In 2002, the Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants four games to three in the World Series. This was the last time teams from the same state faced each other in the World Series.
It also happened when the Yankees defeated the Mets in 2000, and back to back years in 1988, when the Dodgers beat the A's in five games, and 1989 when the A's swept the Giants.
Seems like a fairly routine occurrence.
Not for Ohio, however, as the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians have never faced each other in the Fall Classic.
It did almost happen in 1995. The Tribe defeated the Mariners in the ALCS to advance, but the Reds were swept by the Braves in the NLCS.
That is as close as the two teams have come to competing for the championship. But with the recent success of both teams early in 2012, could this finally be the year that both Ohio teams are featured on baseball's biggest stage?
Obviously, the season doesn't end in May. Reds and Indians fans learned that the hard way last year, after both teams got off to fast starts, only to crumble down the stretch. But this year, there are reasons to believe that both teams could continue their success deep into the calender.
Although the Indians have a 26-18 record and a four game lead in the AL Central, a lot of their key players haven't performed to the level they are capable of. Assuming designated hitter Travis Hafner can get healthy, you have to figure he will improve on his .242 batting average and .439 slugging percentage. Also, first baseman Casey Kotchman has posted a slash line of .222/.298/.341 this season compared to his career numbers of .266/.334/.395.
On top of that, Cleveland is just 17th in the majors in team batting average, and 19th in earned run average. These aren't exactly gaudy numbers, but they are still eight games over .500. Just think what they can do if people start getting hot.
The Indians have gotten good contributions as usual from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who has hit .300 with five homers and 19 runs batted in, and closer Chris Perez, who has been phenomenal with a 2.79 ERA and 16 saves in 17 chances. They have also received a pleasant surprise from starter Derek Lowe, who is 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA.
Shin-Soo Choo has provided a shot in the arm since being moved to the leadoff spot. In ten games at the top of the order, Choo has hit .350 with four doubles, two stolen bases and a 1.047 OPS. That kind of production from your leadoff guy is very important.
If Manny Acta's club can continue to get quality performances from these players, as well as improvements from other players, they could be a very dangerous team.
The Reds on the other hand got off to a horrid start offensively, but have come around as of late. After starting 4-8 the Redlegs have gone 8-1-2 in their last eleven series.
Pitching has been the key for Dusty Baker's squad, as they have put up a team ERA of 3.38, good for sixth in the majors. Starter Johnny Cueto has been a big part of that, as he has developed into the ace the Reds have been lacking over the years. The young right hander is 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA. In the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman has been nearly untouchable, going 4-0 with no earned runs given up and 43 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched. The Cuban Missile has successfully converted two saves since being named the closer last week.
The one consistent factor on offense for the Reds has been first baseman Joey Votto. Votto is again putting up All-Star worthy numbers this season, with a .295 average, seven homers and 28 RBI. Votto is fourth in the majors with a .447 on base percentage, but has lacked any type of protection in the lineup. The Reds badly need more consistency from right fielder Jay Bruce, who has been the definition of streaky over his career. After hitting .296 with seven homers and 17 RBI in April, Bruce has hit just .216 with three homers and 11 driven in.
In order for the Reds to improve on being 12th in the NL in runs and 14th in average, Bruce will have to prolong his hot steaks and minimize his slumps, because he is such a crucial part of that lineup.
With all of this in mind, Cincinnati is just half a game behind the Cardinals, who are just trying to keep players off the disabled list these days.
All roads point to some very entertaining AL and NL Central division races. And as we all learned from the Cardinals World Series run last year, it is not always about who the best team is, but who gets hot at the right time. Should Cleveland and Cincinnati stay in the race and get hot in September, we could be looking at an all Ohio World Series come October.
Jordan Holland is a Marietta Times sports reporter and can be reached at 376-5449