The 2022 World Series is a classic case of overwhelming favorite against plucky underdog.
The Houston Astros, the No. 1 seed in the American League playoffs, go into Friday’s Game 1 tipped by most, including bookmakers, to win the franchise’s second World Series crown.
However, the Philadelphia Phillies have already upset the odds three times en route to the Fall Classic, entering the National League playoffs as the lowest seed of the six teams.
The Astros, who have now reached the World Series for the fourth time in six years, are rightly considered favorites after going undefeated in the playoffs, sweeping the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.
Astros pitcher Justin Verlander says the team is focused on creating a dynasty.
“I sure would like to cement another championship to really drive that point home, and here we are with a chance to do that,” he told reporters.
“But, yeah, we’ve obviously been one of the best franchises in the history of the game since this run we’ve been on.”
However, the two previous teams to sweep through the Division Series and Conference championships have gone on to lose the World Series: the Kansas City Royals in 2014 Royals and the Colorado Rockies in 2007.
Houston will want to put right the heartbreak of its two previous visits to the World Series, where it lost to the Washington Nationals in 2019 and the Atlanta Braves in 2021. The Astros’ only previous World Series win came when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
That victory, however, is marred in controversy.
Following the win, Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane fired then manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after the MLB had suspended them for a season without pay for a sign-stealing scandal.
Major League Baseball found the club illegally created a system that decoded and communicated the opposing teams’ pitching signs during their 2017 championship season.
The team forfeited its regular first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts and paid a $5 million fine.
The Astros kept their title – but, to many non-Houston fans, it will remain shrouded in scandal.
“The Phillies are good at a lot of things, but everything they’re good at – the rotation, the lineup, the bullpen – the Astros are just a little better at, except on defense, where the Astros are a LOT better,” MLB analyst Mike Petriello told MLB.com.
But after pulling off playoff wins against the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres, the Phillies and their fans will be feeling justifiably confident of pulling off a fourth and final upset.
Victory would give Philadelphia a third World Series title, with the franchise’s last coming back in 2008.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson has urged his team to stay calm and not let the situation overwhelm them.
“Stay loose, really, that’s what it gets down to,” he told reporters.
“It is the World Series, it’s a big stage, but they have been loose the entire time through this whole process.
“They haven’t got caught up in the moment, they have stayed in the moment, and they just got to carry on the same way and just go out, put your game on autopilot, and just go play.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, superstitious fans quickly began talking about a potential global financial disaster after the Phillies had booked their place in the World Series.
When the Phillies last won the World Series in 2008, the world was experiencing the Great Recession and in 1980, their victory was followed by a twin recession. Further back in 1929, the Philadelphia Athletics’ World Series win was followed by the Wall Street Crash.
It may come as some comfort then to the more superstitious baseball fan that this is one of the most lopsided match-ups in World Series history, according to MLB.com, featuring the second-largest regular season win disparity (19) of all time.
“I picked against the Phillies to make the playoffs. I picked against the Phillies to win the Wild Card Series. I picked against the Phillies to win the NLDS. I picked against the Phillies to win the NLCS. I’m not going to make the same mistake five times,” New York Mets writer Anthony DiComo told MLB.com.
Astro-nomical ticket pricing
Overall ticket sales for the World Series have increased more than 145% since Monday on StubHub, a StubHub spokesperson told CNN.
“Excitement is already strong for the World Series, especially in Philadelphia, where pent-up demand for the Phillies’ first championship appearance since 2009 is reflected in what we are seeing fans are willing to pay compared to the games in Houston,” Adam Budelli, spokesperson for StubHub, said.
The cheapest ticket on StubHub for Game 1 in Houston is $435 and the most expensive is $16,597. For Game 3, the first of the series in Philadelphia, the cheapest ticket is $560 and the most expensive is $48,345.
World Series schedule
Game 1: Friday, October 28
Game 2: Saturday, October 29
Game 3: Monday, October 31
Game 4: Tuesday, November 1
Game 5 (if needed): Wednesday, November 2
Game 6 (if needed): Friday, November 4
Game 7 (if needed): Saturday, November 5
All games start at 8:03 PM ET
Where to watch
In the United States, the World Series will air exclusively on FOX, as well as through digital streaming services such as DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV, Hulu+ and YouTube TV.
In Canada, the World Series will be shown on Sportsnet; in the United Kingdom, it will be available to watch on BT Sport; and in Australia, on Foxtel and ESPN.