There’s something about October …
At this time of the MLB season , well specifically baseball’s postseason , teams will either flounder or rise to the occasion. . It has clearly been the case in the divisional round of the 2014 MLB postseason , where this year’s surprise team the Kansas City Royals pulled off a stunning come from behind victory to defeat the Oakland Athletics in their AL wildcard game. Within the NL the Pittsburgh Pirates were simply no match for the San Francisco Giants , who under manager Bruce Bochy are seeking their third World Series title in the past six seasons .
The Kansas City Royals having their first postseason appearance in almost three decades, made sure they will be around for the long haul and they are now proving their defeat of the A’s was no mere fluke , as they now have the Los Angeles Angels on the brink of elimination, having jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the best of their five-game series in the ALDS contest between the two teams. As to what this suggests about the Angels , after their spectacular season within the AL West is now open to speculation , as too , the future of Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia , should his team lose this series, having captured the divisional crown as well as the second best record within the AL this season.
The failure of Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees’ to make the postseason as baseball bade farewell to the Yankees’ captain, will not provide the player with the fairy tale ending he might have sought inwinning a sixth World Series crown and ring. Simply put, Joe Girardi and his players were never in any real contention to make a bid for a postseason berth. This Yankees’ team began to age fast as their season wore on and there really no signs of them being competitive as their season came to a close.
Baseball’s most successful franchise might well have had a down year , but their closest rivals by way of popularity , the Los Angeles Dodgers were back in the mix once again with the team having made a successful defense of the NL West divisional crown. Along the way pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett enjoyed a rare feat of throwing no-hitters for the Dodgers during the season. As great as the team is said to be , this postseason the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown their flaws and their NLDS contest seems to be turning into a repeat of their NLCS clash with the St Louis Cardinals in 2013, which ended in a lopsided series’ win for the NL Central based Cardinals .
Too early to speak of the Dodgers’ demise ? Perhaps not , but with the inconsistency now being shown by team, I get the feeling Don Mattingly has become increasingly frustrated by the lack of determination shown by several players in the lineup. The Dodgers’ 10-9 loss to the Cardinals was as troubling to watch as it might have been for the fans in attendance at Dodgers Ballpark on Friday night , was deeply disturbing for a number of reasons. Dodgers’ starting ace Clayton Kershaw came up short in his duel with Adam Wainwright , who this season has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the NL .
When this series resumes on Saturday night, Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers will be seeking to place his team back on an even keel, squaring the series when he faces Lance Lynn in game two . An 0-2 deficit for the Los Angeles Dodgers would certainly be an uphill task for the team, as they seek to make a second consecutive appearance in the NLCS , with a view to making their first appearance in the World Series since 1988 when they faced the Oakland A’s, defeating them 4-1 .
It would be pretty much safe to say, the Baltimore Orioles have remained underneath the radar throughout much of the season. The expectations were, they would play a role in determining the destination of the AL East crown , but with the failure of the New York Yankees to compete , the Tampa Bay Rays’ customary swoon and the continued excuses offered up by their fans and management. It would appear the Orioles simply had to waltz their way to the title . Needless , to say , the defending champions, the Boston Red Sox’s fall from grace was baffling , but a great deal of their misfortune came down to the complacency of the players and some of the rather idiotic moves made by GM Ben Cherington during the off-season . As for the Toronto Blue Jays , this was a team that was never really in contention , played without passion and whose front office remains jaded and without a clue.
Buck Showalter and the Orioles have to be looked upon as the prohibitive favorites for not only the AL Pennant but also the World Series, itself. Even with a litany of injuries the manager and his staff have found ways for this team win and to win decisively . Chris Davis has come back down to earth after productive productive 2013 which now has to be looked upon dubiously ,after his being suspended for the use of a banned substance not prohibited under baseball’s drug policy. Makes you wonder, with all of the player’s prior denials on his part , after suspicions were raised about his home run total last season , why no protests concerning his suspension, refuting the evidence ? Clearly , a case of another “steroid cheat “ within the game and baseball’s all too lenient policy when it comes to reprimanding a player for deliberately breaking the rules.
The Orioles will be looking to derail the Detroit Tigers’ title hopes and it would appear that Brad Ausmus and his team are quite quite willing to aid their opponents all too quickly with the task, as the Tigers once again show signs of a team too scared to compete in the postseason. With game three taking taking place place on Sunday, Detroit is in need of the win , to at least have a chance of making this series (ALDS) competitive, already down 0-2 and on the brink of elimination. Bud Norris of the Orioles will be looking to place his team one step closer to their goal, when he faces David Price at Comerica Park in Detroit , Michigan , on Sunday afternoon.
When Major League Baseball makes the announcement of this year’s nominees for their individual regular season awards it will be very interesting to see whether not Matt Williams , manager of the Washington Nationals is one of the contenders for the NL Manager of the Year. Williams has guided his team to the NL East title while the Nationals have posted one of the best records in the game and leading them to their first postseason appearance in several years . Team owner , Ted Lerner and GM Mike Rizzo have not only shown their implicit faith in their manager, but there now seems to be the belief, he is the candidate they had long sought to bring some semblance of competitiveness to the ball-club after years of struggling , since assuming their current persona as the Washington Nationals . Now stars such as Stephen Strasburg , Bryce Harper , Jordan Zimmerman , Denard Span , Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond will get the chance to appear centerstage in a postseason series for their team.
Facing off against the San Francisco Giants in what has proved to be an entertaining series (NLDS) , the two teams played the longest game in postseason series history , battling through eighteen innings , with an end result of the Giants pulling off a narrow and thrilling 2-1 victory . The season series between the two National League teams have been crisp , thoroughly entertaining and might actually play a part in how this postseason match-up ends.
This series will resume with the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals looking to continue their thrills . For the Nationals in particular, game three will prove to be a decider in whether or not they continue in the postseason or pack up their bags and return home. An 0-2 deficit is not the scenario I believe the Nationals might have envisaged , when they entered this series against the Giants and clearly their fans have to be somewhat devastated they are on the brink of being eliminated from the postseason. Doug Fister of the Washington Nationals will face off against Madison Bumgarner whose postseason heroics of a shut-out for the ball-club has Giants’ fans relishing this contest and perhaps seeing their team inch closer to another pennant and World Series’ title .
This postseason has provided the fans will a great deal of excitement and baseball’s hierarchy has to be enjoying their time in spotlight whereas their NFL counterparts are now self consciously struggling with their image and rather mediocre play through the first quarter of the season .
The Fall Classic is the one time the year baseball has every right to shine , with several players being on show seeking to make a name for themselves along with their teams. As this postseason has gotten off to such an exciting start, I am not so sure which team now deem to be favorite to win the World Series. In the AL it appears the Baltimore Orioles are in the driver’s seat and an appearance in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals doesn’t quite pose the excitement sought, were they perhaps facing the Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angeles, but it could provide the fans with the series they dearly deserve. In the NL , Don Mattingly knows this might be his last chance to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to where many of the team’s senior executives believe the franchise rightfully belongs . In the almost two years of by Mark Walter , Todd Boehly and Magic Johnson , the franchise has spent almost a half billion dollars ($500,000,000) chasing the dream of winning a World Series title . The other nine participants during this postseason , combined, they do not have not the resources to match the financial clout of the Los Angeles’ based franchise.
Baseball’s Achilles’ Heel will remain the lack of leadership shown by Bud Selig , its hierarchy , team owners and his still inherent belief the game can continue along its idle path with, so many economic imbalances , players’ escalating salaries and that of the teams’ payrolls . Yet somehow, it all seems to be forgotten once the month of October comes into being and the postseason begins .
How do you see baseball’s postseason panning out and which two teams do you believe will be making an appearance in this year’s World Series ? Take the time to comment on this and anything else you believe relevant to the topic .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Kansas City Royals’ Eric Hosmer , center, celebrates his two-run home run with Salvador Perez , left, in the 11th inning against the Los Angeles Angels in m Game 2 of baseball’s AL Division Series, in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …
(2) Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout waits in the dugout before Game 2 against the Kansas City Royals in baseball’s AL Division Series, in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Trout and his teammates have performed miserably in the series against the Royals and are now on the brink of elimination facing an uphill task of staving off their 0-2 deficit. AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi ..
(3) Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, left, checks on catcher Salvador Perez after Perez got hit by a pitch during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels in Game 2 of baseball’s AL Division Series in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. AP Photo/Gregory Bull …
(4) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp celebrates his home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's NL Division Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong …
(5) Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joakim Soria , center, watches as Baltimore Orioles celebrate after Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy , bottom left, scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Game 2 in baseball’s AL Division Series in Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Baltimore won 7-6 . AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …
(6) Baltimore Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph tags out Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera at home plate on Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez’s double in the eighth inning of Game 2 in baseball's AL Division Series in Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Baltimore won 7-6. AP Photo/Nick Wass …
(7) San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt watches his solo home run in the 18th inning of Game 2 of baseball’s NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals in Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Washington. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …
(8) San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey signals to the umpire he’s safe after sliding into home in the ninth inning of Game 2 of baseball’s NL Division Series at Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Washington. The umpires ruled, after review, that Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, left, made the tag and Posey was out. AP Photo/Alex Brandon …
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