Each year when the cool weather starts to roll in from Canada, another drama is unfolding in selected baseball parks around the country. It’s time for the MLB Playoffs, which every year serve as a grand finale to another baseball season.
The fans love it; the players love it. The coaches perhaps tend to worry a bit more, but of course they love it too. There is no other event like it. This year, the race to the World Series has been especially interesting.
The ALCS Race Is Tightening Up
This year’s National League Championship Series (NLCS) and American League Championship Series (ALCS) are on now, which means that MLB is down to its final four teams contending for the MLB Championship. The last four teams this year are a good and varied mix of American baseball. In the ALCS, the embattled Houston Astros are still there despite all efforts to keep them down after the recent scandals over accusations of signal stealing, involving, among other things, banging on a garbage can.
However, the Astros, led by quality players like Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, are still loaded with talent, have excellent coaching now with Dusty Baker at the helm and they have clawed their way back into the ALCS once again.
Few people picked the Tampa Bay Rays to still be around for the ALCS. Not only did the Rays show up, they beat the mighty Houston Astros the first 3 games out of the box and scared the heck out of the Houston squad, which has now come back to win games 4 and 5. After leading 3 games to none, the Rays defense and Houston’s bats have come within one game of tying Tampa Bay and sending the series to a game seven.
The names on the Tampa Bay roster are mostly unknown to the general public. Even most baseball fans couldn’t name three Rays players if asked. Over in the Houston dugout reside some of the best know players in baseball like George Springer, Carlos Correa, who was the AL rookie of the year in 2015 and Yuli Gurriel from Cuba.
This time it was Carlos Correa who hit a walk off homer in the ninth inning to keep the Astros alive with a chance to tie the series today and force a Game 7, becoming just the second team in baseball history to rally from o-3 down to force a Game 7, joining the 2004 Red Sox, which went all the way. The Astros were only the fourth team to reach a Game 6 after losing the first three. The 1998 Braves and 1999 Mets the other two.
The Braves Need One More
Over on the National League side we find a lot of familiar faces. The LA Dodgers are the richest team in baseball, both financially and personnel wise. The Dodgers are in the mix every year but somehow always manage to fall just a run or two short of their goal, which is nothing less than winning a World Series title for the first time since 1988, for the team and players. They have a chance once again, but just barely.
The Dodgers are facing an Atlanta Braves squad, which consists of a good mix of veteran and young players and they have built up a confidence in each other that could very well take them all the way to win the ALCS and move on to the World Series to face the winners of the Astros and Tampa Bay series. The Braves are trying to reach their first World Series since 1999, when they got to the Fall Classic five times in the decade, but winning just once, in 1995.
After scoring a record breaking 11 runs in the first inning of Game 3 and beating the Atlanta Braves 15-3, the Dodgers once again faltered and the Braves took their revenge in Game 4, via home runs, winning 10-2 and knocking out Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the process.
Game 5 is on today and the Dodgers are looking at elimination once again as long as those high-priced bats do not come to life once again and save the day.