Does any sweep in MLB history compare to the Blue Jackets stunning the Lightning?
History was made on Tuesday night during the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Tampa Bay Lightning entered the first round as heavy favorites to easily dispatch the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning tied an NHL record during the regular season with 62 wins, running away with the Presidents' Trophy for the best team in hockey.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets just barely squeaked into the postseason as the lowest seed in the Eastern Conference, just two points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens. Since entering the league in 2000, they had never won a postseason series. Despite all expectations, the Blue Jackets shocked the hockey world ... with a sweep, no less.
just a little spring cleaning pic.twitter.com/I5nrQLyDxT— x-Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 17, 2019
It was an upset for the ages, and baseball has seen its fair share of those over the years. Only a handful of them ended in the ultimate statement of a sweep, though. These are our favorite postseason stunners.
1914 World Series: Braves over A's
The Philadelphia A's were the class of baseball in the early 1910s. They won three championships in four years between 1910-13 and behind their legendary "$100,000 Infield," manager Connie Mack had to feel good about their chances of a fourth when they won 99 games in 1914 and faced the Boston Braves in the World Series.
However, this was a team that had already earned the nickname of "Miracle Braves" for bouncing back from last place in the National League in mid-July to winning the pennant in a romp by 10 1/2 games. They should not have been underestimated, and they dispatched the A's in four games, sending the Mackmen into a tailspin. It would be decades before they recovered.
1954 World Series: Giants over Indians
Much like the Lightning, the Indians were record-chasers in 1954. They set a new American League standard with 111 victories, one more than even the iconic Murderers' Row Yankees of 1927. That team went on to blank the Pirates in the Fall Classic. Sure enough, the '54 World Series was a clean sweep, too ... just not how anyone foresaw.
The '50s saw the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers tussle back and forth to see who would capture the NL crown, and this time, it was the Giants on top, albeit with 14 fewer wins than the Cleveland club they'd face for the title. Backed in Game 1 by Willie Mays' incredible catch and Dusty Rhodes' walk-off homer, the Giants took an early lead and never looked back. It was their last championship on the East Coast before moving west.
Given Cleveland's incredible regular-season achievements prior to postseason devastation, this might be the closest comparison to the Lightning's fate.
1966 World Series: Orioles over Dodgers
All the chatter entering the 1966 Fall Classic surrounded the Dodgers and their Hall of Fame pitching tandem of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Their mastery of the mound had led the Dodgers to championships in '63 over the Yankees and '65 over the Twins. What chance did the upstart Orioles have?
Baltimore flipped the script. Instead, they were the ones who appeared to have an unstoppable rotation. After a 5-2 victory in Game 1, the Orioles did not allow a run for the rest of the series. Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally each threw shutouts and the Dodgers were swept away.
1990 World Series: Reds over A's
Tony La Russa's A's made their third World Series in a row in 1990, having avenged their upset loss to the Dodgers in '88 with a championship over the Giants in '89. The Reds went wire-to-wire for the NL West in '90, but no one gave them much of a thought about potentially upsetting the 103-win A's, who boasted a vaunted offense led by Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.
In the first inning of Game 1, Reds star Eric Davis made a statement with a two-run blast off postseason hero Dave Stewart. Jose Rijo and the "Nasty Boys" bullpen did the rest in a shutout, and after a walk-off win against Dennis Eckersley in Game 2, the A's were suddenly in a hole. Even after traveling back to Oakland, they were unable to do much with Rijo or the Nasty Boys, and the Reds finished off a shocking sweep.
2008 NLDS: Dodgers over Cubs
Well before 2016, it looked like 2008 would be the Cubs' year. It made sense! The centennial of their World Series drought would be a fine time to snap it, and with a 97-win club that secured their second division title in a row, they appeared to have as good a shot as anyone entering the postseason -- certainly better than the Dodgers, whose mere 84 victories made them one of the worst teams to ever win a division.
But the Dodgers had a not-so-secret weapon, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline and nearly hit .400 in the last two months of the season. His name was Manny Ramirez, and the Cubs were powerless to slow him down at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers wrapped it up with a tidy 3-1 win in Game 3. After 100 years, it was back to the old drawing board again for the Cubbies.
2014 ALDS: Royals over Angels
The 2014 season was a Cinderella run for the Royals, who celebrated their first postseason appearance in 29 years with a huge come-from-behind triumph over the A's in the Wild Card Game. They had a tall task ahead of them in Division Series against the Angels. With 98 wins, they were the best team in baseball, and behind MVP
The Royals had already shocked one AL West team in 2014 though, so what was another?
Andrew Mearns is a writer for Cut4 whose baseball obsession was born from the shattered dreams of Mike Mussina's perfect game attempt in 2001. He has a startling memory of World Series highlights that barely functions as a party trick.