If we count decades in the sort of technical way that some sticklers want us to, the year 2000 was the last year of the previous century and millenium and, therefore, decade. If we count that way, then we can consider this decade to only consist thusfar of the years 2001-2006. And so far in this decade, we have seen two franchises win their first World Series championships and two other long “cursed” franchises win their first championships in over 80 years each. And the other season? That season, 2003 saw two cursed franchises each 5 outs away from World Series visits only to have historic meltdowns. This has been the decade of the return to “parity” in baseball as despite the Yankees’ escalating payroll, long time champagne droughts have ended all over the country.
The 1990s were a different time, characterized by repeating champions galore. The 1991 Twins took home a second championship in only 5 years, the Blue Jays took home back to back titles in 1992-1993 and the Yankees took home 4 championships in the last 5 years of the decade/century/millenium. Even one of the other two years of the decade in which there was a World Series saw a championship go to the Braves, who while not being perennial World Series winners took home 9 consecutive division titles from 1991-2000 and so represented sustained dominance of a sort. The one fluke year was the Marlin year where a team took one year off from its sub-.500 ways to win a World Series and the abruptly went back to being pathetic for a few more years.
This year’s league championship is for the children of the 80s who grew up in a magical time in which their team had a special few years, tinged with a few devestating failures but crowned with a glorious World Championship. This year is a year for remembering those 1982 Cardinals, 1984 Tigers, 1989 Athletics, and, most importantly, those 1986 New York Mets. It is a year for saying, “it’s been a while, but it’s not been that long.” It’s a year for remembering that special decade of parity in baseball, 1981-1990, in which the Yankees only went to the first World Series, lost it and never went back. This is gonna be another year like those good old days—when the Yankees aren’t even in the league championship series, let alone winning all the World Series’.
And the way that the parity of the 1980s overturned the virtual hammerlocks of the 1970s’ A’s, Reds, and Yankees on championships, this year promises its sixth consecutive different World Series champion making it feel to me like baseball has gone all back to the future on us. And, as a child of the 80s, and of 80s BASEBALL more than anything (I’m pretty sure upwards of 80% of all my memories from that decade are in a substantial way baseball related) , I couldn’t be happier!
It’s time to party like it’s 1982, 1984, and 1989 for a while. And then to party like its 1986 all winter…..