❚ Ranking potential World Series matchups,
After the division series, four teams remain: the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers.
The Astros hope to be the first team to repeat as champions since the New York Yankees won three in a arow from 1998 to 2000.
The Brewers seek their first title in franchise history.
The Dodgers were left at the door last October after losing to the Astros in Game 7.
And the Red Sox are looking for a return to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2013, when they won.
USA TODAY ranks the potential matchups based on sizzle and watchability.
1. Red Sox-Dodgers
The dream matchup — at least for executives at Fox Sports, which will broadcast the World Series. Ratings would be at a premium, as the clubs reside in two of the top 10 media markets in the U.S.
But aside from ratings, this series would feature two storied franchises and a great supporting cast. Fenway Park. Dodger Stadium. Chis Sale. Clayton Kershaw. Mookie Betts. Manny Machado.
And Yasiel Puig.
The Dodgers haven’t won a Series championship since Kirk Gibson limped around the bases after a home run against the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 Fall Classic. The Red Sox, a club with big expectations after 108 wins this season, could capture their second championship since 2007.
The rematch. Kershaw vs. Justin Verlander alone is worth the price of admission, for those who like pitching duels.
And to top that, it’s been 40 years since the last back-toback World Series rematch — the Yankees and Dodgers in 1977-78. Only this time, the Dodgers would be seeking revenge against the Astros.
The teams were evenly matched last season, and this year would be the same, except for a few different characters among the cast. The Astros added Gerrit Cole. The Dodgers countered with Machado at the July 31 trade deadline.
Sequels don’t always live up to expectations, but it worked out in the NBA when the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors met in the Finals in each of the last four years.
3. Red Sox-Brewers
Hey, at least the Red Sox would be in it, right? Sorry, but the small-market Brewers don’t have the national following Red Sox Nation does.
Let’s face it, the Red Sox and Brewers don’t have a rivalry — even when the Brewers resided in the American League East. In fact, they have met in the regular season only three times since 2015. The only tie of any interest between the two clubs is Travis Shaw, who came up through Boston’s farm system.
The probable starters for Game 1? Chris Sale vs. Jhoulys Chacín. Not quite the sizzle of a Sale-Kershaw matchup.
But Brewers fans don’t care. Milwaukee would have just its second chance at a World Series title in their 50-year history. The Brewers’ only appearance in the Fall Classic was in 1982, when they were an American League team dubbed with the clever nickname Harvey’s Wallbangers — after manager Harvey Kuenn and his hard-hitting sluggers including Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Ted Simmons, Gorman Thomas and future Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount.
The realignment series. Does that have a ring to it? This matchup would pit two franchises that switched leagues. The Astros went from the National League to the American in 2013, and the Brewers vice versa in 1998.
While it’s not the sexiest matchup of the four, it might be the best from a pure baseball standpoint: Astros starters vs. Brewers bullpen. George Springer-Jose Altuve-Alex Bregman-Carlos Correa vs. Lorenzo Cain-Christian YelichRyan Braun-Jesus Aguilar-Mike Moustakas. Brisket vs. Brats. Queso vs. cheese. Rodeos vs. PBR.
The Dodgers and Yasiel Puig would be licking their chops should they make a World Series return.