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Will the World Series Dilemma Continue in 2022?

Recent history has not been kind to defending World Series champions.

Dynasties Across Sports

On February 1st, 2015, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after an unlikely Super Bowl win fueled by one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. What Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots did not know was that they would be returning to the big stage two years later, in February of 2017, as well as 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, that same year, Stephen Curry and Lebron James faced off for the first of four consecutive NBA Finals series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors (2015-2018), after which the Warriors would face the Toronto Raptors for a fifth consecutive Finals appearance.

Even in College Football, Alabama appeared in the National Championship every year from 2016 to 2019, winning in ‘16 and ‘18. They also won in the 2020 season and fell to Georgia in 2021, meaning since 2016, they have appeared in all but one NC game in a seven-year span.

Where could I be going with this? Dynasties exist in all these sports and continue to thrive throughout 2022, with Golden State winning yet another NBA Finals and Alabama being among the favorites this season. In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup back-to-back seasons in ‘16 and ‘17, and the Tampa Bay Lightning did the same in ‘20 and ‘21. That means one American sport remains an outlier: baseball.

World Series Statistics

This stat has been one of my favorites about the sport I love so much, as each long season ends with a chance for a new team to win year in and year out. In order to find the last time a team won the World Series and then returned the next season, you need to go back nearly a decade and a half to the ‘08-’09 Philadelphia Phillies, a team that, prior to this season, did not make the playoffs since 2011. If you want to go back to the last time a team won two World Series consecutively, you'd have to go to the turn of the century, when the 1999 and 2000 Yankees brought home their second and third consecutive World Series trophies (they won in '98 as well). For perspective, I was not even born yet.

Minor MLB Dynasties

This stat does not negate some teams dominance in recent history. The San Francisco Giants won the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series. However, they were not able to make any noise in the years before, between, or after. The Texas Rangers appeared in the 2010 and 2011 World Series, but were not able to win in either appearance. The Kansas City Royals lost the World Series to the Giants in 2014, then returned a season later to defeat the New York Mets in 2015. It took the Dodgers losing the World Series in ‘17 and ‘18, not making it in ‘19, then returning in a shortened 2020 season to finally get the job done. Point being, teams have been dominant in recent years, yet every season proves that, in baseball, it's really hard to win one World Series ring and make it back next season, let alone winning two in a row.

Atlanta Braves: Curse-Breakers?

Now the reason I am writing this article is because in 2022 this streak may be over. The Atlanta Braves had a strong finish to the regular season and likely secured a bye into the NLDS as the second seed in the National League, after sweeping the Mets and taking the lead in the NL East. Mind you, they were trailing by 10.5 games 110 games in June.

After defeating the Houston Astros in 2021, the Braves lost fan-favorite 1B Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers in free agency, followed by playoff heroes Jorge Soler and Joc Pederson. However, with the addition of power-hitting 1B Matt Olson via trade with the Athletics, RF Ronald Acuña Jr. returning from an ACL tear, and the betting favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, CF Michael Harris, you can make a strong case that this Braves team has improved after their World Series victory a year ago.

Buckle Up

The nature of baseball and the inability to create a dynasty is what makes the sport fun to watch and be a part of. Nevertheless, this could be the year that the streaks of new teams winning the World Series and defending champions not making it comes to an end. The Braves hold the key, or ring rather, to breaking a dubious precedent set by each of the last 13 World Series champions. They may just have the talent and momentum to get it done.

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