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The last night of 2011 MLB season was perhaps the most thrilling five hours in the history of professional sports.
In honor of this unprecedentedly great stretch of baseball, and in the hopes that there’s more great stuff to come, how about a look at the 13 greatest postseason upsets in baseball history? Yes, they call the 1969 Mets the “Miracle Mets,” or, alternately, the “Amazin’ Mets.” And their victory in 1969 over the excellent Baltimore Orioles was an upset, given that the O’s had won 9 more regular season games (109 versus 100) than the Mets. In terms of the difference between the teams in regular season victories (Philly had 102, St. This all just a long-winded way of saying no one gave the Pirates a chance in hell of winning the World Series against the Yankees in 1960.
The Royals took advantage, won the game 2-1, and then blew out the Cardinals in Game 7 11-0. What everyone remembers most about the Marlin’s 2003 championship run is the infamous Steve Bartman incident in the NLCS against the Cubs. The Indians suddenly got good in the mid-90s after decades (and decades) of futility that made the Major League movies possible.
A lot of people would probably list this as the #1 greatest upset in MLB postseason history, but it really doesn’t belong any higher than this.
You may be of the opinion that it’s impossible for the Yankees to pull off a postseason upset. The 1954 New York Giants had a nice season themselves, winning 97 games for an excellent .630 winning percentage. Then Willie Mays made “The Catch,” and the Giants swept the mighty Indians in four straight games.
If the Giants were not such a good team themselves, this upset would surely be even higher.
In 2006, the Cardinals became the “worst” playoff team in the history of Major League Baseball in terms of regular season wins, winning the feeble NL Central with an insanely mediocre 83 victories. Of course, the Reds won the World Series by beating the mighty A’s in four consecutive games. Alcides Escobar homered and drove in two runs to lead the surging Kansas City Royals past the Miami Marlins 5-2 on Thursday night.

Dickson replaces former All-Star closer Ryan Franklin, who was given his unconditional release on Wednesday. Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006, the 26-year-old Dickson was 4-7 with a 3.86 ERA in 16 games with Memphis this season. When he gets into a game, he will become the eighth player to make his major league debut with the Cardinals this year.
And, if you looked at the run totals for the two teams at the end of the 7 games played, you’d have thought the Yankees won. But the Braves won 101 games, and were in the midst of their dominant run of 14 straight division titles. But after back-to-back 100- and 99-win seasons in 1995 and 1996, they stumbled into the 1997 playoffs with just 86 wins. The drama of Kirk Gibson’s famous home run makes the upset seem just a little bigger than it was. The A’s won 104 games behind the steroid-infused “Bash Brothers” (Canseco and McGwire) and a dynamite pitching staff that included the game’s top closer, Dennis Eckersly.
But no one gave them a chance in hell against the incredible, history, unstoppable Cleveland Indians. There were 12 teams with better records than the Cardinals in 2006, and 5 of those teams didn’t make the playoffs.
They overcame the disappointment of the 1988 World Series (see #5) to finally fulfill their destiny and get that monkey off their back. Louis Cardinals filled out their 25-man roster by purchasing the contract of right-hander Brandon Dickson from Triple-A Memphis. When you add the fact that the Phillies had (arguably) the best starting pitching rotation in the history of baseball, this was a huge upset.
But this was the pre-division era, meaning the top teams from each league just proceeded automatically to the WS without an addition playoff round. Then, on a routine ground ball to Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark, an umpire who shall remain nameless (Don Denkinger) called runner Jorge Orta safe at first when everyone else on the planet saw that he was out. The Orioles, meanwhile—also in the middle of an upturn in fortunes that has since vanished—won 98 games (12 more than the Tribe) to lead all of baseball.

Louis won 10 more games than Minnesota (95 to 85) and, besides, Minnesota just wasn’t that good. Yes, NL MVP Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers had two bad knees and was hobbling around the whole time, but LA won 94 games and had the best pitcher in baseball in 1988, Orel Hershiser. But in 2001, the Seattle Mariners won a MLB record 116 games (21 more than the Bronx Bombers), beating the record set in 1998 by…yep, the Yankees. The Mets, on the other hand, were practically an all-star team who went 97-65 and tied that other team from New York for the best record in baseball.
In 1990, the A’s were just as good (winning 103 games), and expected to be even more lethal in the playoffs now that they knew what it was like to go all the way. We here at Total Pro Sports predicted this year’s playoffs would be thrilling, and so far they have lived up to their potential. Yet the Indians beat the O’s in 6 games, thanks to a number of bizarres plays and insane comebacks. The wins had a negative run differential during the regular season (meaning they gave up more runs than they scored), and no team had ever won a championship after winning so few games. So while it was shocking when the Dodgers prevailed in just 5 games, it wasn’t quite as shocking as the next four. Three of the four division series went to 5 games, and there were a couple of great upsets. But the ’87 Twins shocked the baseball world by beating the Cardinals in Game 7 at the Metrodome—the first ever WS in which the home team won every game. If they had to play two more games (like every other series on the list), the Cardinals probably don’t win. There was no team in baseball who could hit their pitching or beat their sluggers, least of all the 91-win Cincinnati Reds. Yet somehow, as we all know, the Marlins beat the mighty Braves and went on to win the World Series.

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