I have good news, Wild-Card winners! Since Major League Baseball introduced the expanded playoff format in 1994, five teams have won the World Series after qualifying for the postseason as a non-division winner. Here's a look back at those teams and how they did it.
1997 Florida Marlins (92-70) -- In just their fifth season, the '97 Marlins became the first wild card team in MLB history to win the World Series. And they did it in dramatic fashion, beating the Cleveland Indians on Edgar Renteria's two-out single in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7. Livan Hernandez, who was the winning pitcher in Games 1 and 5, was named the World Series MVP.
2002 Anaheim Angels (99-63) -- The Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants, who also qualified for the playoffs as a Wild Card, in seven games to win the first World Series in the history of the franchise. Anaheim trailed San Fran, 5-0, in the seventh inning of Game 6 before rallying to win on the strength of Troy Glaus' two-RBI double in the bottom of the eighth. Glaus was named the Series MVP.
2003 Florida Marlins (91-71) -- The Marlins slayed the mighty New York Yankees behind World Series MVP Josh Beckett, who fired a five-hit shutout in the decisive Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. It was a magical season for the Marlins, who defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, which was highlighted by the infamous Steve Bartman play in Game 6.
2004 Boston Red Sox (98-64) -- The Red Sox finished three games behind the Yankees in the A.L. East during the regular season, but got the ultimate revenge in the postseason. They recovered from a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS to win the series in seven games; it was the first time in MLB history that a team won a playoff series after losing the first three games. Boston completed its magical season by sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in four games to win the club's first World Series title since 1918.
2011 St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) -- The Cardinals completed one of the most stunning championship runs in MLB history by winning the 2011 Fall Classic over the Texas Rangers. St. Louis trailed the Atlanta Braves by as many as 10.5 games in late August before passing them at the end of the season to qualify for the playoffs. The Cardinals defeated the Rangers in seven games, but Series MVP David Freese's late-game heroics in Games 6 were the signature moment of the postseason.
* The Wild Card format originally was established for the 1994 season, when MLB expanded the number of divisions. However, the MLB strike led to the cancellation of the postseason.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees). An avid fantasy baseball player and fan of Major League Baseball, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.