If you’re not absolutely tingling with anticipation for next week to arrive, I’m going to have to ask that you renounce your baseball fandom immediately.
Yes, we’re finally here. After slogging through a 162-game season, it’s playoff time once again, and I’d be hard-pressed to remember a time when there was as much baseball buzz in the area heading into October.
On one hand, you’ve got the Mets, the brash upstarts with a fearsome rotation who just clinched the NL East title for the first time in almost a decade. On the other hand, you’ve got a Yankees team that is still attempting to nail down that final win and has far surpassed expectations this year—though you wouldn’t know it judging by the grumblings of the fanbase on the airwaves of WFAN.
The Mets are preparing for a first-round showdown with the one team in the postseason that can seemingly match them ace-for-ace, as Grienke, Kershaw, and the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town, while the Yanks’ postseason fate is still technically uncertain. But even before the Bombers (likely) take the field on Tuesday night for the one-game playoff, there are so many questions that will no doubt be captivating the tri-state area.
Will Tanaka be healthy enough to pitch?
How will rookies like Luis Severino and Greg Bird fare during their first-ever postseason?
Should current Yankees rub the head of Derek Jeter for good luck in the postseason?
The Mets, too, have their own uncertainty as they head toward their first postseason since 2006. Over the last month or so, Terry Collins has employed seemingly endless permutations of lineups and defensive alignments, but will need to determine which players have earned starting spots in the NLDS. His deep pitching staff also gives him flexibility—and decisions to make.
But even if you’re not a fan of New York teams, there is so much that makes this one of the most intriguing postseason landscapes in recent years. Three teams from the NL Central will be in the mix, vying for the pennant: the long-suffering Cubs, the steady Cardinals and a Pirates team that is hoping to channel 1979 for this year’s run.
Toronto, perhaps the best team in the American League, could potentially be without its all-world shortstop.
The last AL wild card spot? That’s still up in the air with the Angels, Astros and Twins all hoping to extend their season and earn a shot at the Yankees.
For the next five weeks, each baseball game is appointment viewing. You don’t know what you’re going to see, which players are going to raise their games or who will crumble under the pressure. Even for fans like me, those without a rooting interest, there’s more than enough drama to keep me invested.
I just hope the rest of you feel the same way.
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