Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Who will become the Team of the Decade?

By Rick Morris

When the Major League Baseball playoffs begin tomorrow, the stakes will be even higher than many analysts have indicated. At stake is more than the 2007 World Series Championship – the designation of “Team of the Decade” may be in the balance as well.

Consider the following: no team has accrued more than one World Series title this decade. Of the teams who have been to the mountaintop, the Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and Diamondbacks are in position to gain a second grand prize (forgetting for a moment that there is no continuity whatsoever between the 2001 D-Backs and this squad – we’re speaking of franchises as a whole). The Yankees, with two additional pennants and one excruciating near-miss of a pennant in 2004, would, for all of their disappointments in recent years, actually be the leaders in the “Team of the Decade” chase so far. This is similar to the situation that St. Louis found itself in back in 1987, with one World Series title and two Game Seven World Series losses. The 1980s were a very similar decade to the present one in terms of the scarcity of repeat World Series winners and the Cards seemed to be in position to stake a fragile claim to the decade crown – until the Dodgers pulled an upset for the ages over the mighty Bash Brothers As in 1988 and became the only team in the 1980s to win two world championships.

With only two more seasons remaining this decade, a team winning its second World Series of the Oughts could stake a strong claim to going down as the best franchise of the era – especially if it is the Yankees and can pair the aforementioned two pennants with two world titles as part of their case. Not every decade has produced a dynasty like the Fifties Yankees, Seventies As or Nineties Yankees. Sometimes the leading team asserts itself in a more subtle manner, such as the Eighties Dodgers, and that’s probably the main reason that this intriguing subplot to the postseason has flown completely beneath the national radar. But if you are a fan of any of the four teams with a chance for your second title in the last few years, you should be aware of just how much is at stake in the eyes of history.

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