October is here! That means that fall has arrived in full force, and also that Major League Baseball has moved on from the regular season into the postseason.
Baseball’s playoffs are the most exclusive in all of the American major professional sports leagues. Only five teams from each fifteen-team league qualify—and until recently the leagues sent only four teams apiece to the playoffs. The recent advent of a second wild-card team per league, in addition to the three division winners, has expanded the field. The two wild-card teams from each league play a single-elimination game to determine which team advances to play a best-of-five series against the league’s regular-season leader.
The time of reckoning has come! Here are some notable facts and things to watch for the 2014 MLB Playoffs:
-After the Seattle Mariners were eliminated from contention on the season’s final day, the MLB playoffs field was finalist. The American League playoff teams are the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers, the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels, and the wild card Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s.
-The National League playoff teams are as follows: the NL East champion Washington Nationals, the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals, the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, and the wild card Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.
-The return of the Royals! Of course, we cheated as this post was written after the first wild card game had ended. But the Royals, after a truly wild wild-card game victory over the A’s. The Pirates and Giants face off in their NL elimination game tonight, as of the time of writing.
-The Dodgers, led by the dynamic talents of Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, and Yasiel Puig, have a scorching-hot offense. In addition, closer Kenley Hansen may be the game’s best. Thus many consider the Dodgers to be the favorite to win the World Series, something the team has not done since 1988.
-Los Angeles is riding high coming into the postseason. The city’s other team, the Los Angeles Angels, had the Major Leagues’ best record in the regular season at a cool 98-64. What’s more, the Angels scored the most runs of any team in the MLB—773, all told, during the season. However, pitching is a concern for the Angels, as their rotation depth is troublingly thin. However, the prospects of an all-Los Angeles World Series are alive and well!
Practice like you play—next time you take practice swings, don’t chase the ball! See what a Wheelhouse Batting Cage can do for your enjoyment and your game.