Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What Is The Most Entertaining World Series Matchup That Doesn't Necessarily Involve Your Team?

It's hard to believe there's less than a week left in the regular season. While the final few playoff spots are still up for grabs the overall postseason picture has rounded into form. Fans of contenders will of course want to see their team in the World Series this Fall but many baseball fans will want to see the best matchup. 

Now this isn't the NBA where we seem to get the dream finals matchup year in and year out. If that were the case we would have gotten Red Sox - Cubs back in 2003. 13 years later one could argue that is still the dream matchup, although for different reasons. I polled the good folks over at baseball Reddit to see what two teams fans wanted to see in the World Series this year, and elaborate on their answers below:

5. Blue Jays vs Nationals

This would be billed as America versus Canada and give us a matchup of two of baseball's biggest maniacs in Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper. This matchup loses a little luster with Stephen Strasburg not expected to return this year though. Another wrinkle is the fact that the Nationals used to be the Montreal Expos and some of Canada may have adopted the Nats as their team. For what it's worth the Expos/Nationals have never appeared in the Fall Classic.

As for the Blue Jays this could be the end of a window for them. After last year's playoff push re-energized the fan base 2016 has taken on added importance with the upcoming free agencies of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacian. Although considered an offensive team the Jays have underrated starting pitching that could match up with the Nationals sans Strasburg. While they don't have anyone as good as Max Scherzer, Toronto can throw out Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, and JA Happ to form a formidable top three. 

4. Red Sox vs Dodgers

This would have been the preferred matchup for the 2013 World Series since it was just a year after the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade. While Gonzo is still playing for the Dodgers Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford have moved on. Regardless these two franchises will forever be linked by that trade, as it has had significant ripple effects on both of them. The current Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, made maybe the single most important play in the history of the Red Sox with his stolen base against the Yankees in 2004. 

This matchup would also give us two iconic franchises that have never met before in the World Series, the Boston/LA rivalry (although that's more a basketball thing), and a fun east coast/west coast element. It would also give both David Price and Clayton Kershaw a chance to conquer their playoff demons. Kershaw, as the game's best pitcher, would be a major draw to have pitch in the World Series.

3. Orioles vs Nationals

None of baseball's three biggest stars - Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, or Clayton Kershaw - have ever appeared in the World Series. This needs to change as soon as possible. Having Bryce in the Series would be huge for baseball, especially if he were to play well. This matchup would pit him against Manny Machado, perhaps baseball's fourth best player. These two are linked not just as young stars who play for teams in geographical proximity, but are set to become free agents together after 2018. There is speculation that one of, if not both, could become the highest paid player(s) in the history of professional sports. Baseball hasn't seen a geographical rivalry in the World Series since the Angels and Giants met in 2002.  

2. Indians vs Cubs

The two longest World Series droughts in baseball. Two mid western teams. Former Red Sox GM versus former Red Sox manager. The possibility of the Cubs ending 107 years worth of frustration. The possibility of Cleveland winning two titles in the same calendar year. There is a real argument to be had that this should be the number one dream matchup. Either city would go absolutely nuts if they won.

The pitching match ups would be incredible. Kluber, Salazar (if he's healthy), Carrasco, and Bauer versus Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, and Lackey. Andrew Miller versus Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen. Joe Maddon versus Terry Francona managing. There would be tons of former playoff heroes including Lester, Lackey, and Mike Napoli.

1. Red Sox vs Cubs

Here it is. All these other match ups are nice and all but this is the one any true baseball fan wants to see. We were robbed of this back in 2003 when it would have been two of the three longest championship droughts in sports going head to head. Since that year the Sox have won three World Series. The Cubs, of course, have not. Who wouldn't want to see Theo Epstein have a chance to go against the team he already broke a curse for?

If the Cubs beat the Red Sox in the World Series Theo will have ended the two most high profile droughts in sports history. He could do it against a team that he pretty much built, since he is the one responsible for signing David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts while drafting Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Dustin Pedroia for Boston. The Cubs also have a bunch of former Red Sox including Lester, Lackey, Anthony Rizzo, and David Ross. 

Imagine the debates over which team has the better young stars. Either the Sox with Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi, and Moncada coming up or the Cubs with Bryant, Rizzo, Schwarber, Russell, and Soler. The two stadiums would be the oldest and most iconic in baseball. Fenway Park was built in 1912. Wrigley Field in 1914. The Sox and Cubs currently have the best record in their respective leagues, which means we would be the seeing the two best the sport has to offer.

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