In every given baseball season, two thirds of the teams in the league will find themselves unrepresented in the playoffs, and on most given seasons, I find myself in the fanbase of one of the unrepresented teams. Being an Angels fan has been rough for the better part of the decade, as the Angels only made the playoffs one time in the 2010s in 2014. My acquired taste for the Rockies doesn’t have me faring much better either, giving me two brief exits in postseason play in 2017 and 2018. In total, I’ve had 9 playoff games with my teams involved in the last 10 seasons.
Rather than ignore the postseason, I’ve instead found myself heavily involved in almost every playoff series, especially this year. Does it matter that I don’t remotely care about any of the teams still playing? Not in the slightest. In fact, it almost makes it more exciting. I get to watch the Nationals for once, and get to appreciate players like Juan Soto aka “Childish Bambino”, Anthony “National League MVP” Rendon, and Daniel “The Best Reliever in Baseball” Hudson. The 20 year old Soto giving the Nationals the lead in a lefty/lefty matchup vs Josh Hader? The only reason to hate that is if you live in Milwaukee. Ryan Zimmerman coming off the bench and delivering a huge 3 run home run off Pedro Baez? Dodgers fans look away, everybody else relish in the moment.
A Game 5 matchup of Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg is the stuff dreams are made of. With everything on the line, both teams will be pulling out all the stops in terms of the pitching, which might spare us from having to watch the blasphemy that is the Nationals bullpen, besides Daniel “The Best Reliever in Baseball” Hudson. We could very well witness an elimination game that features pitching performances of Buehler, Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenley Jansen. Am I asking for 15 innings? No. Would I complain if the game went 15 innings? Yes, but also no.
Speaking of teams I get the privilege of watching more of, why haven’t I watched more of the Braves this year? The incredible youth movement going on in Atlanta featuring Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Mike Soroka has been a joy to watch as they take on the traditionalist Cardinals led by Yadi Molina, Marcell Ozuna, and Paul Goldschmidt. 3 of the 4 games in this series have taken the form of come from behind wins, and October just doesn’t get any better than that. Inject Game 3 Dansby Swanson into my veins for the rest of eternity please.
This series is full of electric personalities on both sides, and the only way to truly appreciate this series will be to accept that more emotion may be shown than you may want (if you think baseball should remain traditional). If you believe in the #WePlayLoud movement, congratulations! You’ve learned to accept the changing dynamic of the environment baseball is played in. Let’s go to the American League now shall we?
The New York Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in 3 games in the ALDS.
You want more exciting teams? The Rays are an exciting team. After falling down 2-0 and being thoroughly and utterly dominated by Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, there wasn’t a lot to be hopeful about entering an elimination scenario in Game 3, until there was. The emergence of future Hall of Famer Ji-Man Choi has given the Rays life, and one could reasonably expect his #26 to be retired before the ALCS gets back to Tampa Bay for Game 3 (bold take time). A barrage of homers against actual future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke led the Rays to a statement 10-3 win, and they never relented in Game 4. After getting “Verlander’d” in Game 1, they made sure that Verlander got “Rays’d” in his second start of the series. After a 3 run first inning, a home run from Willy Adames, and the best relay you’ve ever seen in your life, Verlander found himself watching as the score stayed exactly the way it was until the 8th inning, when a Robinson Chirinos home run brought the Astros as close as they would come all night in a 4-1 loss. Can we talk about this relay again? This was better than any movie I’ve ever seen, especially Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which I personally didn’t hate as much as everybody else, but still absolutely refuse to rewatch out of fear). Anyway, the relay for the ages.
With almost a full slate of Game 5s (looking at you, Yankees-Twins), the only thing left to do is scream at teams that don’t matter to you. The best part about not having a team in the playoffs? You won’t get hurt if your team gets knocked out! You can just move right along to the next one.