use the Designated Hitter (DH) rule in 1973, the National League didn’t, which caused a bit of a problem for the MLB World Series. In an attempt to keep everything equal, from 1973 to 1975, the World Series didn’t adopt the DH rule. This changed for the 1976 championship, and the Designated Hitter was used during the even-year games. The first ever DH for the National League was the Cincinnati Reds player, Dan Driessen.
In 1986, the rules were altered again, and the DH was used for the games held in the American League venues but not in the National League parks. This decision was made to ensure that the DH rule didn’t have a positive or negative influence on the performance of the home team.
The Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award
The Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is presented to the player who is considered to have made the best contribution during the final game of the World Series. The winner is selected by a committee of reporters and players, who are all present at the game. The MVP was first introduced in 1955, when it was presented to Johnny Podres of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was recently renamed in honor of the legendary Willie Mays.
In 2019, the award was presented to pitcher Stephen Strasburg from the Washington Nationals. From a wagering perspective, it’s worth noting that pitchers have won the award 29 times since its conception, and that only one MVP has ever been awarded to a player on the losing team.
When Did the MLB World Series Begin?
In normal circumstances, the ensuing paragraph would divulge when the MLB World Series started, but unfortunately, the exact date can’t be pinpointed, and this remains a hotly disputed topic of debate. In some respects, though, for the fans, the argument adds a little intrigue to the continuing story of the competition, and it’s certainly a great after-dinner conversation to have with other enthusiasts.
The majority of baseball historians agree that a recognizable competition came about after the formation of both leagues. The National League was formed in 1876 and the American League in 1882. From this starting point, it’s difficult to form a general consensus on when the modern-day format actually started. In short, this means that somewhere between 1903 and 1942, the modern-day format emerged.
Some Significant World Series Moments
Baseball has had a bit of a stormy history, and while there have been some outstanding performances over the years, the negative events are the ones that everyone remembers. These are some of the most talked about moments:
The Black Sox Match-Fixing Scandal
Although it happened a hundred years ago, the Black Sox scandal that was uncovered in 1919 is still talked about. At the time, the match-fixing conspiracy was a shocking revelation, but for one reason or another, it wasn’t fully investigated until a year later. The allegation was that eight White Sox team members had accepted bribes of around $100,000 from a well-known gambler, and this is widely accepted as what transpired.
However, the accused players were all acquitted at a criminal conspiracy trial because of the lack of evidence, which although the verdict was favorable to the players, invariably cast a large shadow over the integrity of the game. Consequently, a Commissioner’s Office was established in an attempt to improve the publics’ faith in the World Series.
The Boycott of 1904
In 1904, the MLB World Series wasn’t played, largely because of the seemingly delusional team owners declaring their superiority over the leagues, and the lack of any real league governance at that time. Various arguments ensued, which was most certainly initiated by John T Brush, the New York Giants owner refusing to let his AL team play the World Series against the NL’s Boston Americans. He cited the lack of clarity in the financial rules as his motivation.
Later that year, Brush declared a change of heart, which was probably due to the amount of press criticism he’d received. His proposals later became known as the ‘Brush Rules’ and were adopted by baseball’s National Commission. Principally, the rules were designed to prevent match fixing by the bigger teams. This resolution satisfied all parties concerned, and the 1905 World Series was contested by the New York Giants, who won by 4 games to 1 against the Philadelphia Athletics.
An Earthquake Stops Play
Game 3 of the 1989 MLB World Series was scheduled on the 17th October between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, but it was dramatically interrupted during the game build-up. Approximately 30 minutes before play was due to begin, the Bay Area was suddenly hit by a devastating earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. Subsequently, Candlestick Park Stadium was badly damaged, and the game was unsurprisingly abandoned.
As both teams heralded from either side of the San Francisco Bay, the series was referred to as the ‘Bay Series’, and later, it was more aptly named the ‘Earthquake Series’. Notably, the 1989 series was only the third championship that hadn’t involved New York City. The Oakland Athletics went on to win the Series that year, 4 games to nil.
Key Statistics and Firsts in the MLB World Series
- The World Series first took place outside the U.S. in 1992, when the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves. Toronto remains the only expansion team to have won the championship to date.
- The first night game of the World Series was held in 1949. The last daytime game was played in 1987, but the last time that an outdoor game was played during the day was in 1984.
- The first manager to win the World Series with both American and National League teams was Sparky Anderson. He had two consecutive wins with the National League’s Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and then won with the American League’s Detroit Tigers in 1984.
- The Cleveland Indians hold the record for the longest period without a World Series win, having gone 68 years without any success. Previously, the Chicago Cubs had experienced the longest drought, going 108 years without a win.
- Twenty-nine teams have participated in the World Series so far, and twenty-four of these have won it. The Seattle Mariners remain the only team never to have competed in the championship.
Where to Watch the MLB World Series
The MLB World Series was first shown on television in 1947, but the coverage was limited to a few areas. In 1951, it was broadcast coast to coast, and by 1955, fans were able to watch the championship in color. The World Series is now broadcast on live television across the U.S., Canada and a number of other countries, which is the ideal scenario for in-play wagers.
The viewing figures for 2019 were variable. The first four games were the most-watched programs, but the number of viewers plummeted after Game 4 decided the outcome of the championship. The seventh playoff was the least-watched game ever, although it still attracted a fairly respectable 23 million viewers.
The Traditions of the MLB World Series
The World Series is often used as a platform to launch or promote community projects. In addition to these exclusive off-field activities, there are a number of ceremonial traditions that fans have come to expect during the MLB World Series. These roles are usually filled by special guests such as celebrities, dignitaries or renowned former players.
The National Anthem – A number of stars have had the distinct honor of performing the national anthem in the opening game over the years. In 2019, it was Nicole Scherzinger’s turn to shine.
The Ceremonial First Pitch – The ceremonial first pitch to mark the end of the pre-game festivities has been thrown by a number of presidents over the years, including Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton. In 2019, there was a lot of speculation about Donald Trump fulfilling the role, but instead, the duty went to 2017 World Series champion, Brian McCann.
Play Ball Call – The ‘Play Ball’ call starts the game in each of the playoffs, and a number of big names have completed this task over the years. In Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, the actor and producer Matthew McConaughey was given the honor.
Previous Winners and Team Dominance
The American League is currently the most successful league, having won 66 of the 115 championships that have been played so far. The New York Yankees are the most dominant team overall. The team has achieved 27 wins in total, which represents 40% of the American League wins. The Yankees are the only team to have won in four consecutive seasons. To date, the most successful National League team has been the St. Louis Cardinals, who have won 11 titles.
Notable Upsets in the MLB World Series
Over the years, there have been some significant upsets in the MLB World Series, which gives credence to the concept of wagering on the underdog. The most recent World Series in 2019 produced a shock result when the National League’s Washington Nationals won all seven playoffs to defeat the American League’s Houston Astros. This isn’t the only occasion that the World Series has produced some upsets, however.
1906 – When the World Series took place in 1906, the Chicago Cubs had the worst betting average in the American League, and yet the team went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
1988 – The Los Angeles Dodgers were considered to have a weak offense at the time of the game, and so the team was the underdog going into the playoffs. They emerged victorious, having defeated the Oakland Athletics in 5 games. This championship is remembered in particular for Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer.
2004 – The Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit in 2004 to defeat the New York Yankees. This was the team’s first World Series success in 86 years and ended the drought that was known as ‘the curse of the bambinos’.
What We Learned from the 2019 MLB World Series
The 2019 championship was the first to be played in Washington since 1933. It caused an upset when the so-called underdog, the visiting team, won all seven games. This was the first time that the away team had won all of the playoffs. It was also the sixth straight time that the road team had won the World Series, a point worth noting when wagering on the 2020 World Series.
Betting on the 2020 MLB World Series
If you’re going to place a bet on the MLB World Series, it’s best to take note of what’s going on throughout the season. Although taking notes increases your chances of making a rational decision, it isn’t critical to a betting strategy. There is plenty of guidance available online from the sportsbook operators as it’s not in their interest to mislead you, and to do so is illegal anyway. Check out the prop bet offers and other event specials, but ultimately, it’s about luck.