The pool of possible World Series champions have been mercilessly whittled down to four. On one end of the spectrum, the Dodgers never gave the Diamondbacks a chance during a dominant 3-0 sweep. On the other, the Yankees and Cubs both went five games in heart pounding series. Every team this year has an intriguing arc. Los Angeles hopes to win for the first time since Reagan was in office. Houston hasn’t won since their founding during the Kennedy era. Chicago wants a repeat and the fresh-faced Baby Bombers have arrived ahead of schedule. Each potential matchup is a slam dunk. Therefore, the article will hand out rankings instead of letter grades.

1. Yankees vs. Dodgers

mearsonlineauction.com
Call it coastal bias, but a Yankees-Dodgers World Series offering is exactly what Commissioner Rob Manfred wants. The matchup is steeped in history. Only six organizations have appeared in 12 or more World Series. These two teams would be facing each other for the twelfth time – and the first since 1981. Between 1941 and 1981, the Yankees and Dodgers played in the World Series together over ¼ of the time. The baseball world is ready to return to the well. The current generation of Dodgers has developed a reputation for playoff heartbreak. If they finally break through for an NL pennant, the obvious opponent is New York, a serial Dodger heartbreaker throughout World Series history with an 8-3 head-to-head record.

2. Astros vs. Dodgers

The Astros and Dodgers have more familiarity with each other than AL and NL teams normally do. Houston was an NL team until realignment in 2013. However, the two teams have only played each other once in the postseason despite 51 seasons in the same league. That lone matchup occurred in 1981 and resulted in a 3-2 series win for Los Angeles. Rather than head-to-head history, the bigger storyline would be having two 100-win teams in the Fall Classic for the first time since 1970. Plus, the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, and the Astros are still winless since their formation in 1962. One team’s fan base would break free from a decades-long streak of disappointment. Matchups like Kershaw versus Verlander are just icing on the cake.

3. Yankees vs. Cubs

New York and Chicago are two of Major League Baseball’s flagship franchises, albeit with vastly different histories. The Yankees stand in Chicago’s way of becoming the first team to repeat since… the Yankees. The lovable-losers-turned-champions might not be so loved next season if they manage the back-to-back feat. Winning too much tends to bring the haters out in droves. However, this matchup would place most of the baseball world firmly in Chicago’s corner. A Yankees and Cubs matchup promises to be electric. Both teams have a “never say die” attitude that has already been on full display in their respective division series. Chicago’s bullpen has proven vulnerable, which could lead to plenty of memorable moments if New York’s starters taper off from their superb ALDS and leave the team in a hole. This has seven-game series written all over it.

4. Astros vs. Cubs

1960s Cubs-Astros Souvenir Program (via cbssports.com)
The Astros and Cubs faced off as NL Central division foes from 1994 to 2012. While some of the teams’ key pieces are young enough to have only squared off in Interleague play, stars like Jose Altuve and Anthony Rizzo started their careers before the realignment. It makes for a nice story, but the rivalry never truly reached the height of other divisional pairings that are cemented in baseball lore. The true excitement for this potential showdown stems from pitting MLB’s number one offense against the number four offense. Balls will be flying around the yard. Finally kings of the mountain, the Cubs will also have the unfamiliar position of entering a World Series against a team with a longer championship drought.

 

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