It’s the most wonderful time of the year, depending on where you live. If you’re in Oakland, Los Angeles, Tampa, or New York, you are having a pretty good time right now, and the possibilities are just beginning. If you’re in Cleveland, Chicago, or Philadelphia, you’re just glad that the painful slog to the end is over. Oh, and if you’re in Detroit, Miami, or Kansas City, someone let them know that baseball season is over, because they probably haven’t been paying attention since June. Plenty will be made over the offseason about those who failed or disappointed this year, so let’s focus ahead to those who have made the cut to play for a World Series title, and some of the stories to watch:
The American League Wild Card: The Moneyball Matchup
The godfather of “Moneyball” faces off against the latest team to be made in his image as the Tampa Bay Rays meet the Oakland A’s in a one game playoff, despite both teams winning at least 96 games in the regular season. This matchup has all the makings of a classic, with both teams featuring high performing bullpens, crafty managers, and an analytical front office on both sides. The impact goes beyond the game itself though, as whomever comes out on top will be the torchbearer for the modern “analytics” based team building, and will be watched carefully as they advance through the postseason.
The Twins Look to Shake the Ghosts of Yankees Past
The Minnesota Twins are set to begin the divisional series against the powerhouse New York Yankees. Sound familiar? It should. This meeting marks the sixth time since 2003 that the Twin Cities have clashed with the Big Apple, and let’s just say that the results have been… predictable:
- 2003 ALDS: Yankees won 3-1
- 2004 ALDS: Yankees won 3-1
- 2009 ALDS: Yankees won 3-0
- 2010 ALDS: Yankees won 3-0
- 2017 Wild Card Game: Yankees Won 8-4
This year, the Twins look to finally get over the hump and take down the Bronx Bombers in the postseason for the first time since moving to Minnesota in 1961. Armed with a historically good offense, they will have their hands full with the highest rated bullpen in the game. The table is set, but will revenge be served?
The Baby Braves Look to Make Their Mark
The last time the Atlanta Braves won a playoff series, Ronald Acuna Jr. was six years old, 50 Cent had the number one single in the country, and Alex Rodriguez won the AL MVP. Since then, they have tried and failed an absurd 8 times, only furthering the “Atlanta can’t win in October” narrative that spilled over from their dynastic decade in the 1990’s. The Braves face off against the St. Louis Cardinals, a rematch of the controversial “Infield Fly” Wild Card game BECAUSE FOR SOME STUPID F*#KING REASON, EVEN WHEN THE SHORT STOP IS HALFWAY UP THE DAMN OUTFIELD…… ::deep breaths, clears throat::… in 2012. This matchup is subject to change, however, with the Brewers late season surge, but regardless of their opponent, Ozzie Albies and the Braves will look to get the monkey off their back and finally celebrate a postseason series victory.
For the Dodgers, There’s Nowhere to Go but Down
The team under the most pressure in this postseason seems won 105 games in the regular season, had no real challenger in their division, and boasts one of the most formidable rosters of any playoff team this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers are attempting to take home a World Series title after losing the last two fall classics in very different fashions. It was an epic seven game slugfest in 2017, followed by a flat performance against the Red Sox the next season. While it’s true that 2019 is a new season, and one could say the wind is at their backs, the sense of urgency in LA is very real. On paper, there’s not a lot in terms of notable free agents after this season, and it’s not as though the team is going to collapse or rebuild next year if they don’t take home a ring, but for many, the Dodgers and the phrase “wait until next year” is a painful memory that many would rather not invoke. For the Dodgers, it’s not so much that the window is closing, as what’s flying out of it while it’s open…