By Andrew Holman | Sports Editor
Major League Baseball’s regular season is composed of a grueling 162 game schedule, and at season’s end, a single win can separate the playoff teams from the ones sitting at home thinking about next season.
For the players and teams lucky enough to clinch, October is a celebration of all the hard work they put in and all the adversity they overcame in the process. For die-hard and casual fans alike, October baseball is a spectacle well worth the time. One pitch, one swing or one catch can alter the outcome of a baseball game, and in October, one game makes all the difference.
Wild Card Round (Recap)
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays
Home field advantage proved to be monumental in the final of 20 matchups between these two teams as the Orioles and Blue Jays headed to the 11th inning still knotted at two runs each. In the 11th, a 3-run blast from Edwin Encarnacion ignited the Canadian faithful and put a dramatic end to Baltimore’s season.
San Francisco Giants at New York Mets
It didn’t take extra innings for the Giants to take down the Mets, but it came close. A 3-run homerun in the top of the 9th inning by Conor Gillaspie was the deciding blow. So far, late-inning, 3-run homeruns have been the story of the postseason.
AL Division Series
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
For 52 years, the wonderful people in Cleveland, Ohio, waited for a championship. During that span, the Indians blew a 3-1 series lead in the 2007 ALCS to a Red Sox team coached by Terry Francona. This is a chance for Cleveland to flip the script. Fresh off a championship from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Indians seem poised, under the direction of Terry Francona, to make a championship push of their own and that starts with squeaking past Boston in the ALDS. Sorry, David Ortiz — there will be no storybook ending for you, my friend.
Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Expect lots of hugs and cordial words exchanged between these two squads — eh, yeah, maybe not. Last season, the Jays took down the Rangers in a heated five-game series thanks to a memorable home run by Jose Bautista. Expect history to repeat itself: Toronto knocks out Texas (literally) and advances to the ALCS for the second straight season.
NL Division Series
Washington Nationals vs. LA Dodgers
This match up features a battle between two of baseball’s premier pitching staffs. Look through the major pitching categories, and you will find both of these teams in the top five for virtually every one of them. So, seemingly, the series will come down to hitting and fielding, and in those categories, I see the Nationals with a slight edge. Bryce Harper, it’s your time to shine.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants
Before the season began, I, along with many others predicted the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series for the first time since 1908. Just take a gander at their roster and then look at their 103-58 record. This team is good. I was all aboard the Cubs bandwagon before the season and they made me look smart, so I’ll just keep my hands and feet inside the wagon and enjoy the ride.
Cleveland Indians vs. Toronto Blue Jays
They are going to exert a lot of energy and emotion in that series with Texas and probably enough that the Indians can capitalize. Cleveland will likely get Danny Salazar back in some capacity as they try and track down the AL pennant. Combine the starting pitching, the Miller-improved bullpen and the batting lineup and this team has all the pieces to make a run. The city has waited its turn and the celebration will continue in Cleveland as the Indians will head to the World Series.
Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals
The Cubs have a lineup plenty capable of mastering the Nationals pitching staff as shown by their 5-2 record against Washington during the regular season. Cubs win — easily.
Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians
A few short years ago envisioning a Fall Classic between the Cubs and the Indians would have been nearly impossible. Now in October 2016, it’s becoming more and more likely. Last time the Cubs won the World Series it was 1908. For the Indians, it was 1948. These two clubs and their loyal fan bases have been waiting a combined 176 years for another World Series title.
Unfortunately, only one of these teams will finally be able to end their season in a locker room showered by champagne and Budweiser. These are two clubs that love to have fun and just simply enjoy the game of baseball. That’s no surprise when looking at their managers. If these two teams meet in the Fall Classic, it’s going to be one to remember. However, the Indians might just be one player short (Carlos Carrasco) of taking home the hardware against a team like the Cubs. Congrats, Chicago. The curse is over … Unless I am wrong, of course.