October baseball returns: MLB Wild Card Series recap

October baseball has finally arrived and fans across the world are ecstatic in anticipation for their favorite ballclub to hopefully get hot at the right time.

“October baseball is just gritty, it’s cold, you’re seeing starting pitchers come out of the bullpen. Adam Mascio, ’21, said. “What is tough is that there’s not packed stadiums with fans but it’s still exciting.”

For the twentieth straight season in Major League Baseball, the World Series will not feature a back-to-back champion due to last year’s champs, the Washington Nationals, failing to reach the postseason.

The MLB managed to play a regular season consisting of only a mere 60 games. There originally were 16 franchises playoff-bound and eager to hoist the World Series trophy.

“I love the new format of the playoffs because it allows for more teams to compete for the World Series which then keeps fans invested in the season for a longer duration,” Sam Craig, ’22, said.

For the first time in Major League Baseball history, the regular season featured new rule changes. One of these rules will continue into the postseason which is the usage of a universal designated hitter. The rule that was applied for the regular season but will not be utilized in the playoffs is having a runner on second base for the start of an inning once the game reaches extra innings.

“Being a pitcher myself, I would like to see them hit also but I understand that the universal DH is better for the marketability of the sport,” Nick Tarasi, ’21, said.

Tarasi also gave his thoughts regarding the automatic base runner on second base for extra innings rule.

“I don’t think that should’ve been a rule put in place, to begin with,” Tarasi said. “I definitely think having that rule in the playoffs would be unjust.”

Shane Bieber, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, who has recently crowned the Triple Crown Award for leading the American League in earned run average, strikeouts, and wins aimed to defeat the number five seeded New York Yankees. The Yankees are known for the long ball with the consistent power they possess throughout their lineup through hitters such as Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela and Aaron Hicks. The Yankees’ ace, Gerrit Cole, set up the pathway to the World Series for New York as they took down the Indians in two games.

An outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, Marcell Ozuna nearly achieved the rare Triple Crown award in the National League as he fell just short of the league lead for batting average but did crank the most home runs and runs batted in. Ozuna, alongside fellow stars Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr., lead the Braves past the Cincinnati Reds in the first round. This would be the Braves first world series title since 1995.

The top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays of the American League faced off against the talented but youthful Toronto Blue Jays. The top end of the Rays’ pitching rotation features stars Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell and Charlie Morton which lead them to a win of the series in two ball games.

The Houston Astros opposed the Minnesota Twins in the first round. The Twins have now lost 18 straight postseason games as the Astros wiped them out in two games. The Astros, who were scolded this past year by fans for cheating their way to the 2017 World Series, just barely skimped into the postseason with a record of 29-31 but they are staying hot in the Division Series against the Athletics.

The Chicago White Sox traveled to Oakland to take on the Athletics in a matchup that featured a lot of power swinging hitters. It was one of the most evenly matched series on paper and lived up to that as the Athletics won in a three game series.

The Milwaukee Brewers played the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers barely squeaked into the postseason and suffered the difficult task of taking on one of the most talented ball clubs in the MLB. The Dodgers have minimal weaknesses to their team and have a lineup that features all-stars from the top to bottom. The Dodgers also paid MVP-caliber player Mookie Betts this offseason who typically bats leadoff for them. Betts’ 12-year record-breaking deal worth $365 million allows him to be the face of the Dodgers franchise until 2032 at the least. The Dodgers took care of business with the Brewers in two games.

The St. Louis Cardinals squared off against the San Diego Padres in round one. The Padres have not tasted the postseason since 2006 and are now a contender for the National League pennant after beating the Cardinals in three games.

The most intriguing matchup of the first round of the playoffs featured the Miami Marlins traveling north to oppose the Chicago Cubs at famous Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ offense had been stale for months so they tried to rely on their ace, Yu Darvish, to take care of business for them. The Marlins who served as the underdog had not reached the postseason since they won the World Series in 2003, and now they will oppose the Braves in the second round after defeating the Cubs.

October baseball sure is a great time of the year and is always filled with electricity and tears.