The Super Bowl is of course a trending topic right about now. In this space, however, we talk about baseball, so the Super Bowl, which is a game of tackle football superbly played in a bowl, would seem to be of not much interest to us.
What is of interest to us -- besides This, Our Baseball -- are clicks. So in the service of that righteous trinity, let us contrive a way to work "Super Bowl" into a headline.
To the end of that very thing, we're going to spelunk through baseball history and ask: What if MLB had a Super Bowl?
That is, we're wondering how MLB's doling out of championship trophies would've gone if said championship was determined by a single game between the NL champ and AL champ. For these purposes, that means the winner of Game 1 of the World Series wins the Super Bowl.
Obviously, this isn't a strict one-to-one comparison, as MLB managers would perhaps trot out different starting pitchers than they actually did in Games 1 of the World Series and have a more "all-in" tactical approach in a one-and-done championship format. However, as a sage village elder once said, "Let not the perfect be the enemy of the
Also, there's the tricky matter of MLB's divisional era and beyond. Since 1969, MLB's postseason has consisted of multiple rounds, which means multiple best-of-five and best-of-seven series. In an ideal world, we'd take the winners of each Game 1 of those series and sort it all out in keeping with the one-and-done guiding principle of the Super Bowl. We'll not wander into that thicket of possibilities, though. We're nothing if not comfortable with imperfections.
Anyhow, see up top where it says "11 min read"? That's how many minutes of your life -- a life no doubt of capital importance -- that you're going to waste reading this. You've been warned, and as such you have assumed all risks.
So here's what comes out of the wash when we consider Game 1 of the World Series to be the Super Bowl. An asterisk indicates that the team winning the Super Bowl in a given year is different from the team that in reality won the World Series that same year. Also, we've combed through the relevant box scores and named a Super Bowl MVP for each Game 1.
Come with us as we frolic through the dappled meadows of the hypothetical ...
|Super Bowl, year||Result||Hypothetical MVP|
|Super Bowl I, 1903||Pittsburgh Pirates 7, Boston Americans 3*||Jimmy Sebring|
|No Super Bowl|
|Super Bowl II, 1905||New York Giants 3, Philadelphia Athletics 0||Christy Mathewson|
|Super Bowl III, 1906||Chicago White Sox 2, Chicago Cubs 1||Nick Altrock|
|Super Bowl IV, 1907||Chicago Cubs 6, Detroit Tigers 4 (16)||Jimmy Slagle|
|Super Bowl V, 1908||Chicago Cubs 10, Detroit Tigers 6||Solly Hofman|
|Super Bowl VI, 1909||Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Detroit Tigers 1||Babe Adams|
|Super Bowl VII, 1910||Philadelphia Athletics 4, Chicago Cubs 1||Chief Bender|
|Super Bowl VIII, 1911||New York Giants 2, Philadelphia Athletics 1*||Christy Mathewson|
|Super Bowl IX, 1912||Boston Red Sox 4, New York Giants 3||Steve Yerkes|
|Super Bowl X, 1913||Philadelphia Athletics 6, New York Giants 4||Home Run Baker|
|Super Bowl XI, 1914||Boston Braves 7, Philadelphia Athletics 1||Hank Gowdy|
|Super Bowl XII, 1915||Philadelphia Phillies 3, Boston Red Sox 1*||Pete Alexander|
|Super Bowl XIII, 1916||Boston Red Sox 6, Brooklyn Robins 5||Tillie Walker|
|Super Bowl XIV, 1917||Chicago White Sox 2, New York Giants 1||Eddie Cicotte|
|Super Bowl XV, 1918||Boston Red Sox 1, Chicago Cubs 0||Babe Ruth|
|Super Bowl XVI, 1919||Cincinnati Reds 9, Chicago White Sox 1||Dutch Ruether|
|Super Bowl XVII, 1920||Cleveland Indians 3, Brooklyn Robins 1||Stan Coveleski|
|Super Bowl XVIII, 1921||New York Yankees 3, New York Giants 0*||Carl Mays|
|Super Bowl XIX, 1922||New York Giants 3, New York Yankees 2||Heinie Groh|
|Super Bowl XX, 1923||New York Giants 5, New York Yankees 4*||Casey Stengel|
|Super Bowl XXI, 1924||New York Giants 4, Washington Senators 3 (12)*||Art Nehf|
|Super Bowl XXII, 1925||Washington Senators 4, Pittsburgh Pirates 1*||Walter Johnson|
|Super Bowl XXIII, 1926||New York Yankees 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1*||Herb Pennock|
|Super Bowl XXIV, 1927||New York Yankees 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 4||Babe Ruth|
|Super Bowl XXV, 1928||New York Yankees 4, St. Louis Cardinals 1||Waite Hoyt|
|Super Bowl XXVI, 1929||Philadelphia Athletics 3, Chicago Cubs 1||Howard Ehmke|
|Super Bowl XXVII, 1930||Philadelphia Athletics 5, St. Louis Cardinals 2||Lefty Grove|
|Super Bowl XXVIII, 1931||Philadelphia Athletics 6, St. Louis Cardinals 2*||Lefty Grove|
|Super Bowl XXIX, 1932||New York Yankees 12, Chicago Cubs 6||Lou Gehrig|
|Super Bowl XXX, 1933||New York Giants 4, Washington Senators 2||Mel Ott|
|Super Bowl XXXI, 1934||St. Louis Cardinals 8, Detroit Tigers 3||Joe Medwick|
|Super Bowl XXXII, 1935||Chicago Cubs 3, Detroit Tigers 0*||Lon Warneke|
|Super Bowl XXXIII, 1936||New York Giants 6, New York Yankees 1*||Carl Hubbell|
|Super Bowl XXXIV, 1937||New York Yankees 8, New York Giants 1||Lefty Gomez|
|Super Bowl XXXV, 1938||New York Yankees 3, Chicago Cubs 1||Red Ruffing|
|Super Bowl XXXVI, 1939||New York Yankees 2, Cincinnati Reds 1||Red Ruffing|
|Super Bowl XXXVII, 1940||Detroit Tigers 7, Cincinnati Reds 2*||Bruce Campbell|
|Super Bowl XXXVIII, 1941||New York Yankees 3, Brooklyn Dodgers 2||Red Ruffing|
|Super Bowl XXXIX, 1942||New York Yankees 7, St. Louis Cardinals 4*||Joe DiMaggio|
|Super Bowl XL, 1943||New York Yankees 4, St. Louis Cardinals 2||Spud Chandler|
|Super Bowl XLI, 1944||St. Louis Browns 2, St. Louis Cardinals 1* (11)||Denny Galehouse|
|Super Bowl XLII, 1945||Chicago Cubs 9, Detroit Tigers 0*||Bill Nicholson|
|Super Bowl XLIII, 1946||Boston Red Sox 3, St. Louis Cardinals 2 (10)*||Rudy York|
|Super Bowl XLIV, 1947||New York Yankees 5, Brooklyn Dodgers 3||Spec Shea|
|Super Bowl XLV, 1948||Boston Braves 1, Cleveland Indians 0*||Johnny Sain|
|Super Bowl XLVI, 1949||New York Yankees 1, Brooklyn Dodgers 0||Tommy Henrich|
|Super Bowl XLVII, 1950||New York Yankees 1, Philadelphia Phillies 0||Vic Raschi|
|Super Bowl XLVIII, 1951||New York Giants 5, New York Yankees 1*||Monte Irvin|
|Super Bowl XLIX, 1952||Brooklyn Dodgers 4, New York Yankees 2 (11)*||Duke Snider|
|Super Bowl L, 1953||New York Yankees 9, Brooklyn Dodgers 5||Billy Martin|
|Super Bowl LI, 1954||New York Giants 5, Cleveland Indians 2 (10)||Dusty Rhodes|
|Super Bowl LII, 1955||New York Yankees 6, Brooklyn Dodgers 5*||Joe Collins|
|Super Bowl LIII, 1956||Brooklyn Dodgers 6, New York Yankees 3*||Gil Hodges|
|Super Bowl LIV, 1957||New York Yankees 3, Milwaukee Braves 1*||Whitey Ford|
|Super Bowl LV, 1958||Milwaukee Braves 4, New York Yankees 3 (10)*||Warren Spahn|
|Super Bowl LVI, 1959||Chicago White Sox 11, Los Angeles Dodgers 0*||Ted Kluszewki|
|Super Bowl LVII, 1960||Pittsburgh Pirates 6, New York Yankees 4||Bill Mazeroski|
|Super Bowl LVIII, 1961||New York Yankees 2, Cincinnati Reds 0||Whitey Ford|
|Super Bowl LIX, 1962||New York Yankees 6, San Francisco Giants 2||Whitey Ford|
|Super Bowl LX, 1963||Los Angeles Dodgers 5, New York Yankees 2||Sandy Koufax|
|Super Bowl LXI, 1964||St. Louis Cardinals 9, New York Yankees 5||Mike Shannon|
|Super Bowl LXII, 1965||Minnesota Twins 8, Los Angeles Dodgers 2*||Zoilo Versalles|
|Super Bowl LXIII, 1966||Baltimore Orioles 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 2||Moe Drabowsky|
|Super Bowl LXIV, 1967||St. Louis Cardinals 2, Boston Red Sox 1||Bob Gibson|
|Super Bowl LXV, 1968||St. Louis Cardinals 4, Detroit Tigers 0||Bob Gibson|
|Super Bowl LXVI, 1969||Baltimore Orioles 4, New York Mets 1*||Mike Cuellar|
|Super Bowl LXVII, 1970||Baltimore Orioles 4, Cincinnati Reds 3||Brooks Robinson|
|Super Bowl LXVIII, 1971||Baltimore Orioles 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 3*||Merv Rettenmund|
|Super Bowl LXIX, 1972||Oakland Athletics 3, Cincinnati Reds 2||Gene Tenace|
|Super Bowl LXX, 1973||Oakland Athletics 2, New York Mets 1||Rollie Fingers|
|Super Bowl LXXI, 1974||Oakland Athletics 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 2||Ken Holtzman|
|Super Bowl LXXII, 1975||Boston Red Sox 6, Cincinnati Reds 0*||Luis Tiant|
|Super Bowl LXXIII, 1976||Cincinnati Reds 5, New York Yankees 1||Tony Perez|
|Super Bowl LXXIV, 1977||New York Yankees 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 3 (12)||Willie Randolph|
|Super Bowl LXXV, 1978||Los Angeles Dodgers 11, New York Yankees 5*||Davey Lopes|
|Super Bowl LXXVI, 1979||Baltimore Orioles 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 4*||Doug DeCinces|
|Super Bowl LXXVII, 1980||Philadelphia Phillies 7, Kansas City Royals 6||Bake McBride|
|Super Bowl LXXVIII, 1981||New York Yankees 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 3*||Bob Watson|
|Super Bowl LXXIX, 1982||Milwaukee Brewers 10, St. Louis Cardinals 0*||Paul Molitor|
|Super Bowl LXXX, 1983||Philadelphia Phillies 2, Baltimore Orioles 1*||Joe Morgan|
|Super Bowl LXXXI, 1984||Detroit Tigers 3, San Diego Padres 2||Jack Morris|
|Super Bowl LXXXII, 1985||St. Louis Cardinals 3, Kansas City Royals 1*||Todd Worrell|
|Super Bowl LXXXIII, 1986||Boston Red Sox 1, New York Mets 0*||Bruce Hurst|
|Super Bowl LXXXIV, 1987||Minnesota Twins 10, St. Louis Cardinals 1||Dan Gladden|
|Super Bowl LXXXV, 1988||Los Angeles Dodgers 5, Oakland Athletics 4||Kirk Gibson|
|Super Bowl LXXXVI, 1989||Oakland Athletics 5, San Francisco Giants 0||Dave Stewart|
|Super Bowl LXXXVII, 1990||Cincinnati Reds 7, Oakland Athletics 0||Eric Davis|
|Super Bowl LXXXVIII, 1991||Minnesota Twins 5, Atlanta Braves 2||Chuck Knoblauch|
|Super Bowl LXXXIX, 1992||Atlanta Braves 3, Toronto Blue Jays 1*||Damon Berryhill|
|Super Bowl XC, 1993||Toronto Blue Jays 8, Philadelphia Phillies 5||Devon White|
|No Super Bowl|
|Super Bowl XCI, 1995||Atlanta Braves 3, Cleveland Indians 2||Greg Maddux|
|Super Bowl XCII, 1996||Atlanta Braves 12, New York Yankees 1*||Andruw Jones|
|Super Bowl XCIII, 1997||Florida Marlins 7, Cleveland Indians 4||Moises Alou|
|Super Bowl XCIV, 1998||New York Yankees 9, San Diego Padres 6||Tino Martinez|
|Super Bowl XCV, 1999||New York Yankees 4, Atlanta Braves 1||Orlando Hernandez|
|Super Bowl XCVI, 2000||New York Yankees 4, New York Mets 3 (12)||Jose Vizcaino|
|Super Bowl XCVII, 2001||Arizona Diamondbacks 9, New York Yankees 1||Luis Gonzalez|
|Super Bowl XCVIII, 2002||San Francisco Giants 4, Anaheim Angels 3*||J.T. Snow|
|Super Bowl XCIX, 2003||Florida Marlins 3, New York Yankees 2||Juan Pierre|
|Super Bowl C, 2004||Boston Red Sox 11, St. Louis Cardinals 9||David Ortiz|
|Super Bowl CI, 2005||Chicago White Sox 5, Houston Astros 3||Bobby Jenks|
|Super Bowl CII, 2006||St. Louis Cardinals 7, Detroit Tigers 2||Albert Pujols|
|Super Bowl CIII, 2007||Boston Red Sox 13, Colorado Rockies 1||Josh Beckett|
|Super Bowl CIV, 2008||Philadelphia Phillies 3, Tampa Bay Rays 2||Chase Utley|
|Super Bowl CV, 2009||Philadelphia Phillies 6, New York Yankees 1*||Cliff Lee|
|Super Bowl CVI, 2010||San Francisco Giants 11, Texas Rangers 7||Freddy Sanchez|
|Super Bowl CVII, 2011||St. Louis Cardinals 3, Texas Rangers 2||Lance Berkman|
|Super Bowl CVIII, 2012||San Francisco Giants 8, Detroit Tigers 3||Pablo Sandoval|
|Super Bowl CIX, 2013||Boston Red Sox 8, St. Louis Cardinals 1||Jon Lester|
|Super Bowl CX, 2014||San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1||Hunter Pence|
|Super Bowl CXI, 2015||Kansas City Royals 5, New York Mets (14)||Ben Zobrist|
|Super Bowl CXII, 2016||Cleveland Indians 6, Chicago Cubs 0*||Corey Kluber|
Alternative history abounds! Now for a far-flung smattering of observations regarding the triumphs and tragedies listed above ...
- Things get interesting pretty much right away in 1907. Game 1 of the World Series that year ended in 3-3 tie after 12 innings because of darkness. That means we'll consider the early innings of Game 2 to be continuation of Game 1. The Cubs and Tigers each plated a run in the second inning of Game 2, and it wasn't until the fourth that the Cubs pushed across another pair of runs for the win. So the Cubs took the Super Bowl in a total of 16 innings.
- The outcome of Super Bowl XXIV now means that Babe Ruth has won a Super Bowl MVP for his hitting and for his pitching. He pitched himself to a Super Bowl MVP in 1918 as a member of the Red Sox.
- Super Bowl XVI: Yep, the Black Sox still lose. So much for a chance at dodging dark baseball history.
- Super Bowl XX, 1923: That's right -- Casey Stengel, Super Bowl MVP.
- Not only did Super Bowl XXI in 1924 span 12 taut innings, but Art Nehf and Walter Johnson each went the distance. Imagine witnessing that in the modern era of pitcher usage. This reversal of fortune also means that Johnson never gets his ring -- until he does, one year later.
- Yes, the Cubs still lose in 1929, but at least under the Super Bowl format they're spared the indignity of blowing an 8-0 lead in the seventh inning, which is exactly what they did in Game 4 of the '29 World Series.
- The Yankees dominate the Cubs in the 1932 Super Bowl, and Babe Ruth's "called shot," which may or may not have happened in Game 3 of the World Series that year, never comes to pass.
- Super Bowl XXXII, 1935: Note that in this alternate reality, the Cubs' curse does not span back to 1908. This also means that Goose Goslin's series-clinching walk-off single in Game 6 never happens.
- Note further that in this alternate reality that the Cubs have moved their curse date up to 1945.
- Super Bowl XLVI in 1949 brings us our first Super Bowl walk-off home run. The Yankees' Tommy Henrich makes history when he takes a 2-0 fastball from Don Newcombe over the right field wall of the Superdome. Yep, definitely happened in the Superdome.
- In 1951, we have a more fitting conclusion to the Shot Heard 'Round the World. In this world, Bobby Thomson's Giants best the Yankees in the Super Bowl.
- Brooklyn winds up winning its first title in 1952 rather than 1955. As well, the Yankees in Super Bowl World don't wind up winning five championships in a row from 1949-53, as they did in real life.
- In 1954, pinch-hitter Dusty Rhodes gives us our second Super Bowl walk-off homer, as he clouts the game-winner in the 10th. Of course, we might not have gotten to that point if Willie Mays hadn't made his legendary catch of Vic Wertz's blast in the eighth ...
- Brooklyn wins a second championship with their triumph in the 1956 Super Bowl. Also, Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series never happens.
- The Pirates win Super Bowl LVII in 1960, and Bill Mazeroski takes MVP laurels. No longer, though, does Maz get to hit his Game 7 walk-off.
- In 1962, Whitey Ford becomes the first and still only three-time Super Bowl MVP.
- With the conclusion of Super Bowl LXXI, baseball has now seen just three different champions over the last nine years.
- Storied Game 6 of the 1975 World Series drifts away into the ether. Instead, the Red Sox thump the Reds in Super Bowl LXXII.
- The Cardinals top the Royals in Super Bowl LXXXII. Breathe easy, Don Denkinger. Your controversial blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series doesn't happen.
- Kirk Gibson's home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is already one of the most towering moments in baseball history. In this world, though, Gibson's clout not only won the game, it won the belt and the title. As such, in the world of the MLB Super Bowl that home run may be the biggest moment in the history of the game. At this point, we're honor-bound to roll tape ...
- Since Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols each hit three home runs in a World Series game but did not do so in a Game 1, Pablo Sandoval's three bombs in Super Bowl CVIII stands as the record.
- Their loss to the Royals in 2015 drops the Mets to 0-5 in Super Bowl play. If you're tired of the Mets rooter's penchant for self-pity, then just imagine what it would be like if they had no rings at all.
- No, the Cubs do not end their title drought against the Indians in Super Bowl CXII. The consoling knowledge, as noted, is that the curse now goes back to '45 instead of '08.
That's is all just a sampling, of course. Other moments have been lost (hello, Bill Buckner), but others have grown in importance.
Anyhow, this is what it would be like if baseball had a Super Bowl. Baseball doesn't have a Super Bowl, of course, but people search for things related to the Super Bowl. That's what we've been doing at marathon length -- giving the people what they weren't looking for.
Congratulations to Damon Berryhill.