Sunday, October 28, 2012

1992 World Series: Oh Canada

The Teams
American League: Toronto Blue Jays (96-66) - First World Series
National League: Atlanta Braves (98-64) - Second World Series

What Happened
If the 1992 World Series was a living thing with a personality, you could say it had terrible timing. It was one of the truly great World Series ever played, but it had the misfortune of being sandwiched between the 1991 and 1993 World Series. I've covered the 1993 Series, which ended with Joe Carter's dramatic home run, and I haven't gotten to the 1991 series on my countdown yet, which means it's, at a minimum, one of the top six of all time (hint: it's higher than that). With all the drama surrounding those two series, the 1992 one gets lost in the shuffle.

It's too bad, too, because there was plenty of drama in 1992. There wasn't the magic of a Game 7, but there were four games decided in the eighth inning or later. Toronto won the first two of those, coming from behind to win both games 2 and 3. Ed Sprague's 2-run home run in the ninth inning off then-career saves leader Jeff Reardon gave the Blue Jays a key road win in Game 2, while Reardon was victimized again in Game 3, coming in with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a tie game and giving up a game-winning hit to Candy Maldonado.

Atlanta got Toronto back in Game 6. With the Blue Jays one strike from their first championship, Otis Nixon snuck a grounder through the left side to tie the game. Between Nixon and Francisco Cabrera, it seemed like the Braves were destined to win it all in 1992. But then the Braves brought in Charlie Leibrandt to pitch in the top of the 10th, and that was just too much fate to tempt. Leibrandt had been on the mound for Kirby Puckett's home run the previous season, after all. He may well have been cursed.

It took the Blue Jays two innings to take advantage. After letting pitcher Jimmy Key hit for himself to lead off the inning - with predictably bad results - Toronto put two runners on base. A Joe Carter fly out made it two outs, bringing up Dave Winfield. In 1981, Winfield had eared the derisive nickname "Mr. May" after his postseason failure for the Yankees. Eleven years later, this was his first chance at redemption, and he didn't disappoint. Winfield lined a double down the left field line to score both runners and put the Blue Jays up by two.

The Braves weren't done yet, though. The first two batters reached in the bottom of the 11th, and after a sacrifice, they had runners on second and third with one out. Brian Hunter grounded into a fielders choice, scoring a run but putting the Blue Jays one out from the title. With two out, Nixon came up again, looking to recreate his heroics from the ninth inning. Instead, he bunted. Pitcher Mike Timlin fielded the ball cleanly, threw to first, and Canada had its first World Championship.

Pat Borders won for hitting .450. No overly dramatic clutch hits or memorable home runs. Just a solid .450 average. 

(Home team shaded; winners in Bold)

Toronto15 3224 (11)
Atlanta 34217 3

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

7. 1992 - Toronto (A) def. Atlanta (N) 4-2
8. 1947 - New York (A) def. Brooklyn (N) 4-3
9. 1972 - Oakland (A) def. Cincinnati (N) 4-3
Numbers 10-19
Numbers 20-29
Numbers 30-39
Numbers 40-49
Numbers 50-59
Numbers 60-69
Numbers 70-79
Numbers 80-89
Numbers 90-99
Numbers 100-107

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