Rays look to win their first World Series in franchise history

David Koier, Courier Staff

The Tampa Bay Rays are on their way to their second World Series appearance in franchise history. Thanks to a 4-2 Game 7 win over the Houston Astros Saturday night, the Rays have a shot at being the second consecutive franchise, and the third since 2017, to win its first World Series title.

They’ll look to follow last year’s World Champion Washington Nationals who defeated the Astros in last year’s Fall Classic to claim the only title in Nationals/Montreal Expos history. Back in 2017, the Astros claimed their first title in franchise history with a series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The  Rays are one of six remaining MLB franchises without a World Series Championship- a list they hope they can cut to five after punching their ticket to the Fall Classic this year. Let’s take a look at how long each of those six teams has gone without winning that elusive ring.

Tampa Bay Rays (23 years)- The only other World Series appearance for the Rays franchise came all the way back in 2008. Under manager Joe Maddon, the Rays went from worst to first, with a 66-96 2007 record and a 97-65 in 2008. Their path to the 2008 World Series saw them blaze past the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS and outlast their divisional rival Boston Red Sox in a thrilling ALCS. It was not meant to be, however, as the Rays dropped the World Series in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Colorado Rockies (28 years)- The Rockies made the playoffs in 1995 in just their third year of existence, then didn’t make it back for another 12 seasons. The 2007 season proved to be magical for Colorado. With the season winding down and the Rockies seemingly out of the playoff chase, the team pulled together and won 13 of their last 14 regular season games and forced a one-game wild card playoff against the San Diego Padres, which was a 13-inning thriller that the Rockies pulled out of as winners. Colorado pulled out their brooms and swept the rest of their National League opponents (the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks) only to have those brooms stolen as the Red Sox swept them in four games in the World Series.

Seattle Mariners (44 years)- The Mariners not only boast a 44-year franchise history without a title, but they also hold the current record for postseason drought: 19 years and counting without an appearance. The team’s only four playoff appearances all happened in the seven year span from 1995-2001. It’s sad, really, as the greatest Mariners team of all time, the 2001 Mariners who still hold the record for the most regular season wins in one season with 116, could only make it as far as the ALCS before falling to the titans of baseball, the New York Yankees.

Milwaukee Brewers (52 years)- After moving to Milwaukee after one season as an expansion franchise in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots, the Brewers didn’t take long to make it to the playoffs. In 1981, the team made it to the postseason for the first time in franchise history, only to fall to the eventual American League Champion New York Yankees. In 1982, the Brew Crew bounced back and made it to the Fall Classic for the only time in franchise history. Led by MVP Robin Yount and fellow sluggers Jim Gantner and Paul Molitor, the Brewers pitching staff that season was also highlighted by ’82 Cy Young Winner Pete Vuckovich and ’81 MVP Rollie Fingers. Even with three future Hall of Famers (Yount, Molitor and Fingers) the Brewers couldn’t get it done and fell in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers have made it to the Championship Series twice since (2011 and 2018), but haven’t had another shot in the World Series since 1982.

San Diego Padres (52 years)- The Padres were also part of the 1969 expansion (along with the Brewers, Expos and Kansas City Royals). They’ve won two National League pennants in their history, the first in 1984 that featured future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn followed by a trip to the World Series in 1998. While neither year led to a championship, the current Padres have recently finished their rebuilding phase and proved they are an offensive force to be reckoned with. Add a few key pitchers and the Padres may be off this list real soon.

Texas Rangers (60 years)-  It took the Rangers franchise, which began as the Washington Senators in 1961, 35 years (23 after their move to Arlington in 1972) to make it to the postseason. And it wasn’t until 2010 under manager Ron Washington that the franchise made its first World Series appearance. Despite making it to back-to-back Fall Classics, the Rangers are still without a championship after falling in five games to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and being one strike away from winning their first title in Game 6 of the 2011 Series. Only to allow Cardinals’ third baseman David Freeze to hit a game-tying triple and later, also one strike away from winning the whole thing in the bottom of the 10th, allowing Freeze to walk off and force a Game 7. A Game 7 that saw the Cardinals win another championship and the Rangers go on without a title.