This being a Monday, I spent my afternoon surfing the web for coupons for TGI Friday's frozen entrees and catching up on my favorite candle making podcasts. After finding a particularly appealing two-for-one deal on mozzarella sticks at Giant Eagle and hearing a particularly scathing criticism of the latest wick-tempering fads, my thoughts turned, as they inevitably do, to Reds baseball. And when my thoughts, as they inevitably do, turn to Reds baseball, they even more inevitably turn to how the Reds can win the World Series. This is usually a frustrating exercise, as calls for a Hanley Ramirez trade or the promotion of the prospect du jour are akin to howling at the big Red moon. This unrequited howling turns, as it inevitably does, to me soaking in a bath with my lavender candles and a plate of TGIF boneless wings to try to calm myself down.
But today I had a moment of clarity. I thought to myself, "you know, old bean, if the Reds could just get a certifiable Hall of Famer or two this team would surely win the Big One." But is having a Hall of Famer a prerequisite to winning the World Series? And so I turned to Baseball-Reference, as always, to figure it out. Follow me after the jump for a list of World Series winning teams back to 1969 and the Hall of Famers who dawned uniforms for the victorious.
1969 Mets - The Amazin's were anchored by 24-year-old Tom Seaver at the front of their rotation. They also had a young fireballer named Nolan Ryan start a handful of games and come out of the 'pen.
'70 Orioles - The Orioles in the front half of the '70s were something to behold, though they only won it all this once. Robinsons Frank and Brooks, as well as Jim Palmer, led the charge for this particular vintage.
'71 Pirates - Speaking of '70s dynasties, these Pirates had a pair of Hall of Famers in the outfield corners with Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, as well as the aging husk of Bill Mazeroski.
'72, '73, and '74 A's - Speaking of '70s dynasties (was this the best decade ever for baseball? Of course, we Reds fans are going to be partial, but there were a handful of incredible teams that dominated the decade.), the Swingin' A's employed Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter, who are probably the quintessential 1970's baseball players (disagree? Read on). These A's won three straight World Series', which had never happened -and has never happened again - outside of the Bronx.
'75 and '76 Reds - We know the crew; Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez represent, with Pete Rose and Davey Concepcion as ignominious and honorable mentions, respectively.
'77 and '78 Yankees - You know how just a bit ago I dubbed Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter the quintessential 1970's baseball players? It's because they won five World Series together during the decade, the last two with these here Yankees. Also, the moustaches.
'79 Pirates - Bookending the Pirates last decade of dominance (and some would say, relevance), this vintage won with an aging Willie Stargell (now 39 and at 1B, but still a boss .904 OPS), and Bert Blyleven.
'80 Phillies - These Phils were led by Mike Schmidt, who was frightening, and Steve Carlton, who was also frightening. Also, ignominious Pete Rose.
'81 Dodgers - This is the first team that upsets my theory, though only on a technicality. The '81 season was split down the middle by a strike, so the Reds, who won more games than any other NL team, were shut out of the playoffs on account of stupidity. These Dodgers did not employ a Hall of Famer, though Bob Welch and Fernando Valenzuela pitched well. Ron Cey was good but not Hall of Fame-worthy, and Dusty Baker was cool. But this doesn't count, again, because of the weird strike-shortened season. I'm still right.
'82 Cardinals - Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter. I liked Ozzie's backflips, but otherwise this whole team can go climb a tree for all I care.
'83 Orioles - Can you believe the Orioles used to be good? They are kinda like France. You know that a long, long time ago they used to rule the world, but looking at them now, you can't imagine how that was ever possible. Then you see they used to have bad ass Eddie Murray and a young Cal Ripken Jr who was not yet old. Also, whenever the wind whistles, I think "John Lowenstein". "Lowensteeeeeeiiiiiin."
'84 Tigers - This team is trouble for my theory, but not serious trouble. They had Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker up the middle, who every internet baseball nerd knows should be in the Hall of Fame already but because of stupid baseball writers they are not. Lucky for me, the arbitrary Jack Morris will likely be inducted in the next few years by the very same stupid baseball writers and I won't be proven wrong. Hooray for irony!
'85 Royals - You should go look up George Brett again. It's probably been too long since you saw that shit. They also had a 21-year-old Bret Saberhagen and Dan Quisenberry, who is every bit as good as Bruce Sutter.
'86 Mets - Gary Carter is their lone representative, though Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, and Doc Gooden had their HoF bids ruined by crazy, coke, and coke, respectively.
'87 Twins - Everybody loves Kirby Puckett, probably because he was so adorable. They also had Bert Blyleven and the ghost of Steve Carlton.
'88 Dodgers - Hooo boy. There go the Dodgers again, trying to gum up my theory. These boys in blue were led by Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser, who were both good but not Hall of Fame worthy. But...wait! What is this? 43-year-old Don Sutton started 16 below-average games for them before calling it a career? VINDICATION!
'89 A's - Rickey Henderson wants you to know that Rickey Henderson and Rickey Henderson's teammate Dennis Eckersley were on this team and also that they are in the Hall of Fame, which was made famous one day a few years ago when Rickey Henderson stood in front of it and talked to y'all.
'90 Reds - This is where things start to get a bit speculative, because from here on out most of the players aren't yet eligible for the Hall of Fame. But Barry Larkin counts.
'91 Twins - The Adorable Puckett again, and arbitrary Jack Morris.
'92 and '93 Blue Jays - Roberto Alomar was inducted this summer, and John Olerud is one of my personal favorites, though he falls just short of the HoF standard. Rickey Henderson played LF for the '93 team. Also, the arbitrary Jack Morris.
'94 - In '94, I was tearin' ass around my little league, legging out infield triples (yeah, you read that right) and stealing like a thousand bases. It was the most important baseball played that summer.
'95 Braves - These teams are starting to look familiar, yeah? This is the team that forged my hatred of the Atlanta baseballers, as they defeated my favorite Reds in the NLCS and my 2nd-favorite Indians in the World Series. Chipper Jones figures to make it to the HoF some day, and Maddux-to-Glavine-to-Smoltz was an incomparable double-play combination. Or something like that.
'96, and '98-'00 Yankees - This was the last baseball dynasty, which was founded on Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who are certain to be enshrined someday. Plenty has been said about these guys already, so I'll move on to the Marlins, who present a much cooler topic of conversation.
'97 Marlins - The next mortal threat to my grand theory, these Marlins won with a cast of very good players rather than with a few Hall of Famers. But my theory lives on, because Kevin Brown is definitely worthy of enshrinement on the merit of his numbers. His prickly personality though meant his named appeared on one and only one HoF ballot. Whatever. Kevin Brown doesn't give a shit. Also, Gary Sheffield matches the talents of a number of Hall of Famers, but again, the prickly personality (and the stain of steroids) will likely keep him out. I'm gonna say Brown got robbed though, so MY THEORY LIVES ON!!
'01 Diamondbacks - Randy Johnson is a shoo-in, but Curt Schilling is worthy of consideration as well. They'll both hit the ballot soon enough. But check out this team's rotation. And that lineup. This team was so old. But Schilling/Johnson was so good - so cosmically significantly good - that nothing else was of consequence. 20 years from now, alien grandfathers will tell their alien grand kids about these guys. This what I think their conversation may very well sound like: "Blip blorp scuzzlemuck 372 strikeouts glorp glorp." "HOOOOOONNNNNGGGG, muck muck! Scripple dooble slank-slank 7.51 K/BB ratio ungh ungh!"
'02 Angels - And we come to what very possibly could be the one exception to my rule. These are David Eckstein's Angels, getting by on grit, guts, dirt, and heart. Future Hall of Famers need not apply. Kevin Appier is in the Hall of Very Good, but nobody on this team liked him anyway. Francisco Rodriguez is probably the only hope I have here to one day make the Hall, but will probably only happen if he breaks the saves record or something like that. Sigh.
'03 Marlins - These guys get me back on track with Pudge Rodriguez, who is a mortal lock, and Miguel Cabrera, who very possibly could be once all is said and done. Did you know he is only 28 this year? He is only a few months older than Joey Votto.
'05 White Sox - Frank Thomas had 124 PAs as a 37-year-old and he still OPS'd .905. If he isn't a Hall of Famer, I'm not sure it means anything anymore. Also, Mark Buerhle could make an interesting case in 10 years or so. He's compiled 46.3 bWAR and he's only 32 this year. Five more years at three WAR apiece and a more progressive voting cohort could get him a bust in Cooperstown.
'06 Cardinals - Uh, Pujols. Dang.
'07 Red Sox - Officially, I'm going with Schilling. He was really, really good, but up to this point I've been going with his safer teammates in this here little game. But he's probably the safest bet on this team, with Manny likely hexed by his antics. Dustin Pedroia is definitely worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
'08 Phillies - This is where the real speculation starts, because there is nobody on this team who is at the end of a Hall-worthy career like Schilling and the good young players are still too young, because this was just three years ago. Chase Utley looked like the surest best on this team when it happened, but it looks like he's aging like a second baseman. Voters could really dig Ryan Howard's RBI totals, but even then his late start (his first full season was at 26) will probably stunt his number compiling capabilities. Cole Hamels could do it.
'09 Yankees - Jeter and Mo.
'10 Giants - Tim Lincecum is on his way, that's fer sher. If only Wayne Krivsky could have known. Buster Posey looks like a terrific young catcher, and though it seems silly to speculate on the Hall of Fame credentials of a 24-year-old, it's instructive to remember that they have to start somewhere.
So, uh, there you have it. 42 years of World Series history in the modern LCS format and really only one team that did it without a Hall of Famer. So this off-season when we are all futzing around with possible lineups and possible trade acquisitions and possible free agent signings, we must all remember to operate under one directive: make sure we find a future Hall of Famer. Or David Eckstein.