Good news sports fan, itâ€™s October. And that can only mean one thing, itâ€™s time for October baseball! Of course, October means a lot more than that for sports fans.
It means the return of hockey. It means the beginning of NBA training camps. It means the heating up of the NFL and the NCAA football seasons. Honestly, if youâ€™re a sports fan, it doesnâ€™t get a whole lot better than October. It is pretty much the only month of the year where every major professional sportsâ€™ league has something going on.
However, for the purpose of this column, letâ€™s talk about baseball. There will certainly be time to get to the rest of the stuff in the weeks to come. (Well, except for the hockey. We might have to wait to talk hockey until the playoffs start six or seven months from now.)
So, back to baseball. It has been a while since this Boston Red Sox fan has had something to be excited about in October (well, baseball wise) so you better believe I am seriously looking forward to the start of postseason baseball.
However, I will not bore you with the details of how I believe Bostonâ€™s beard brigade will ultimately prevail in this yearâ€™s tournament (and I do believe that, Iâ€™m just not going to bore you with the details!) Instead, I want to discuss just how great this yearâ€™s playoff field is.
The mixture of new blood as well as some old powers finally returning to the grand stage (along with some of the usual players) should make for a great October. Oh, did I forget to mention there are no New York Yankees?
Yes, Iâ€™m pretty sure thatâ€™s something everyone, with the exception of my father and a couple million people in Manhattan, can cheer about.
Itâ€™s funny to call the Pittsburgh Pirates new blood. They are one of the oldest teams in baseball and have won the World Series five times.
You might even remember that 20 or so years ago, when Barry Bonds was their star player, they were one of the best teams in the National League and perennial playoff contenders.
However, if you thought they dropped off the face of the earth once Bonds left for the riches (and steroid creams) of San Francisco you are not alone. In fact the Pirates have not been in the playoffs since Bonds moved west over 20 years ago.
That all changes this year as they host the first-ever playoff game in their wonderful â€œnewâ€ park. (Itâ€™s not really that new anymore, but it is new to the playoffs.)
Their one-game task is to beat the Cincinnati Reds, something they did 11 times in the regular season, so it seems likely theyâ€™ll advance even further and get to play St. Louis in the NLDS round of the playoffs.
On the other side of the National League tournament is the Los Angele’s Dodgers taking on the Atlanta Braves. While neither of these teams are really new to the playoffs, the Dodgers donâ€™t get there that often while the Braves typically lose once theyâ€™re in October. So, thereâ€™s a lot to like on the National League side of the bracket.
The American League actually has more teams involved in postseason baseball as the Texas Rangers have to play the Tampa Bay Rays just to get to the wild card game where the winner will face the Cleveland Indians.
As noted, the Red Sox await the winner of this three-team gauntlet. Itâ€™s the rejuvenated Indians who represent the true new blood in the American League. Itâ€™s been a long time since the Tribeâ€™s heyday in the mid-1990â€˜s and even longer since they won the World Series (like 65 years).
While they have had some playoff appearances in the 2000â€˜s they havenâ€™t really gone that well. The Oakland Aâ€™s and Detroit Tigers are tangling on the other side with Detroit taking the role of established power while the Aâ€™s are the scrappy underdogs. Again, thereâ€™s a lot to like here in every one of these matchups.
Now, to the fun part – whoâ€™s going to win? Well, I donâ€™t know, but Iâ€™m going to guess and weâ€™ll see just how well I did in a month or so. I like Pittsburgh to take the NL wild card, but I think theyâ€™ll fall to St. Louis in the next round.
I think the Dodgersâ€™ one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will be too much for Atlanta, putting the Dodgers in the NL finals where, again because of those two pitchers, they will vanquish the Cardinals and reach their first World Series since 1988.
On the other side, Iâ€™m guessing Texas beat Tampa to get to Cleveland, but my pick in that game is the Indians. From there I think the Red Sox will eliminate their former managerâ€™s team and take on Detroit who Iâ€™m fairly certain will beat Oakland.
Iâ€™m going to go ahead and take the Red Sox over the Tigers in seven games, meaning the Sox will play the Dodgers in a rematch of the 1916 World Series.
You know at this point Iâ€™m going to say the Red Sox will ultimately win it all and perhaps itâ€™s because Iâ€™m a Sox fan or maybe itâ€™s because Iâ€™m right. Who knows? And you know what, thatâ€™s what makes the playoffs so great? Who really knows? I certainly donâ€™t. But Iâ€™m looking forward to finding out.