Happy October sports fans! It’s time for some baseball, the grand old game and the true gentleman’s pastime!
Inspector Pumphead hits a homer!
Specifically, it’s time for the MLB playoffs in the run up to the World Series later this month. The AL Wild Card Game is tonight, while the NL Wild Card game is tomorrow (Wednesday). If you’ve seen those incessant commercials, you know that “OCTOBER. MEANS. BASEBALL.” The baseball regular season is long (162 games!) and grueling but waiting for the playoffs is the hardest part.
But now, the playoffs are here and that means every pitch, every hit and every out means so much more. 10 teams enter and only one team will emerge victorious.
A quick reminder on the format of these games, which are the same in both leagues. A one game wild card playoff will determine which team advances to the LDS to play the league’s top seed, while the other two division winners face off. The winners of the LDS advance to the LCS and the winners of the LCS advance to the World Series. Each LDS is a best of five, while both the LCS and World Series are best of seven.
See here for the full TV schedule and how to watch: https://sports.yahoo.com/mlb-postseason-schedule-heres-watch-192246831.html
Let’s dive into the previews.
AL Wild Card Game: Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees
Since 2002, the Twins have played 123 games against the Yankees… and have won 33 of them. In case you’re not good at math, I can tell you that is not a very good record.
Still, anything can happen in a one-game situation so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Twins win. Minnesota is one of the best stories of this MLB season, having performed one of the largest turnarounds in sports history after going 59-103 in 2016. The Twins are the first team to ever reach the postseason after losing at least 100 games the previous year.
As for the Yankees? The team won 91 games in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Aaron Judge has become a Paul Bunyon-esque figure and the brightest young star in the game. Judge who is quite good at smashing the ball, having hit 52 home runs (or “dongers”) over the course of the season, also recorded a staggering 127 walks.
Everyone knows the famous New York saying “eyy, I’m walkin’ here!”, and that was Judge this season.
Cleveland Indians vs. Wild Card Winners
Cleveland has set the modern baseball record of consecutive games won during this season with 22. The Indians also have perhaps the best pitching staff in recent memory. They are heavy favorites to win the AL.
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
The Astros might just be the most overlooked 101-winning team in MLB history. Houston’s hot start at the beginning of the season was overshadowed by the Dodgers’ even hotter start. The Astros leveled off and continued to play good baseball throughout the season but by then all the attention was on Cleveland’s winning streak. With MVP favorite Jose Altuve leading the way, the Astros have chance to retake control of the narrative.
The Red Sox are mostly known for having the most obnoxious fan-base in baseball. Everyone else is hoping for Boston to lose quickly and make way for better, more interesting teams.
NL Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies @ Arizona Diamondbacks
Pity the poor Rockies and Diamondbacks. Both franchises are relatively new, and despite numerous on-field successes, have struggled to capture the imagination of the greater baseball public. In 2017, both teams were two of the best in the NL – but played in the West and were left in the dust by the Dodgers juggernaut. Now they play each other in a one game, do or die scenario where the winner gets the privilege of playing the sacrificial lamb to, who else, the Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Wild Card Winners
The best team that money can buy, had one of the wildest MLB seasons in recent memory. The team roared out of the gate and just would not stop winning. By mid-July they were 66-29 and already drawing comparisons to some of the most dominant teams in history, such as the ‘84 Tigers, ‘84 Mets and ‘98 Yankees. At one point, they had won a ridiculous 44 out of 51 games.
Then in late August, it happened. The Dodgers lost one game, the another and then another after that. Over a two-and-a-half week stretch, the Dodgers lost 16 of the 17 games, which included 11 in a row at one point. It looked like they were in danger of free fallin’ out into nothing.
It was one of the worst stretches in franchise history and the Dodgers suddenly looked like one of the worst teams in the majors. It was baffling and although the team eventually straighten out the ship and finished a more than respectable 104-58. This losing streak cast a pall over what was once an unreservedly joyous season and it has to linger in the back of the mind for weary Dodgers fans.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
Hey remember these guys? 2016 sure was fun!
After the historic and long awaited World Series triumph, the Cubs seemed to be suffering from a bit of a hangover. And who could blame them? They won the franchise’s first championship in over a 100 years, so of course a little “basking in the afterglow” would happen. Still, the team deserves credit for holding off the Brewers and reestablishing themselves as the class of the NL Central. Now they can pursue another championship without all the historical baggage.
And the Nats? As always, injuries seem to be holding them back from reaching their true potential. After missing much of the season, Bryce Harper is reportedly back for the playoffs and Max Scherzer’s hamstring injury apparently isn’t a big deal… but man, is there a bigger bummer of a team or what? Washington has had “name” talent for so many years but the organization has never been able to put it all together in the same year to make a defining run. It’s hard not to feel like the window has closed.
Anyway, we will have to wait and see who takes the title. Go Yankees!
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