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MLB Wild Cards that won the World Series

In the world of sport there are many different variations for the word ‘Wild Card’, so many in fact, that it gets confusing.  Let’s look at some examples.

In tennis a wild card is a player included in the draw of a tennis event at the discretion of the tournament’s organising committee or organisation. Both main draw and qualifying wild cards may be made available at event and are usually give to a local player or an outsider who has recently performed very well at a preceding tournament.

In the Olympics wild cards are given to athletes in the host country who didn’t quite but nearly make the qualification standards.   Or the card could be given to a smaller nation with a small team to give this country a better chance.

In North American professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NHL, “wild card” refers to a team that qualifies for the championship playoffs without winning their specific conference or division outright or the runner up.

Wildcard in Major League Baseball

In MLB (Major League Baseball). (MLB), wild-card postseason spots are given to the two teams in each league (four teams overall) with the best records among the non-division winners.

the wild card teams are the two teams in each of the two leagues (American and National) that have qualified for the postseason despite failing to win their division. … The two teams with the best records outside of the division champions will advance to the wild card game.

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These are the only wild card teams in the History of Major League Baseball to win the World Series:

2014 – 2 Wild cards make the World Series

This is an exceptional one, it’s only the second time 2 wild card team faced off in the World Series (see below for the other wild card duo).  And it’s the first time since the MLB expanded to two wild-card teams in each league in 2012, that a team has advanced from the relatively new wild-card game all the way to the World Series.

Both the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants entered the 2014 baseball season postseason at the end of September as wild-card teams. By mid-October, The Royals had won the American League and the Giants had won the National League.

In the October finale after 6 games, the San Francisco Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in Game 7 of the World Series for their third championship in five seasons.

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2011 – St. Louis Cardinals

Only one wild-card team in the last decade has won the World Series, and this honour goes to the St Louis Cardinals in 2011.  The Cardinals won 90 games in the regular season compared to 96 for NL Central champion Milwaukee, but got the best of the Brewers in a six-game NLCS after initially getting past the Phillies in the first round.

With the Cardinals facing elimination and down to their final out in Game 6 of the World Series against the Rangers, Freese delivered a game-tying two-run triple to right field.  After the teams exchanged a pair of runs in the 10th, Freese led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk-off home run to extend the series to a seventh game.

The Cards earned a 6-2 win to clinch their second World Series title in six seasons. team’s second championship since 1967.

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2004 Boston Red Sox

In 2003 the Red Sox nearly made it, earning a Wild Card berth and came within one game of reaching the World Series.  One year later, Boston finished with the second best record in the AL at 98-64, but again had to settle for the Wild Card spot due to the Yankees finishing 101-61.

The Red Sox famously dropped the first three games of the series ALCS showdown with their arch-rival Yankees.  But in dramatic fashion Boston rallied and after winning four straight to cap off the historic comeback in the ALCS, they kept it going in the World Series.

They won four straight to sweep the Cardinals, breaking the 86 year curse and bringing Boston its first World Series title since 1918.

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2003 Florida Marlins

After their win in 1997, the Marlins went through a rebuild and indeed a bare patch.  But then  in the 2003 season, the Marlins went from lowest team on the National League pole to champions. The Marlins only won 91 games in the regular season, 10 less than Atlanta, but thier form came at the right time in October.

In the World Series, the Marlins found themselves in a bit of a hole early in the series, dropping two of the first three against the Yankees. Starting with a 12-inning victory in Game 4, however, the Marlins again won three straight to close out the series and earn their second World Series title.

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2002 – 2 Wild cards make the World Series

The 2002 World Series was a face off between not one, but two wild-card teams against each other!  The Angels were making their first postseason appearance since 1986.  The Angels weren’t any sort of significant underdog that year, having won 99 games, but the Athletics and Yankees stood a better chance.

However the Anaheim Angels and Giants prevailed and the all-wild-card World Series was to be.  The Angels took both Game 6 and Game 7 at home for the series victory.

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1997 Florida Marlins

The Marlins were the very first wild-card team to win the World Series.  It was the teams fifth year in existence and was preceded by four straight losing seasons.  New skipper Jim Leyland showed immediate form, with the 1997 Marlins finishing with the second best record in the NL at 92-70

In the World Series, Florida and Cleveland Indians traded wins in each game, but it in game 7, Edgar Renteria hit a walk-off single to give the Marlins their first World Series title in just their fifth season.

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