It began in 1969, when the American League was reorganized into two divisions, East and West. The winners of each division played each other in a best-of-five series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven. In 1994, the league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and a wild-card team advancing to a best-of-five playoff round, known as the American League Division Series or ALDS. The winners of that round then advanced to the best-of-seven ALCS. This is the system currently in use.
The ALCS and NLCS, since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2-3-2 format: Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home field advantage, and Games 3, 4, and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not. The series concludes when one team records its fourth win. Home field advantage is given to the team that has the better record, unless that team happens to be the Wild Card team. In that case, the other team gets home field advantage, because by rule the Wild Card team is never allowed home field advantage in a Division Series or LCS. In the event that both teams have identical records in the regular season, home field advantage goes to the team that has the winning head-to-head record.
A Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the outstanding player in the ALCS. No MVP award is given for Division Series play. The William Harridge Trophy is awarded to the ALCS winner.
|1969||Baltimore Orioles||Minnesota Twins||3-0||Dick Hall becomes the first pitcher to record a win in League Championship Series play||NBC|
|1970||Baltimore Orioles||Minnesota Twins||3-0||NBC|
|1971||Baltimore Orioles||Oakland Athletics||3-0||NBC|
|1972||Oakland Athletics||Detroit Tigers||3-2||NBC|
|1973||Oakland Athletics||Baltimore Orioles||3-2||NBC|
|1974||Oakland Athletics||Baltimore Orioles||3-1||NBC|
|1975||Boston Red Sox||Oakland Athletics||3-0||NBC|
|1976||New York Yankees||Kansas City Royals||3-2||Chris Chambliss hits a walk-off home run in Game 5.||ABC|
|1977||New York Yankees||Kansas City Royals||3-2||The visiting Yankees score three runs in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 on their way to the second of three straight World Series appearances.||NBC|
|1978||New York Yankees||Kansas City Royals||3-1||George Brett sets an ALCS single-game record with three home runs in Game 4 and sets the full series record with two triples (a mark since equaled by Kenny Lofton)||ABC|
|1979||Baltimore Orioles||California Angels||3-1||NBC|
|1980||Kansas City Royals||New York Yankees||3-0||Frank White, Kansas City||The Royals sweep the Yankees to become the first AL expansion team to win a pennant.||ABC|
|1981||New York Yankees||Oakland Athletics||3-0||Graig Nettles, New York||Professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson debuts "the wave" during Game 3 in Oakland.||NBC|
|1982||Milwaukee Brewers||California Angels||3-2||Fred Lynn, California||First LCS ever to match two expansion teams. The city of Milwaukee's first pennant since 1958 (that one being won by the Braves).||ABC|
|1983||Baltimore Orioles||Chicago White Sox||3-1||Mike Boddicker, Baltimore||The White Sox' first playoff appearance since 1959 is stopped cold by the eventual World Series champions.||NBC|
|1984||Detroit Tigers||Kansas City Royals||3-0||Kirk Gibson, Detroit||Paced by Gibson's hitting, the Tigers sweep the Royals en route to a World Championship.||ABC|
|1985||Kansas City Royals||Toronto Blue Jays||4-3||George Brett, Kansas City||The first best-of-seven ALCS. Down 3 games to 1, Kansas City comes back, including two road wins. Jim Sundberg breaks Game 7 wide open with a 3-RBI triple.||NBC|
|1986||Boston Red Sox||California Angels||4-3||Marty Barrett, Boston||Angels are one out (one strike) from the pennant in Game 5 when Dave Henderson hits a go-ahead home run against Donnie Moore. The Angels tie the game but the Red Sox win in extra innings, then take the next two at home.||ABC|
|1987||Minnesota Twins||Detroit Tigers||4-1||Gary Gaetti, Minnesota||The Twins advanced to their first World Series since 1965 despite having the weakest record of any of the 4 division champions in 1987.||NBC|
|1988||Oakland Athletics||Boston Red Sox||4-0||Dennis Eckersley, Oakland||Eckersley sets an unbreakable record with 4 saves in the series.||ABC|
|1989||Oakland Athletics||Toronto Blue Jays||4-1||Rickey Henderson, Oakland||Henderson's 8 steals (in just 5 games) are an ALCS record, but the big story is the mammoth home run José Canseco blasts into the highest deck of the SkyDome.||NBC|
|1990||Oakland Athletics||Boston Red Sox||4-0||Dave Stewart, Oakland||Roger Clemens gets ejected in Game 4, putting the nail in Boston's coffin.||CBS|
|1991||Minnesota Twins||Toronto Blue Jays||4-1||Kirby Puckett, Minnesota||CBS|
|1992||Toronto Blue Jays||Oakland Athletics||4-2||Roberto Alomar, Toronto||MVP Alomar hits a crucial 9th-inning home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 4. The Jays become the first non-U.S. team to win a pennant.||CBS|
|1993||Toronto Blue Jays||Chicago White Sox||4-2||Dave Stewart, Toronto||The Blue Jays knocked off the White Sox in 6 games en route to their second consecutive World Championship.||CBS|
|1994||Not held due to labor dispute.|
|1995||Cleveland Indians||Seattle Mariners||4-2||Orel Hershiser, Cleveland||In the first-ever LCS appearance for both teams, Hershiser became the first player to win LCS MVP awards in both leagues as Cleveland won their first AL Pennant since 1954.||ABC (Games 1-2), NBC (Games 3-6)|
|1996||New York Yankees||Baltimore Orioles†||4-1||Bernie Williams, New York||Aided by fan Jeffrey Maier, who reached over the right field wall to pull a fly ball into the stands and out of the reach of Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco, Derek Jeter hit a game-tying home run in Game 1, then Williams hit the walk-off shot in extra innings.||NBC|
|1997||Cleveland Indians||Baltimore Orioles||4-2||Marquis Grissom, Cleveland||An 11th inning Home Run by Tony Fernández in Game 6 propelled Cleveland to its second pennant in three years.||FOX|
|1998||New York Yankees||Cleveland Indians||4-2||David Wells, New York||The Yankees defeat of the Indians in 6 games would be the first of four consecutive AL Pennants for the Yankees.||NBC|
|1999||New York Yankees||Boston Red Sox†||4-1||Orlando Hernández, New York||Bernie Williams' walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 1 sent the Yankees on their way to their second consecutive AL Pennant.||FOX|
|2000||New York Yankees||Seattle Mariners†||4-2||David Justice, New York||Justice's towering homer off Arthur Rhodes in Game 6 ensured the first Subway Series since 1956. Roger Clemens set an ALCS record with 15 strikeouts in a one-hit shutout of Seattle in Game 4.||NBC|
|2001||New York Yankees||Seattle Mariners||4-1||Andy Pettitte, New York||Although the Mariners boasted a record 116 wins in the regular season, the Yankees wiped them out in 5 games. Alfonso Soriano hit a walk-off home run in Game 4.||FOX|
|2002||Anaheim Angels†||Minnesota Twins||4-1||Adam Kennedy, Anaheim||The series MVP hit three home runs in the deciding Game 5 despite swatting just 7 in the regular season, as the Angels won their first-ever pennant.||FOX|
|2003||New York Yankees||Boston Red Sox†||4-3||Mariano Rivera, New York||Aaron Boone hit an 11th-inning blast off Tim Wakefield to cap off an exciting Game 7. Considered by some to be the best game in the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry, it may be better known for Grady Little refusing to pull ace Pedro Martínez from the game. The series was also marred by a fight in Game 3, instigated after Pedro Martínez hit Karim Garcia in retaliation for Roger Clemens throwing a pitch near the head of Manny Ramírez. The fight was memorable for Don Zimmer's charge toward Martinez in the fracas, which Martinez was able to avoid by side-stepping Zimmer and pushing him to the ground.||FOX|
|2004||Boston Red Sox†||New York Yankees||4-3||David Ortiz, Boston||Boston becomes the first baseball team in history to win a series after losing the first three games. The series featured, among other things, two consecutive postseason blown saves by Yankee closer Mariano Rivera and two consecutive walk-off hits from Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, both in Games 4 and 5. The Red Sox' first pennant since 1986.||FOX|
|2005||Chicago White Sox||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||4-1||Paul Konerko, Chicago||After Neal Cotts worked ⅔ of an inning in a Game 1 loss, the White Sox, aided by a controversial Doug Eddings dropped third strike call in Game 2, pitched 4 complete games in a row. Konerko hit two first inning homers in Games 3 and 4. The White Sox' first pennant since 1959.||FOX|
|2006||Detroit Tigers†||Oakland Athletics||4-0||Plácido Polanco, Detroit||Magglio Ordóñez hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 to complete the sweep. Oakland also went a playoff record 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in Game 1, hitting into four double-plays.||FOX|
|2007||Boston Red Sox||Cleveland Indians||4-3||Josh Beckett, Boston||In Game 4, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramírez of Boston hit the first back-to-back-to-back home runs in LCS history. In Game 7, the tie-breaking game, the Red Sox and Indians were neck and neck, 3-2, until the 7th inning when Boston scored two more runs, and in the 8th, when they scored six more.||FOX|
|2008||Boston Red Sox† vs Tampa Bay Rays||1-0||TBD, TBD||TBS|
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