If you aren’t that into regular-season baseball, we get it. The game can be too slow, too methodical, and too strategic for those of us who prefer the faster-paced action of football, basketball, and hockey. It’s also much harder for one baseball player to dominate a game the way that LeBron James does in the NBA or Tom Brady does in the NFL.
But those very things that can make Major League Baseball tough to stomach during the regular season are exactly what makes the World Series so great. With so much on the line, the drama heightens and intensifies between every pitch, as we know the game could turn dramatically on the very next swing of the bat. And thanks to the great parity that baseball enjoys, those dramatic swings of momentum take place a lot.
In case you haven’t tried out World Series betting before (or even if you have and are just looking to improve your knowledge of the event), we’ve put together this World Series betting guide. After reading it, you’ll know a lot more about baseball’s championship series, including the format, its history, the greatest moments, and the best ways to bet on it.
Let’s get started!
Since the World Series is the championship final of the Major League Baseball playoffs, it can’t take place until after the regular season and first three rounds of the playoffs (wild card games, divisional series, and league championship series) have concluded.
Typically, the World Series begins and ends in late October (hence its nickname, the Fall Classic), although there have been times recently when the series has lingered into November. The 2018 World Series is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 23, and could conclude as late as Wednesday, October 31.
While it’s true that the World Series is only contested between teams from the United States (and very occasionally one from Canada, considering the Toronto Blue Jays’ two appearances), the title of the event lives up to its name when it comes to the attention it receives. With nearly 30% of its players from countries outside of the United States, Major League Baseball enjoys a truly international audience whenever the World Series takes place.
Anytime eyeballs from across the globe are on a single sporting event, betting interest is quick to follow. That’s why World Series betting odds are available at virtually any sports betting site online, many of which offer huge signup bonuses in an attempt to attract your gambling dollars.
But while you can join any betting site to wager on the World Series, it doesn’t mean that you should. Gambling sites vary dramatically when it comes to important things like safety and reliability, customer service, and odds. Before you sign up and make a deposit at any betting site, it’s always important to make sure you’re dealing with one that you can trust.
Fortunately, that’s where we can help you the most. Throughout our years of experience in the online betting industry, we’ve determined which sites are the best for betting on big events such as the World Series. As long as you choose one of the recommended sites listed below, we’re confident that you won’t have to deal with any unpleasant surprises when you try to cash out your winnings!
In order to play in the World Series, a team must first win the playoff championship of its respective league. In case you’re not totally familiar with Major League Baseball’s playoff structure, we’ve broken it down for you below.
In order to earn a playoff spot in the American League, teams must either finish first in their division during regular-season play or have one of the top two records of non-division winners.
Division winners are automatically granted entry into the divisional series, while the top non-division winners play a one-game “wild card game” to determine the fourth team that will compete in the best-of-five divisional series. The team that wins the wild card game will face the top-seeded divisional champion in the divisional series.
Following the divisional series, the two remaining teams will play the best-of-seven American League Championship Series to determine which team represents the American League in the World Series.
Here’s a list of the three divisions in the American League and which teams are in each:
American League East
American League Central
American League West
The National League follows the exact same playoff format as the American League. After a wild-card game between the top two non-division winners, the wild card champion and three division winners will play in the best-of-five division series. That’s followed by a best-of-seven National League Championship Series that decides which NL team will take on the American League in the World Series.
Here’s how the three divisions in the National League break down:
National League East
National League Central
National League West
No team compares to the New York Yankees when it comes to all-time World Series success. The Bronx Bombers’ 27 World Series titles is nearly more than the combined total of the next three most-winningest franchises (the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, and San Francisco Giants have combined to win 28), and the Yanks have appeared in 40 World Series overall.
The Yankees are also the only team to win more than three consecutive World Series (they won four straight from 1936-39, then added five more consecutively from 1949-53). And in a 10-year stretch from 1949-58, they missed competing in the Fall Classic just once. With those credentials, no wonder many refer to them as the Damn Yankees!
On the other end of the spectrum, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs both had to endure lengthy championship droughts that were just recently snapped. Boston ended an 86-year run of futility when the BoSox won it all in 2004, while the Cubs’ 108-year drought finally came to an end when Chicago beat Cleveland in 2016. Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians currently own the unfortunate distinction of having the longest World Series drought, not having claimed MLB’s championship since 1948.
Below is a list of every season’s World Series champion (with the team they beat and the series score in parentheses):
With so much on the line in the World Series, any play that determines the outcome of a game is often a memorable moment that lives forever in the minds of baseball fans. Legends are made through tremendous performance on baseball’s greatest stage, and goats (no, we don’t mean G.O.A.T. for Greatest of All Time) are also created for coming up short in the biggest moments.
Here are 13 of the moments we consider the most notable in World Series play, whether they be incredible achievements by a player or their significance on the outcome.
Sick of getting heckled by Chicago Cubs fans and players, Yankees slugger Babe Ruth “called his shot” by predicting a home run in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series. After taking the first four pitches in his fifth-inning at-bat against Cubs pitcher Charlie Root, Ruth pointed to center field, then blasted the next pitch 440 feet into the Wrigley Field bleachers. It’s hard to think of many things more demoralizing to an opponent than that, so it should be no surprise that the Yankees went on to sweep the Cubs in four games.
New York Giants center fielder Willie Mays delivered arguably the greatest catch in baseball history, and definitely the most significant. With the Giants tied 2-2 with the heavily-favored Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, Mays robbed the Indians’ Vic Wertz of a two-run hit when he ran down a 420-foot drive to center and caught the ball with his back to home plate. The play (which is still known today as simply “The Catch”) enabled the Giants to eventually win the game in extra innings, and New York went on to sweep the Indians in four.
Yankees right-hander Don Larsen pitched the first and only perfect game in World Series history, needing just 97 pitches to retire all 27 Brooklyn Dodgers he faced in New York’s 2-0 victory. Mickey Mantle helped preserve the perfect game with a brilliant running catch in the fifth inning. Making Larsen’s perfect game even more significant is that it gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic, and New York went on to win the Series in seven.
Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski provided the most meaningful home run in World Series history when his bottom-of-the-ninth blast to left field lifted Pittsburgh to a 10-9 win over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. Although many other World Series have ended on walk-off hits, and several games have been won by home runs on the final swing, it remains the only Game 7 in World Series history that was decided by a home run in the last at-bat.
Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series with a dramatic home run down the left-field line in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Cincinnati Reds. Although Cincinnati went on to win the World Series with a victory in Game 7, the vision of Fisk frantically waving his arms to the right in hopes of keeping the ball fair will forever rank in the list of greatest World Series moments.
Not only did Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson join Babe Ruth as the only players to hit three homers in a single World Series game, but he also did it on three consecutive pitches. After drawing a walk in his first at-bat of Game 6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jackson crushed first-pitch home runs to right in the fourth and fifth innings, then crushed a 450-foot bomb to center in the eighth. Each of Jackson’s home runs came off a different pitcher, lifting New York to a World Series-clinching 8-3 win over the Dodgers and earning Jackson the nickname of “Mr. October.”
Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner committed the most egregious error in World Series history when he allowed a slow bouncer by the Mets’ Mookie Wilson to go through his legs, enabling New York to win Game 6 in the bottom of the 10th. The Mets went on to win Game 7 two nights later, and Buckner’s misplay became a symbol of Boston’s lengthy championship drought until the BoSox snapped their 86-year run of futility by sweeping the Cardinals in the 2004 Fall Classic.
Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the most improbable hero in World Series history when he blasted a pinch-hit two-run homer off Oakland A’s closer Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1 of the 1988 Series. Although Gibson was a tremendous hitter (he won the National League MVP that season), he had suffered injuries to both of his legs during the National League Championship Series, and his Game 1 at-bat was his only plate appearance of the Fall Classic. Buoyed by the heroics of their injured slugger, the Dodgers went on to beat the Athletics in five games.
There were many incredible moments produced during the 1991 World Series, but Kirby Puckett’s homer in Game 6 stands out as the best. The Minnesota Twins’ centerfielder’s blast to left-center in the bottom of the 11th lifted Minny to a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves and forced a decisive Game 7 the following night, which the Twins won on the back of 10 shutout innings by starter Jack Morris. Four of the seven games in that Series were decided by walk-off hits, including three that went to extra innings.
Toronto Blue Jays slugger Joe Carter became just the second player in history to end the World Series with a home run, blasting a three-run bomb in the bottom of the ninth to give Toronto an 8-6 win over the Phillies in Game 6 and a 4-2 win in the Series. Although Carter’s homer did not technically “decide” the World Series like Mazeroski’s did in 1960 (since it didn’t come in a Game 7), it came with the Blue Jays trailing the game, making it the only come-from-behind homer to clinch a World Series title.
In just the fourth World Series Game 7 to be decided in extra innings, Edgar Renteria delivered the Florida Marlins their first championship with a walk-off single to beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in extra innings. Renteria’s hit came with two outs and the bases loaded, a liner that grazed the glove of pitcher Charles Nagy before making its way into center. Earlier in the game, the Indians were two outs away from their first title since 1948 before Florida tied the score 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
After hitting 57 home runs during the regular season, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez found a different way to beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Gonzalez fought off a tough inside pitch from Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to hit a soft liner over the shortstop and drive in Jay Bell for the winning run. Thanks to Gonzalez’s heroics, the Diamondbacks became the fastest expansion team to win a World Series, doing so in just their fourth year of existence.
David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals single-handedly ripped the collective hearts out of the Texas Rangers with two huge clutch hits in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. First, with Texas one strike away from its first MLB title, Freese lined a two-run triple to right field (a ball that may have also been misplayed by Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz) to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Then Freese led off the bottom of the 11th with a solo homer to center, giving the Cards a 10-9 triumph and forcing a seventh game the following night that St. Louis would win as well.
Although the first World Series wasn’t played until 1903, an appetite for a postseason championship series in professional baseball existed long before that.
Back in the 1880s, winners of the National League would take on the champions of the now-defunct American Association in a series that lasted anywhere from 5-16 games. After the American Association folded in 1891, the National League tried playing a split season so that the first-half champion would face the second-half winner in the playoff championship series. And when that format flopped, Pittsburgh Pirates owner William C. Temple introduced the notion of the top two teams in the NL regular-season standings facing off in a best-of-seven championship series.
But when the American League was formed in 1901, the perfect stage was set for a series that would pit the champions of the two leagues against each other. Since promotions and advertisements for previous baseball playoff championships had referred to the series as “the world’s championship,” the clash between American League and National League champions was immediately referred to as the World Series, even if it was only open to teams from the United States.
Although the World Series was immediately popular, there were some hiccups at first. In 1904, just one year after the World Series was established, the NL champion New York Giants refused to play the AL champ Boston Americans because the Giants’ owner, John T. Brush, felt the American League was “inferior.” Although Brush later took back his words and suggested the series should be contested after all, it never was, making it the only World Series to be canceled until the 1994 owner’s lockout.
The World Series has always been a best-of-seven championship, except for 1903 and a three-year period from 1919-1921 during which a nine-game playoff was utilized. Due to the fact that the National League and American League were their own separate entities until 2000 (something that made the World Series extra special, since it was the only time that clubs from the two leagues faced each other), home-field advantage in the World Series alternated between the leagues each year. However, after the 2002 MLB All-Star Game ended in a tie, commissioner Bud Selig determined that the league who won the all-star game would have home-field advantage in that year’s World Series. This rule stood in place until 2016, when MLB decided to begin awarding home-field advantage to the team with the best regular-season record.
Unlike the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, the World Series follows a 2-3-2 format (the higher seed hosts the first two games, the lower seed hosts the next three, and then the higher seed hosts the last two, if necessary) in order to reduce travel and time required to complete the series.
Simply put, the World Series is one of those must-bet events on the sporting calendar. Although games in the Fall Classic are already filled with emotion, intensity, and suspense, those elements are taken to a new level when you have money riding on the outcome.
Just remember that anything is possible in baseball, and that momentum can change dramatically from batter to batter. (That makes it a great sport for live betting, which will also keep you engaged and give you something to do between pitches.)
As long as you’re using one of the best baseball betting sites (remember our recommendations, which are based heavily on safety, reliability, and customer service), we’re confident that betting on the World Series will provide you with memories that will last a lifetime!