By DJ Gallo
Special to Page 2

The Detroit Tigers won't know who they will be facing in the World Series until the NLCS wraps up Thursday in New York.

So with the specifics of this year's World Series still up in the air, why not take a trip down memory lane with a look back at memorable moments from past Fall Classics? (Seriously, why not? Like you have somewhere better to be right now than memory lane.)

What follows is a brief look at the last 25 Fall Classics -- who won, who lost, who let ground balls go through their legs and were consequently forced into a life of exile.

I would have started all the way back at 1903 when the first World Series was played -- which Boston won, ending the 4.5 billion-year World Series title drought the city's residents had been whining about -- but I decided to only write about the games from 1980 on because players didn't take steroids before the '80s. And if they didn't care enough about winning to put forth the effort to use steroids, then I'm not going to put forth the effort to write about them. Fair's fair.

1980: The Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series title by beating the Kansas City Royals in six games. Two days later the team held its victory parade, and several hundred thousand Philadelphians packed the city streets to boo their heroes up close.

1981: After dropping the first two games of the series, the Los Angeles Dodgers win the next four to defeat the New York Yankees. Following the collapse, distraught Yankees owner George Steinbrenner seriously considers firing Joe Torre, then the manager of the Mets.

1982: The St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, four games to three, thanks to a dramatic late-game comeback in Game 7. The Cardinals' postgame celebration got off to a late start, however, because St. Louis first baseman Keith Hernandez wouldn't let the festivities begin until he made sure there were no women in the clubhouse.

1983: Baltimore catcher Rick Dempsey hits .385 to win World Series MVP honors as the Orioles beat the Phillies in five games. The '83 Fall Classic is perhaps best remembered because it saw Cal Ripken's consecutive World Series games streak come to an end at five.

1984: On the heels of a regular season in which they won 104 games, the Detroit Tigers dispatch the San Diego Padres in the World Series, four games to one. To a man, the Tigers said they only won the World Series because of the continued support of Magnum P.I.

1985: The Kansas City Royals knock off the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals in seven games behind the pitching of World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen and the all-around play of third baseman George Brett, who hit .370 in the series. Brett was so hot at the plate against the Cardinals that his only outs came when the ball got stuck in all the pine tar on his bat.

1986: In a World Series marked by Boston first baseman Bill Buckner letting an easy Mookie Wilson ground ball slip through his legs in Game 6, the New York Mets defeat the Red Sox in seven games. Buckner stated after the series that he made the error because he was lost in his thoughts during Wilson's at-bat, wondering what kind of person would willingly go by the name "Mookie."

1987: The Minnesota Twins win their first World Series title by knocking off the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. All of the balls the Twins hit for home runs in the series at the Metrodome were recovered with a thick layer of ice on them thanks to being blown over the fence with a well-timed, powerful blast of wind from the venue's air conditioners.

1988: Fueled by a dramatic, game-winning home run by Kirk Gibson in Game 1, the Los Angeles Dodgers knock off the Oakland A's in five games. Despite the excitement of his Game 1 homer, Gibson lost a lot of respect around baseball for showing up the A's with a ridiculously slow trot around the bases.

1989: The Oakland A's, led by "Bash Brothers" Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, sweep the San Francisco Giants. Despite the victory, Canseco and McGwire were embarrassed when TV cameras caught them in the dugout during Game 1 with their pants around their ankles, injecting each other's bare butts.

1990: Cincinnati starter Jose Rijo wins World Series MVP as the Reds shut down the mighty A's lineup in a four-game sweep. The Series scored poor TV ratings, however, as the viewing public was unable to stomach the visage of Reds third baseman Chris Sabo night after night.

1991: The Twins win their second title in five years by beating the Braves in Game 7 in 10 innings, 1-0, behind a complete-game shutout by gritty veteran Jack Morris. The 36-year-old Morris was so tough that instead of popping champagne in the postgame celebration, he chewed right through the bottle and swallowed the glass shards along with the bottle's contents, all of which he downed in a single gulp.

1992: The Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves in six games to become the first non-U.S.-based team to win the World Series. The team's victory parade was marred, however, when the city of Toronto was leveled by an attack from a squadron of U.S. Air Force stealth bombers.

1993: Joe Carter of the Blue Jays becomes the second player to end a World Series with a walk-off home run when he hits a blast off of Phillies closer Mitch Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6. Despite the loss, Phillies players greeted Williams with high fives when he walked off the mound because they were impressed that he had actually thrown a strike.

1994: Due to the players' strike, baseball cancels the World Series for the first time in history. Sales of apple pie were also down that fall, and many Americans said they liked their moms a lot less than normal, too.

1995: The Braves beat the Indians in six games to win their first championship in Atlanta. The two franchises -- one with chanting, tomahawk-wielding fans, the other with a grinning, cartoonish logo -- showed remarkable restraint by not selling beer under the name "firewater" during the series.

1996: The New York Yankees win their first World Series in 18 years by defeating the heavily favored Atlanta Braves and their star-studded rotation in six games. Braves pitchers admitted after the series that they were thrown off their games by the stunning handsomeness of Yankees rookie Derek Jeter.

1997: With just one winning season to their credit, the wild-card Florida Marlins knock off the favored Cleveland Indians in seven games. In the postgame locker room, Marlins players sensed the team would be broken up for financial reasons in the offseason when management informed them that celebratory champagne would be available on a BYOB basis only.

1998: On the heels of 114 regular-season victories, the Yankees sweep the Padres by beating San Diego ace Kevin Brown in both Game 1 and Game 4. Brown would regroup from his performance, however, to defeat the Yankees numerous times in 2004 and 2005.

1999: The Yankees go back-to-back with a sweep of the Atlanta Braves. Another Yankees victory, teamed with the impending threat of Y2K, further stoked fears around the world that evil was afoot and that we would all perish in the coming apocalypse.

2000: The Yankees win their third consecutive World Series title and 26th overall by beating the New York Mets in five games. The "Subway Series" captured the imagination of New Yorkers and the media, but not so much the imagination of people in other less consequential parts of the country not serviced by a New York subway stop.

2001: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera blows a ninth-inning lead in Game 7 and the Arizona Diamondbacks rally to win their first World Series title. The blown save would be the only blemish on the postseason resume of Rivera, who is indisputably the greatest postseason reliever of all time. Well, it would be the only blemish until he would also blow Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox. But other than those two times he blew saves in series-clinching games, Mariano Rivera is absolutely unhittable in the postseason. To say anything else is lunacy.

2002: The Anaheim Angels defeat the San Francisco Giants, four games to three. While the championship was celebrated wildly in Anaheim and Orange County, Los Angeles residents did not take part in the merriment, as they would not be informed for three more years that the Angels were their hometown team, too.

2003: The Florida Marlins knock off the heavily favored New York Yankees, four games to two, as 23-year-old Marlins starter Josh Beckett pitches a five-hit shutout to win Game 6 in Yankee Stadium. Shockingly, it would take the Boston Red Sox more than two years to acquire Beckett and drastically overpay him for his services based on the promise of one good postseason game against the Yankees.

2004: The Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918 by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, the surprising victory caused filmmakers to simply reshoot the final scene of the Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore movie "Fever Pitch" instead of completely scrapping the steaming pile of cinematic feces.

2005: A year after the Red Sox end their World Series drought, the Chicago White Sox put an end to a string of 88 years without a championship by sweeping the Houston Astros. Despite their title, the White Sox remained second fiddle in Chicago, as the team's victory was bumped from the front pages of the city's sports sections the next morning in favor of articles on the Cubs' offseason plans and whether Mark Prior and Kerry Wood could bounce back from injury and live up to their potential in 2006.

(By the way, in case you are wondering, Prior and Wood were not able to bounce back from injury and live up to their potential in 2006. But maybe they will in 2007, though. Actually, I'm sure that they will. I bet just the thing their frail arms need is to be yelled at constantly by Lou Piniella. The vibrations from his voice will work magic. So let's mark down the Cubs for '07.)

2006: ???

2007: The Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908 with a dominating four-game sweep of the Yankees. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior each pitch two complete-game shutouts -- Wood in Games 1 and 3; Prior in Games 2 and 4 -- but the story of the series is Chicago's Alex Rodriguez, who goes 19-for-19 with nine home runs while playing a flawless third base. And for weeks after, on days when there is a breeze coming in from the west, New Yorkers can plainly hear the rest of the country laughing.

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the award-winning sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He is also a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and Fantasy Sports Monthly, and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book -- "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck" -- will be in stores soon.




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