The I-95 Series
In snapping up their third World Series championship since 1966, the Baltimore Orioles proved once again that in the final analysis basics are as important as money spent on free agents and power hitters. Saying that is not to take anything from the scrappy Philadelphia Phillies, who lost to the Birds. This, after all, was the Phillies' second series appearance in the past three years, following a world championship in 1980. But it is to recognize why one TV commentator momentarily referred to the Phillies as the Cincinnati Reds, since three of the Phillies' best players - Rose, Morgan, and Perez - were all acquired at considerable expense from that Midwestern team.
What makes the Orioles' win so impressive is that it was done with such consistency. Baltimore lost the first game. Then the team stalked back to take the next four. Winning four in a row like that after an initial defeat has happened only three times in World Series play, the last time back in the 1960s.
Will this five-game '83 series be remembered as one of baseball's greats? Probably not. It was, after all, an ''I-95'' series - involving two teams based less than 100 miles apart linked by the same Interstate highway route. So the series probably didn't capture the nation's attention the way some of the more transcontinental East Coast-West Coast linkups have in recent years.
But the series does remind all Americans once again about the roots and staying power of baseball. Look back to those first two decades of the World Series, after the turn of the century, and there is a Philadelphia team, time after time. Look at the statistics of the past two decades and there is Baltimore, hustling through six World Series. Philadelphia and Baltimore. Two essentially working-class communities. Older cities. Proud baseball cities. Yet, two cities that have undergone substantial renovation in recent years. In that sense, it seems only fitting that the 1983 World Series should have pitted - and thus honored - these two US communities.