Path to the ALCS:
New York (34-22) won the AL East first half and Oakland (37-23) won the AL West first half ALDS: New York over Milwaukee (3 games to 2); Oakland over Kansas City (3 games to 2)
These two franchises had accounted for five of the seven World Series championships from 1972-78, and in contrast to those appearances during the '70s, both clubs had to play a best-of-five Division Series this time to get here, as a result of the 1981 players' strike.
The series marked the return of Billy Martin to Yankee Stadium, as Oakland's manager, after one of his multiple firings by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The Boss had the satisfaction of seeing a thorough Yankees sweep. Yankees manager Bob Lemon dropped Willie Randolph from leadoff to ninth for the ALCS, and Randolph responded in Game 3 by breaking up a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning homer to provide the only run needed in securing another AL pennant.