It's World Series or bust for these 10 teams

August 23rd, 2020

We know the baseball postseason will be bigger than ever this season, with 16 out of 30 teams making the tournament. We’ve all heard from the start of this crazy, short season that it isn’t just the biggest favorites -- like the Yankees and the Dodgers -- who will come into October thinking that they have a great chance to win it all if they get hot at the end, the way the Nationals did in October of 2019.

Of course, all these teams want to win. But out of the legit contenders, who needs a World Series the most this year?

Here’s my list of "Baseball’s 10 Most Needy, 2020" edition:

1) Yankees
In 2017, they lost in seven in the American League Championship Series to the Astros, who went on to win the World Series. The Yanks lost to the Red Sox in the Division Series in '18. The Red Sox went on to win their fourth World Series since ’04. New York lost the ALCS last year on Jose Altuve’s walk-off home run -- and some with the club still think he knew what was coming from Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees spent $324 million on Gerrit Cole. But they’ve only won one Series since '00. They haven’t played in one in 11 years. It seems like 11,000 years in the Bronx. Nobody needs one more this time than the Yankees.

I’m not sure any Yankees team has ever needed one more.

2) Dodgers
You know all of this if you are a baseball fan the way you know your home address. They’ve won seven straight division titles. They went seven games with the Astros in the 2017 World Series and will always believe they would have won if the Astros weren’t illegally stealing signs. They won 106 last season, but still didn’t make it back to a third Series in a row. They went out and got Mookie Betts. They haven’t won since 1988. All that.

3) Astros
They have been nicknamed the Houston Asterisks, were recently mocked and thrown at by Joe Kelly and trolled on TV by Orel Hershisher (“Guessing is harder than knowing,” Orel said when the Astros played his Dodgers.) After their illegal sign-stealing scheme was revealed over the winter, there is now a shadow cast over their 2017 title. No team in baseball, no team in recent baseball history, has more to prove than the Astros do. They can’t change their sign-stealing history. Man, oh man, do they need to make a different kind.

4) Rays
The Rays don’t spend a lot of money and have still become one of the elite operations in the sport. They went five games against the Astros in their ALDS matchup last year. They’ve been back knocking on the door for a few years. And so far this season, they have looked like a team not afraid of the Yankees in the AL East. They don’t go away. Maybe this is the year they finally go all the way in St. Petersburg.

5) Cubs
Yup, David Ross’ Cubbies. Even after October 2016. It’s not as if the Cubs have fallen apart -- or fallen off the edge of the world -- since then, but they looked like they’d be a powerhouse for years after ending the big wait. They need to look like one again on the North Side of Chicago.

6) A’s
They have made the postseason 10 times in this century. And have made it to the LCS one time. They are run by Billy Beane, one of the most transformative front-office executives in history. They have done what they’ve done so often, spending less money than any team in baseball. But they haven’t been to a Series since 1990. They also watched the Giants win three titles across the bay over the past 10 years. They need to finally close the deal.

7) Braves
Another win-now team, even with all the young talent it has on the field. It’s now been 25 years since the Braves won a World Series. And after dominating their league in the 1990s and making five World Series in that decade, the Braves haven’t been back since 1999. Every team in the NL East has played in a World Series since the last time the Braves did.

8) Phillies
They last won a Series in 2008, in an era when they were winning five straight division titles from 2007-11. And despite a number of win-now moves they have made in recent years, it’s now been a decade since the Phillies really felt like an elite team, playing for a fanbase as impatient as any in the game.

9) Indians
They’re chasing the Twins in the AL Central. Again. But they're off to a solid 17-10 start. And of all the teams in either league who consider themselves serious contenders, it's the Indians who have waited the longest -- like, since 1948 -- to win the Series.

10) Mets
Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, famously said “Come and get us” to the other teams in his division last year, making no secret of the fact that he thought he’d built a win-now team. Then, the Nationals and Braves sure did come and get them, right?

Well, guess what? Nothing has changed in an extremely wide-open NL East. Urgency is at an all-time high for the Mets, as they want to look more than ever like the "Other Team" in New York City. They’re being sold, the new owner might want his own general manager, and a new GM might want his own manager, especially if the Mets don’t do more than just make it to October. If they can make it to October, that is.