There isn’t too much separating the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros in 2017: The NL champions finished with a major-league best 104 wins and have lost just once on their way to the World Series. The Astros won 101 games before beating two AL East teams on their road to the final showdown.
But when it comes to history, there’s really no comparing.
The Astros, a franchise that made its debut in 1962 as the Houston Colt .45s, is in the World Series for only the second time. Their previous appearance this was in 2005, when Houston was still a NL team. They got swept by the Chicago White Sox, busy breaking its own kind of drought. 2017 is only the second time the Astros have been able to make the postseason since the ’05 World Series. Their drought included three consecutive seasons of winning less than 60 games in each.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have 6 World Series victories (6th all-time), 5 of those championships coming in Los Angeles (played in Brooklyn before). They’re tied for third in World Series appearances all-time with 9, suggesting they’ve done a lot more losing than winning when they get this far.
But it’s been a while since the Dodgers have gotten this far. Despite nine postseason appearances since 2004, the Dodgers are in the World Series for the first time since 1988. Tommy Lasorda was the managers back then, Kirk Gibson was the regular season MVP and Orel Hershiser won the Cy Young and the World Series MVP as the Dodgers beat the A’s 4-1.
In 1981 the Dodgers won too, a run that included beating the Astros in the NLDS and the Yankees in the World Series. Fernando Valenzuela won the Cy Young and rookie of the year award while three players: Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager shared the MVP.
They lost the World Series three times in the 1970’s, but won three times between 1959 and 1965, including Sandy Koufax winning the World Series MVP twice, setting a benchmark for excellence by a pitcher when it matters the most. Their first title in 1955 came as the Brooklyn Dodgers, beating the Yankees in 7 games, as Johnny Podres won the WS MVP.
The Astros are out to start, create history. The Dodgers are here to re-kindle theirs after waiting for a very long time.