Useful Notes: MLB Teams
Major League Baseball has 30 teams, some more notable than others. Their notability tends to change from year to year due to some combination of their financial and/or game-play success, or lack thereof. The current defending World Series champions (Best team in Major League Baseball) are the San Francisco Giants. Here are some things to know about the teams and, perhaps more importantly, their fanbases.
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- The Baltimore Orioles: Although traditionally one of the flagship franchises of Baseball, they entered a Dork Age that previously seemed to have no end under the "leadership" of Peter Angelos, who was considered the most reviled owner in baseball until Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria managed to take that title for himself with his 2012 Fire Sale. Since taking over the Orioles in 1993, Angelos' tremendous incompetence has turned a once proud franchise into the laughingstock of baseball. Almost everything he does makes you say What an Idiot. They had 14 consecutive losing seasons, topped only by the Pirates' streak of 20 seasons. In 2012, they finally seemed to make it back to respectability by making it to the playoffs and winning the first ever AL Wild Card game against the Texas Rangers. In 2014, they won their division in a runaway (bear in mind that they play in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays), and swept the heavily favored Tigers in the Division Series before falling to the upstart Royals in the ALCS. The team's most famous players, historically, are super-fielder Brooks Robinson and "Iron Man" Cal Ripken Jr, both Hall-of-Famers who played their entire careers with the Orioles. The team's glory years were 1966-1983, when most of the franchise's best players were at their peak and the manager was the intelligent but famously hot-tempered Earl Weaver. Prior to 1953, the club was known as the St. Louis Browns and even then were mostly associated with losing, though they did manage a single World Series appearance in 1944 where they lost to in-town rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. During this era the Browns fielded the shortest player in baseball history, 3'7" midget Eddie Gaedel, who took one at-bat as a publicity stunt. The Browns years are something of an Old Shame for Baltimore, as the Orioles do not recognize or commemorate any of their statistics or records from their time in St. Louis, and instead leave it to the Cardinals to honor the "Brownies." They currently play at Camden Yards, widely considered one of the most beautiful stadiums in the league. Camden Yards was, when built, a faux-retro baseball-only stadium that was, over the next decade or so, emulated league-wide by teams looking for a new stadium; previously, many teams (particularly the Braves, Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Phillies) played in bland, circular concrete structures built for multiple sports.
- The Boston Red Sox are often considered by their fans — beg your pardon, Red Sox Nation — to be La Résistance to the Yankees' Evil Empire (a view not much shared by fans of other teams these days, given that they have effectively acted exactly like the Yankees since 2004), and had a 86-year span from 1918 to 2004 in which they did not win a single World Series (this is sometimes known as "The Curse of the Bambino", although despite what the American film version of Fever Pitch told you, barely any hardcore Sox fans believed that this curse was why they kept losing). That finally ended in 2004 when the Red Sox, coming off a Miracle Rally that saw them come back from an unprecedented 3 games to nothing hole to beat the Yankees, swept the Cardinals in the World Series (during a lunar eclipse, nonetheless). They've won two more championships since then, effectively ending their "loser" status for good. The Red Sox are Serious Business in Boston, and the rivalry between them and the Yankees is the biggest Fandom Rivalry in North American sports, if not sports period. When viewed from outside the rivalry, however, the Red Sox have since the end of the curse merely become the lesser of two evils (the result of adopting Yankee-like spending habits). For a while they were said to be "Moneyball on an unlimited budget", as their (then) general manager Theo Epstein used those ideas to great effect. The Red Sox play in Fenway Park, which was built in 1912, making it the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. Fenway itself is known for "The Green Monster", a ridiculously high left-field wall erected to compensate for its close relative proximity to home plate. (Short pop flies that would be easily caught in other parks can turn into home runs over the Green Monster, while hard liners that would fly out of other parks bounce off the Green Monster for doubles or sometimes even singles. In rare cases balls have come close to landing on the nearby Massachusetts Turnpike, and it is not unheard of for home runs to reach the nearby parking lot and break windshields. If you love your car, don't even attempt to park on Lansdowne Street.) Because of the management after Jackie Robinson's debut, they were the absolute last team to integrate in baseball, passing on both Robinson and Willie Mays.
- On the business side of things, the Sox are currently owned by a corporation called "Fenway Sports Group" (FSG for short). FSG is noted for turning their Red Sox proceeds into a sports empire, buying up teams in other sports (including Liverpool FC) and establishing a massively successful sports-marketing consultancy (they handle LeBron James' rights, for one thing).
- The New York Yankees: If you can name only one baseball team, it probably is this one. Being the most successful team in the World Series era (27 titles) and the fact that it is based in the Big Applesauce have combined to make the Yankees the most popular team in America.... and the most hated team in America. You must, by internet law, either hate them with a passion that rivals the love you have of your own team or be an obnoxious, unpleasable pinstripe-wearer. An entire industry exists of anti-Yankee media, and although primarily centered in Boston, it thrives throughout North America, including New York itself (like the primarily pro-Mets Daily News). The same thing goes for pro-Yankee media (especially the New York Post). Easily the Big Bad of Major League Baseball. (And Creator's Pet too: wherever you are in America, like 'em or not, odds are there's a Yankee game on the tube.) Team owners George Steinbrenner and his sons are, however, universally considered an example of Evil Overlord (or at least a Mean Boss), while Lou Gehrig is universally beloved. This is not a new phenomenon. The play Damn Yankees!, about a man who hates them so much he sells his soul to the Devil to beat them, was written over fifty years ago. Choked in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, allowing the Red Sox to make the first 0-3 comeback in baseball history and win their first Series title in 86 years. Red Sox fans will never let them forget this. Notable for having not one (Ruth), not two (Gehrig), not three (DiMaggio), but four (Mickey Mantle) names in the argument for best baseball player ever. Their 27 World Series championships make them both the most successful team in Major League Baseball, AND North American professional sports. Their current GM is Brian Cashman.
- Fun fact: The Yankees once signed lifetime celebrity fan Billy Crystal to a one-day contract and let him have an at-bat in a spring training game.
- The Yankees nickname was not officially used until 1913. Actually the team originated in Baltimore in 1901 note , playing for two seasons before moving to New Yorknote .
- The Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays: A relatively new team, they spent the first decade of existence losing a lot and generally coming in last. However, in 2008, they Took a Level in Badass: going worst-to-first, winning their division, defeated the much-higher-payroll Yankees and Red Sox, and made it all the way to the World Series, largely due to the emergence of a number of extremely talented younger players and lights-out relief pitching. Though they've displayed a Montreal Expos-like inability to hold onto their stars, they have remained competitive, winning another division in 2010 and coming out of nowhere to steal the wild card from the Boston Red Sox in 2011. How long they can keep this up, however, remains to be seen. Their notoriously lukewarm fanbase and terrible stadiumnote don't help, not to mention the fact that they have to share a division with perennial AL powerhouses Boston and New York.
- The Toronto Blue Jays are Canada's team. Their glory days were the early 90s when they put together an All-Star lineup and won two consecutive World Series ('92 and '93). They also got a stadium, first called the Sky Dome, which had this cool "futuristic" retractable roof that popularized the trend in bad-weather ballparks. Today, Toronto performs like a smallish-market team, not because Toronto is a small city, but rather because some players refuse to play in Canada due to much higher taxes than the U.S. They also have the misfortune of playing in the brutal American League Eastern division, where they're forced to compete against perennial powerhouses like the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the recently good Tampa Bay Rays. In recent years, they've had a tendency to get off to a fast start only to fade halfway through the season. Roberto Alomar, who played a crucial role in the Jays' back-to-back championships, was inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Blue Jays cap. Paul Molitor, another Hall-of-Famer, also spent time in Toronto, and was the MVP of the Jays' 1993 World Series championship.
- The Chicago White Sox: President Barack Obama's favorite team (to the point where he wore their logo-jacket to an All-Star Game in St. Louis, resulting in a awkward situation), they also had a Butt Monkey era, which began, it is said, in 1919 when 8 of the team's players ("The Black Sox" or "the 8 Men Out"), including Shoeless Joe Jackson, either took, intended to take or knew the others were taking money to throw the World Series. All 8 of them were kicked out. Forever. And then the White Sox didn't win anything until 2005, when Magnificent Bastard Ozzie Guillen (who had starred for them as a shortstop during The Nineties) guided them to a World Series championship. It still didn't make them more popular than the Cubs, though. Play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson is known for his memetic play-calling and embrace of bias for the Sox when most announcers at least try to present a neutral position ("He gone" when an opposing player strikes out, "can of corn" for any high pop-up, and his signature home run call of "You can put on the boooaaaard, YES!").
- The Cleveland Indians, a charter member of the American League, are the Cubs of the AL, only with a modern stadiumnote . No one really remembers how they got their name (popular belief asserts that it came from an early Native American-descended player named Louis Sockalexis, but this is wrong), but some agree it's politically incorrect. Their previous stadium was cold, windy, and in general a horrible place to playnote . Their new stadium is still cold and windy, but it's at least pretty despite the occasional swarm of insects (which actually helped the Indians win a key playoff game in 2007) and, in 2009, seagulls. They lost a game in 1974 when their fans, drunk on cheap beer, began to attack the opposing players. They were perennial last-place finishers in the '80s, which led up to the movie Major League, in which a fictional version of the Indians overcomes their idiosyncrasies and ineptitude to win the pennant. Incredibly, a few years after the release of the movie, the franchise turned its fortunes completely around and became one of the most consistently successful teams in the American League for several years. They haven't really been competitive since 2007, but an improved farm system and some promising young players provide hope for another turnaround.
- Recent team iconography policy has resulted in a bit of a Broken Base. Cheif Wahoo, one of their logos, is a caracature of a Native American who was first made in the 1946 and who's current version was drawn in 1951. He's starting to not age too well, so the Indians have been quietly phasing him out in favor of an arguably bland block letter "C", all while denying that this is the case. Indians fans who see Wahoo as something whose time has passed have taken to boycotting merch that depicts him or remove him from their jerseys and hats. note
- The Detroit Tigers are one of the charter American League teams. Historically, they've alternated between periods of brilliance and long dry spells of non-contention. After enduring one such dry spell for over two decades following their 1984 World Series championship (which included losing 119 games in 2003, one shy of tying the Major League record for losses in 162 games), the Tigers came out of nowhere in 2006 to reach the Fall Classic again (only to get unexpectedly and swiftly defeated by the Cardinals). However, high expectations in ensuing seasons failed to bear fruit; in 2009, they suffered one of the worst September collapses in baseball history, becoming the first team ever to blow a three-game division lead with only four games to play. They turned things back around in 2011, reaching the ALCS with an excellent offense and one of the best pitching rotations in AL history (headed by Justin Verlander, with Jose "Papa Grande" Valverde serving as an absolute top-notch closer). The Tigers made the Fall Classic again in 2012, sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS (this time, the removal of Valverde, who'd started to choke badly in the ALDS, is given a great deal of weight; strange how this happens...) before suffering the indignity of getting swept themselves by the Giants in the Series. In 2013, they made it to the ALCS but were defeated by the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series; in 2014, they were swept by Baltimore in the ALDS. These days they're probably best known for first baseman Miguel Cabrera, their star hitter and arguably one of the best right-handed ones in the history of the game; in 2012 he became the first hitting Triple Crown winner since the 1960s.
- The Tigers have boasted several Hall of Famers in their history, including Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford in the 1900s and '10s, Hank Greenberg (the majors' first Jewish-American star) and Charlie Gehringer in the '30s and '40s, and Al Kaline in the '50s and '60s. Another Tiger Hall of Famer is the late broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who called the team's games for over 40 years.
- The Tigers also have an interesting pattern in their ownership history: they have the distinction of having been owned by the founders of Domino's Pizza (Tom Monaghan) and Little Caesar's Pizza (Mike Illitch). Both are from the Detroit area and life-long Tigers fans (Illitch is a Detroit sports fan in general, and also owns the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League).
- The Kansas City Royals are the American League's equivalent of the Pirates, albeit without most of the history and with a management team that seems to give a crap. The franchise did enjoy some glory years in the late 1970s and early '80s (winning several division titles, two AL pennants in 1980 and 1985, and the 1985 World Series, and boasting eventual Hall of Famer George Brett at third base) before sliding into perennial non-contention in the ensuing decades. Their stadium, which features a fountain just beyond the center field fence, is regarded as one of the nicest in baseball. (And just to clarify, they play in Missouri, not Kansas.) In The New Tens, baseball analysts thought that the Royals might finally be due for a turnaround in the next few seasons; years of losing enabled the team to stockpile quite a few high-ceiling prospects, and some of those prospects appeared to be on the verge of breaking through. The analysts were proven right in 2014, when the Royals made the wild-card game, won it, and then made the World Series, where they came within a single victory of winning it all (and probably would have won had it not been for the heroics of Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner).
- The Minnesota Twins: Originally the Washington Senators and one of the original eight American League teams, the Twins (who had lost a World Series in 1965) won the World Series in 1987 and 1991 before entering a bad stretch that saw them nearly be disbanded (along with the Montreal Expos). The only thing that kept them from being contracted was the lease they had with the city of Minneapolis. Then, go figure, they started winning, and have become a perennial threat in the AL Central during the 2000s (although success in the playoffs has been harder to come by). A common compliment said about the Twins is their seemingly bottomless farm system, which has allowed them to remain reasonably competitive even as star players leave town for big city riches. They are also often called "scrappy", with a habit of climbing back into things when least expected that led White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to call them "The Piranhas," as their team at the time did not have one single "slugger" but a lot of "little" players chipping away at the edges.note
"All those piranhas — blooper here, blooper here, beat out a ground ball, hit a home run, they're up by four. They get up by four with that bullpen? See you at the national anthem tomorrow. When I sit down and look at the lineup, give me the New York Yankees. Give me those guys because they've got holes. You can pitch around them, you can pitch to them. These little guys? Castillo and all of them? People worry about the catcher, what's his name, Mauer? Fine, yeah, a good hitter, but worry about the little [guys], they're on base all the time."
- The Houston Astros (originally the Colt .45s) are the world record holders for most ugly uniforms. MLB awarded the franchise in 1962 when owners unable to obtain expansion teams decided to form their own league, the Continental League. The league was intended solely to bluff MLB into awarding the cities MLB franchises; the Astros were awarded in response along with the Senators (now Rangers), Angels and Mets. A National League team for their first half-century of existence, the Astros are responsible for both the domed stadium (the Astrodome) and, because grass doesn't grow indoors, for artificial turf, better known as AstroTurf. The team often contends, but always fizzle out, even though they did have a streak of success in the late 1990s and early 2000s. If you're any kind of player and have a last name starting with B, join the Astros and you're the next Killer B, a reference to a period when the team had several very good players whose last names all began with the letter B (Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, and several lesser names). Moved into Enron Field in 2000, just in time for Enron to have a major Enron-killing scandal; the stadium was quickly rebranded into Minute Maid Park. In 2011, Jim Crane officially decided to buy the team, in exchange for their move into the AL West (Pacific) division in 2013; this makes them the second of the currently operating teams to have switched leagues.
- The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The other team in Greater Los Angeles area. Formerly known as the California Angels. They spent most of their history as the Butt Monkey of the area living in the shadow of the more popular and successful Dodgers and being a a place where past their prime players spent their final years. From its inception 1961 until his death in 1998, the team was owned by Gene Autry, a famous Western film actor and singer. In the late '90s, the team was bought by Disney (which had begun to pour money into the club earlier in the decade, starting with the production of a remake of Angels in the Outfield focused on the Angels instead of the Pirates). Upon the company's acquisition of the franchise, they changed the name to the Anaheim Angels and made the team one of the Dominant teams in the American League West, eventually winning their first (and so far only) World Series title in 2002. In 2004 Disney would eventually sell the team. The new owners decided to rename the team the Los Angeles Angels for marketing purposes, but because the team's contract with Anaheim contained a stipulation that "Anaheim" had to be part of the team name, this led to the rather cumbersome moniker "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"; much to Anaheim's (and the city the team borrowed without domicile, Los Angeles') dismay, there isn't a rule about two cities being used in a team's name, and the new name obeyed the Exact Words of the contract. As a Bilingual Bonus, Los Angeles means 'The Angels' in Spanish, so the name is effectively "The The Angels Angels of Anaheim". Angels' fans are noted for using Thunder Sticks, and being generally loud and enthusiastic (although the "leave early to beat traffic" thing still does occur every once and awhile). The team's mascot is the Rally Monkey (a capuchin monkey dressed in team apparel whose appearances are usually on videotape) who made his debut during the 2002 title run. Their biggest rivals are the Oakland Athletics, though they also have a strong inter-league rivalry with the Dodgers.
- The Oakland Athletics are one of the league's oldest teams (being descended from earlier franchises in Philadelphia and Kansas City) and also one of the current sufferers of "small-market syndrome". However, their stretch of unexpectedly strong teams with tiny payrolls in the early 2000s led to writer Michael Lewis writing the book Moneyball on Oakland general manager Billy Beane. Beane's "Moneyball" approach to the game emphasized new statistics, computerized analysis, and unconventional means of analyzing players. And for a while, it worked, proving that baseball really is the Game of Nerds. Many other teams, most notably the Red Sox, then began adopting Moneyball-style strategies, relegating Oakland to the back end of the league for a time. More recently, the A's have again become contenders using what could be called "Moneyball 2.0" strategies. The franchise as a whole has won nine World Series, third most in baseball behind the Yankees and the Cardinals (although only one of those titles has come in the last 40 years).
- Their current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum (O.co Coliseum by naming rights deal, but come on), is also home to the Oakland Raiders NFL team. They are the only team left to have this arrangement. This fact coupled with some disrepair at the Coliseum has the ownership wanting to get a new stadium built specifically for them, preferably in nearby San Jose. San Jose wants the team and has land available for that purpose, but Byzantine league rules with regard to team relocation coupled with Oakland's competing efforts to build a new stadium in Oakland have those plans in Development Hell. note
- Infamously, back when they were in Kansas City the Athletics were a de facto farm team for the Yankees. The team owner was a close friend of the Yankees owners of that era, and repeatedly made bad trades to give his best young players to the Yankees in exchange for older veterans whose skills had declined, as well as providing a convenient place for promising young Yankees prospects to stay in game shape until roster space opened for them.
- The Seattle Mariners are now known for a high number of Japanese players and fans and a good budget who never close the deal. They are one of only two teams (along with the Washington Nationals) who have never played in the World Series. The team's only real run of success came from 1995 to 2001 when they made the playoffs four times, and in three of those four occasions, advanced to the League Championship Series (though they never got any farther). In 2001, they had the best regular season record in baseball history, but still failed to reach the World Series. The club has had a few stars in its history, most notably Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez (who pitched the first perfect game in team history), all of whom are likely future Hall of Famers and candidates to have any number besides 42 become permanently retired for the first time note . Alex Rodriguez also began his career with the Mariners before moving on to greater fame with the Rangers and Yankees. An interesting note is that this team's currently owned by Nintendo. It explains how Ken Griffey Jr. got a couple of video games on some of Nintendo's consoles.
- The Texas Rangers are best known as the team that George W. Bush owned before his political career and producing a number of sluggers (Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, among others) who may or may not have been chemically enhanced. They are descended from the Washington Senators, but not the old Senators team from the first half of the 20th century; rather, they are descended from the new expansion Senators that began play in 1961. The old Senators are now the Minnesota Twins. For years, the club was known for big bats, terrible pitching, and not much else. Until 2010, they were the only team in baseball who had never won a postseason series. They finally accomplished this in 2010 after nearly 50 years of trying, making it all the way to their first ever World Series before finally losing to the San Francisco Giants. In 2011, they lost ace pitcher Cliff Lee to free agency, but managed to have an even better year than before, reaching their second consecutive World Series. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan pitched his last two no-hitters and earned his 5,000th strikeout and 300th win with the team. His plaque in Cooperstown bears a Rangers cap, and he served as part-owner and Team President until late in the 2013 season, when he was pushed out of the front office after a dispute with the majority owners and ended up selling his stake in the team. His guidance, especially with regard to how to handle pitchers, is considered the biggest factor in the team's turnaround. Especially in light of both the inter-division battle and the recent move by Josh Hamilton that came with Hammy making bashing remarks about Texas as a franchise, the Rangers' fans seem to see the Los Angeles Angels as their arch-rival.
- The Atlanta Braves are, along with the Cubs, one of the two franchises that have existed since the beginning of the National League, though they were originally based in Boston and later Milwaukee. Actually, they're even older than that; they were formed when the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, folded and their manager and key players migrated to Boston. They are the oldest continuously existing sports franchise in America. Historically, they've had flashes of success interspersed with long periods of being a Butt Monkey. For an example of the first, there's the team of Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth's career home run record despite receiving numerous death threats. After Aaron, they went from mediocre to horrible in the mid-to-late 1980s. In 1991, they went worst-to-first, went on an absolute tear in the second half of the season, defeated the Pirates on a controversial call in the NL Championship Series, and lost in the World Series. Then, in 1992, they basically did the same thing all over again. From then until 2005, they made the playoffs every year, won one World Series, and were best known for their outstanding starting pitching rotation. After 2005, they've alternated between also-rans to low-rung playoff team. They are one of two teams (the other one being, again, the Cubs) that has had nationwide television coverage thanks to Ted Turner's WTBS "superstation" (now Atlanta-only), and, therefore, one of the Majors' biggest fan bases. The Braves have played the most seasons out of any professional sports franchise, due to the Cubs losing two seasons over the Great Chicago Fire.
- The Miami Marlins: Formerly known as the Florida Marlins. Came into the league in 1993. Until 2012, they played their games in a giant football stadium intended for the NFL's Miami Dolphins to minuscule audiences that would make even a smaller stadium appear empty. Announced attendances were small enough already, usually hovering around 10,000, but the crowd actually in the stadium had a tendency to go into triple digits from time to time, to the point where hecklers who would never be heard in a regular game setting were thrown out of the game as the umpire could hear them very well, and player chatter was easily heard in the stands without amplification. In a stadium with a capacity over 75,000. This comes partly as a result of Miami being a football town (altho this comes off as a rather Lame Excuse as teams from other football towns —such as Los Angeles— have no attendance problems) and most notably the distance to the stadium from population areas (suburban stadiums distant from a city are fine for football games and concerts, but nobody wants to make that drive up to 81 times a year for baseball), but more as a result of poor ownership. Weather is also a factor; games in Miami are extremely prone to being rained (or even hurricaned) out. The Marlins have won two World Series championships in 1997 and 2003, but both titles, and several other seasons besides, were immediately followed by releasing or trading virtually every breakout player on the team. They made frequent threats to move the team if a new stadium was not built, which they finally got; they moved into it in 2012, it has both a retractable roof and a backstop featuring an aquarium with real fish (which will be protected with hopefully multiple layers of Lexan). As a side effect, they will be known as the Miami Marlins when they move, a condition of the new stadium deal. Current Marlins' owner Jeffrey Loria is arguably one of the most hated owners in baseball behind Baltimore's Angelos and New York's Steinbrenner. He's been accused of deliberately putting an inferior product on the field simply to save money, and has on two separate occasions fired a well-liked, well-respected manager for failing to win with such a cash-strapped lineup.
- As a point of interest, the Marlins have never lost a postseason series, the only club in baseball this can be said of; the two times they made it to the postseason, they won it all. They were also the Wild Card of the NL during those two postseasons, meaning that they've won two World Championships but have never finished first in their own division.
- After Loria's 2012 gutting of the team, he easily became the most hated owner in baseball. Fans believed he crossed the baseball equivalent of the Moral Event Horizon.
- The New York Mets: The Unfavourite of the two New York baseball teams, the Mets (a shortened version of Metropolitans, the name of an old New York baseball team from the 19th century) have, for most their history, been the polar opposite of their more popular and older brother. They tend to go through cycles of brilliant play for five or six years followed by stretches where they're one of the worst teams in the league. They've won two World Series titles, both of which are the source of major Baseball mythology (the first one literally considered a miracle, the second one only happening because they were playing the Red Sox during their Curse of the Bambino stage (see: Bill Buckner). The Mets' first season (1962) featured only 40 wins in 160 games, and is considered the worst team in modern history. In the 1990s and early 2000s, they frequently sported one of the higher budgets in the majors, only to have an uncanny tendency to collapse in the season's final weeks; in 2007, they coughed up a seven game lead with seventeen to play, then did the same in 2008 with a three and a half game lead, both times losing the division race to their hated rival the Phillies. In 2009, a rash of injuries caused them to tumble to fourth place, and they've been in rebuilding mode ever since (though a sudden surplus of promising young pitching talent suggests that contention may be just around the corner). Their situation hasn't been helped by their owners, the Wilpon family, losing millions of dollars in the Bernie Madoff scandal, forcing them to curb their spendthrift ways and creating the bizarre sight of a New York team being forced to take the field with a severely underfinanced roster. Don't worry, they have their fans (most notably Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, and Lady Gaga). Everybody loves an underdog, right? The Mets are also infamous for attracting somewhat rowdy, undisciplined players; as a case in point, many of the players on the 1986 World Series team had cocaine problems at some point during their career.
- The Philadelphia Phillies: Played their first season in 1883 after replacing the Worcester Worcesters, making them one of the oldest franchises in baseball, if not all of modern professional sports. 2008 World Series champions and 2009 runners-up, their victory in the 2008 WS ended Philly's long run of All-Sports Butt Monkey. Though they were the best team in the National League for a few years recently, historically, they are the losingest baseball franchise ever (and in terms of number of losses, the losingest team in all of professional sports). They were also the last of the 16 original Major League teams to win a championship, their first title not coming until 1980. Like all Philadelphia sports teams, their fans are usually appear to be generally good-hearted working-class folk, but they can get really dangerous if drunk or if their team wins a championship (rioting is a popular Philly pastime), or if you are wearing a Mets uniform, a Mets cap, or anything related to the Mets. (or New York, really). Then you are just asking for it. The late great Harry Kalas — The Voice of NFL Films after John Facenda died — was their radio announcer until his death during the 2009 season. While starting in 2007 the team basically became the Yankees of the National League, procuring superstar players (mostly pitchers) at any price to make World Series runs, though a poor 2012 season sent the team back into rebuilding mode. By the way, the team's somewhat uncreative nickname is an artifact of history; in the early days of baseball media would often refer to teams by simply pluralizing a city name. Also the home of the Phillie Phanatic, one of the goofiest and most-beloved mascots in sports.
- The Washington Nationals: Founded in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, they are arguably The Chew Toy of Major League Baseball. Sure, both the Phillies and the Braves have accumulated more than 10,000 losses, the Cubs have a century-long championship drought (and have recently joined the Phillies and Braves in the 10,000 loss club), the Red Sox spent decades always losing to their hated rival, the Pirates went 20 years without a winning season, the Rangers didn't win a playoff series for 50 years, and the Mets have to share a city with the Yankees, but all those teams have bright spots in their history as well. The Expos almost had one; they were leading their division in August 1994 and were considered a legitimate threat to win it all that year, only for the season to be cancelled by a strike (itself a Dork Age), leading to the first year without a World Series since 1904. Their owner spent the rest of the decade trading their stars for much cheaper players. This eventually resulted in the team being bought by the league, nearly eliminated altogether, and eventually sold and moved to Washington D.C. The old owner is now doing pretty much the same thing to his new team, the Florida Marlins (see their paragraph above). Oh, and don't confuse them with the Washington Senators—local politicians vow to oppose that name as long as Washington, D.C. has no vote in Congress, and on top of that the previous Senators baseball club still owns the rights to the name even though they became the Texas Rangers in 1972. As a result of their team's suckage, Washington D.C. became subject to the old chestnut "First in war, first in peace, and last in the National League" (which was true of both Senators teams except with "American" instead of "National"). However, the Nationals have managed to turn things around by following the Rays' and Athletics' method of stockpiling high draft picks (the two most prominent being pitcher Stephen Strasburg and catcher-turned-outfielder Bryce Harper), and supplementing a strong farm system with savvy trades and good free agent signings. And unlike the A's and Rays, the Nats have a budget which should allow them to hang on to their stars. They finished with the best record in the National League in both 2012 and 2014, though they lost in the Division Series both times.
- The Chicago Cubs: The Woobie of Major League Baseball, and the oldest professional team still in existence. They have not won the World Series since 1908 and haven't even reached it since 1945.note Superstitious Cubs fans claim that the team's lack of postseason success is the result of the "Curse of the Billy Goat" (don't ask). They've had a couple of agonizingly close calls (most prominently 1984 and 2003). They play in Wrigley Field, the oldest park in the National League (1914), and second oldest in all of baseball, behind only Boston's Fenway Park, and, also like Fenway Park, among the most well-known and loved Major League stadiums. It's famous for countless quirks such as ivy-covered outfield walls, fans sitting on nearby rooftops to watch the game, and the fact that night games were not allowed there until 1988. They are also well known for now-deceased broadcaster Harry Caray, known for his 7th inning renditions of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" as well as his unique approach to color commentary.
- Irony: The Cubs have made history in the World Series in over a half-dozen ways: (beginning with their crosstown loss to the White Sox in the 1906 World Series). They went 2-2 in the World Series over a five year span from 1906-1910 (not appearing in 1909).
- First Team with multiple World Series Appearances (Two, Three, Four)
- First Team with Consecutive World Series Appearances (Two, Three)
- First Team with multiple World Series' wins (Two)
- First Team with consecutive World Series win (Two)
- First Team to win a World Series without a loss (4-0-1 in 1907 against the Detroit Tigers)
- First Team To Play an extra innings Game (12 innings in a Game 1 Tie in 1907)
- First Team to win two World Series against the same opponent (1907 & 1908 vs. Detroit Tigers)
- First Team to win an extra-inning World Series game (Game 4 in 10 innings in 1910 [for their lone victory] against the Athletics)
- The Cincinnati Reds: Cincy was the first city to have a professional team (the Cincinnati Red Stockings), and although the current Reds aren't directly descended from that one (see: Atlanta Braves), the Reds are still generally considered the oldest club in the league (even though they aren't). Before TV ratings became important, it was custom that the first major league game of every season take place in Cincy, and even today the Reds Home Opener is quite a big deal. The glory days of the Reds were the '70s, when they were called the Big Red Machine. Longtime ESPN broadcaster Joe Morgan was a member of the Big Red Machine, and he would never let you forget it. Another bright spot came in 1990, when the Reds swept the World Series against the heavily-favored A's. Owned for a while by the totally insane Marge Schott, famous for her racist tirades, collection of Nazi memorabilia, and devotion to her Saint Bernard, Schottzie. The Reds have eight players in the Hall of Fame, and would undoubtedly have a ninth if longtime player (and later manager) Pete Rose hadn't been expelled from MLB for life in 1989 due to betting on games.note
- The Milwaukee Brewers are descended from Seattle's original team, the Pilots, who were a complete disaster that only lasted one season. Then they were bought by a Milwaukee car salesman, Bud Selig, who somehow worked his way up to commissioner of MLB. The Brewers are best known for playing at Miller Park, considered by many to be the best modern ballpark, and for their odd traditions such as the 6th inning "sausage races" and the mascot, Bernie Brewer, who formerly slid into various containers of liquid but now just slides down a waterpark-sponsored slide as a cute mascot marketed towards children can't dive into an over-sized mug of beer these days. Brewers fans are also considered to have invented tailgating back when the team played at County Stadium. Bob Uecker, better known outside of Wisconsin for his appearances in Miller Lite beer commercials, Mr. Belvedere, and the Major League movies (not to mention being choked by André the Giant at WrestleMania IV), has been the team's radio announcer since 1971. The Brewers had their glory days in the early '80s, nearly winning the 1982 World Series. They are the first of the currently existing MLB teams to have switched leagues, as they were American until 1998. Despite their fairly small market (smallest in MLB by Nielsen TV market size), the Brewers are generally considered an above-average team. In many ways, they're considered a Spiritual Successor to the Milwaukee Braves, having retired Hank Aaron's jersey and erected a statue of him outside of Miller Park despite having only spent two uneventful seasons with the Brewers. The Brewers are also the fourth team to have the name; the first two were short-lived (as in one season) teams in the also short-lived American Association and Union Association, and the third is now the Baltimore Orioles. For a long time, they were the only team to switch leagues, but since the Astros switched leagues in time for the 2013 season, this is no longer the case.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates: Another storied franchise with a long history that includes 5 World Series titles, most recently in 1979. The team of Roberto Clemente, a very highly regarded right fielder who collected his 3000th hit and then tragically died in a plane crash delivering supplies to earthquake victims. Also the original team of the preternaturally talented and equally hated Barry Bonds. However, for almost a generation they were better known for their seemingly-endless streak of losing seasons that lasted for twenty years from 1993 to 2012, the longest such streak in American professional sports history. They finally began showing real promise again in 2011 (including having legitimate superstar players on the roster again, like Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen), but in both that year and the next managed to pull off improbable and painful late-season collapses that kept the futility streak going until finally securing not only a winning season in 2013, but a postseason berth as well. Prior to that, they won three straight division titles from 1990 to 1992, but lost the NL Championship Series all three times: the first to the Reds, in six games, the next two to the Braves, both in 7 games, and both in heartbreaking fashion. In 1991, they held a three games to two lead, but were shut out in each of the final two games (including 1-0 in Game 6, with the winning run scoring in the ninth inning). Then in 1992, the Bucs were a single out away from winning the series when Francisco Cabrera, an obscure utility player, singled in two runs to win the series for the Braves, with former Pirate Sid Bream (not known for his speed, to put it mildly) eluding the tag of Pirates catcher Mike LaValliere and sliding across with the winning run.
- The St. Louis Cardinals: The most successful team in the National League during the World Series era (11 championships) and by far the most popular "small market" franchise, the Cardinals are noted for their highly-devoted and highly-knowledgable fanbase (it is not uncommon for them to applaud the opposing team or one of their players should they do something impressive), their seemingly infinite well of minor league talent, and their rivalry with the Chicago Cubs (it is said that the only way you can get booed in Busch Stadium is if you are wearing a Chicago jersey - just ask Barack Obamanote ). Their fanbase is not only incredibly devoted, but incredibly nice - see the booing example above. Three Hall of Fame broadcasters were once employed by the Cardinals: Harry Caray (who spent 25 years in St. Louis before moving to Chicago), catcher-turned-announcer Joe Garagiola, and Jack Buck. (Jack's son Joe is the current main broadcaster of both MLB and the NFL for Fox.) The Cardinals are currently best-known for their insane comeback from being 10 1/2 games (21 actual games) back from the Wild Card spot to winning the 2011 World Series, embracing most of the underdog-related sports tropes on this website. Game 6 alone brought them Down To The Last Strike twice and yet they pulled it out, proving to be both Truth in Television and Reality Is Unrealistic. Probably the highest-profile Cardinals fan today is Jon Hamm (a St. Louis native).
- The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the two relatively newer teams in baseball, as they began play in 1998 along with Tampa Bay. It took them only four years to win their first World Series (2001), and they're largely credited with forcing the perpetually annoying Yankees into hibernation for a few years. Immediately afterward, they pulled a Florida Marlins and promptly gutted the team, and have been in a recovering status ever since. However, they did win the National League Western Division in 2011, indicating that they may be on the rise again. For the time they were managed by Kirk Gibson (2010-14) they were more known for valuing gritty, hard-nosed play over success.
- An interesting thing to note is that despite only existing for 14 years, there's been only 4 years so far where a Diamondbacks player hasn't been nominated for the Cy Young award. This kind of gives an implication that the Diamondbacks are like Heaven for pitchers, although it does help that they had one of the very best one-two pitching tandems around for a few years.
- Ironically, they play their home games in a very hitter friendly park.
- The Colorado Rockies began play in 1993 along with Miami (then Florida). Based in Denver, which is by far the highest-altitude MLB city. This is important because the thin, dry air leads to balls flying out of the stadium regularly, leading to massively over-inflated offensive statistics and some very miserable pitchers. This has lessened somewhat in recent years as the local grounds crew began storing game balls in a special humidor in the stadium. They have a strong fan base and have generally been mediocre to good in recent years, including an insane streak in 2007 that saw them win 21 out of 22 games (including 7 playoff games in a row), a season that eventually resulted in them making it all the way to the World Series... only to be swept by the Boston Red Sox. The team still holds the all-time single season attendance record, drawing 4,483,350 fans in their inagural 1993 season at Mile High Stadium.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers: Formerly of Brooklyn ("trolley dodgers"), making their name an Artifact Title. In their Brooklyn days, they were one of the best teams in the National League, winning 12 NL pennants and being in contention practically every season, though they couldn't translate all those titles into success in the World Series. (In 12 trips, they only won once.) They've been far more successful in LA, winning 9 NL pennants and 5 World Series. Noted today for their TV/radio announcer Vin Scully (who is The Voice of many a great baseball moment for 65 years and counting), Spanish-language radio announcer Jaime Jarrín (who's been in the booth a year longer than Scully), former manager Tommy Lasorda, and Alyssa Milano. A running joke in baseball is that most Dodger fans are just there to be seen and will leave early to beat traffic (after arriving late because of traffic). The Dodgers were also the team of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's unofficial "color barrier" and remains a revered figure. All Major League teams have retired the number 42 because of Robinson. Lately known for their despised, now former, owners, the McCourts, who purchased the team with loans against their Boston parking lot empire in 2004 and used the franchise as a piggy bank, before the MLB commissioner took control away during their bickering divorce and bankruptcy. The team was finally sold in March 2012 for 2 billion dollars to a consortium that included Earvin "Magic" Johnson, formerly of the Lakers.
- The San Diego Padres are traditionally something of a Butt Monkey in the league, seemingly only receiving national attention for being on the wrong side of history— they've surrendered several historical milestones (gave up Barry Bonds' record-tying 755th home run; gave up Pete Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd base hit; were no-hit by pitcher Dock Ellis whilst the latter was high on LSD; are one of only two teams to be no-hit twice by the same pitcher (that pitcher being Tim Lincecum of the Giants, with both no-hitters coming during otherwise poor seasons for him); collapsed multiple times at the end of the regular season to allow division rivals to key up a Miracle Rally, notably to the Colorado Rockies in 2007 and San Francisco Giants in 2010 — both teams would eventually win the NL pennant, and the Giants won the World Series that year) and had few players reach individual success (going into the 2015 season, San Diego remains the only team in baseball to have never had a player record a no-hitter or hit for the cycle). The Padres typically field good but not great teams, and few players get much in the way of national attention due to the team's small market and offense-unfriendly stadium. They've reached the World Series twice, but lost both times. The only players to really achieve superstardom with the Padres are Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn, and closer Trevor Hoffman, who looks likely to join the Hall as soon as he is eligible.note Known for odd public address-related incidents; in the team's very first home game in 1974, the owner grabbed the microphone and apologized to the befuddled crowd for the team's poor performance. Later, in 1990, they got Roseanne Arnold to sing the National Anthem for some reason, and she delivered a deliberately horrible rendition that briefly irritated the entire country. And finally, their long-time radio announcer Jerry Coleman was well known for frequently saying things that just plain didn't make any sense ("It's a high sky out there, and that can get you in trouble if you get caught in the middle of it."), and television broadcaster Dick Enberg has been known to openly root for the opposing team during losing streaks. Also known for their former mascot, the San Diego Chicken, who is the reason most teams have annoying mascots today, and their distinctive uniforms: both the 1970's era brown-and-yellows and the modern camouflage uniforms — which are a tribute to the military — are widely regarded as some of the ugliest ever, though even these have their defenders.
- Padres fans are generally regarded as knowledgeable and loyal, though one might say that's because the team has gone through such a rough time in the past 15 years that anyone remaining on the bandwagon has to be a fanatic.
- The San Francisco Giants: Another of the classic NL teams, with roots going back to 1883. Most of their first seven decades were spent in New York at the oddly-shaped Polo Grounds in Harlem, where they enjoyed a three-cornered rivalry with the (hated) Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees (whom they faced in six World Series). The team's luster began to fade in the mid-1950s due to mediocre play and a crumbling stadium, but as luck would have it the (hated) Dodgers were moving to sunny California and needed a travel buddy! And so in 1958 they relocated to San Francisco, where they've been ever since. From 1960 to 2000 they played in frigid, windy Candlestick Park, where (supposedly) a pitcher was blown off the mound during the 1961 All-Star Game, and (definitely) Game 3 of the 1989 World Series was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake. After flirting with moves to Silicon Valley and St. Petersburg, Florida, they traded up to spiffy new Pac Bell (now AT&T) Park in 2000 (with its infamous Triples Alley in right field and its constantly-changing name). The Giants have a proud pedigree of Hall of Fame players - including Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott from before the move, Willie Mays in both cities (but mostly in SF), and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal after the move - but starting in The Nineties, they became best known as the team of controversial superstar Barry Bonds, as he obliterated cherished baseball records at the cost of his reputation. Despite his dominance, the Giants still remained unable to bring a World Series title to San Francisco during the Bonds era. It took a stretch of irrelevance, during which the team hit big on several draft picks - pitchers Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, and catcher Buster Posey - to launch the Giants to their first title since 1954. They won in 2010 by surrounding their homegrown stars with a roster of other teams' castoffs; then, working in more homegrown players and younger free agents, they did it again in 2012. And 2014, creating the Even Year Magic memenote and establishing themselves as one of the powerhouse teams of The New Tens. But even in disappointing odd-numbered years, the garlic fries are tasty, the park is beautiful, the broadcast teams (former players Kruk and Kuipnote on TV, Hall of Fame honoree Jon Miller and his partner Dave Flemming on radio) are among the league's best, and they can always try to ruin things for the (hated) Dodgers.
- The Giants also hold the distinction of having won more games (nearly 10,800 as of 2015) than any other MLB franchise, and possibly the most games of any professional sports team in North America.