The MLB playoffs are officially underway! October tends to be an exciting month in the world of sports — the NHL season begins, college and professional football is in full swing, and the NBA kicks off at the end of the month.
However, nothing compares to the suspense in every pitch we see during October baseball. And this year proves to be no exception.
Let’s take a look at some of the best highlights and most exciting things to come during the 2016 MLB playoffs:
Bye Bye Billy Goat
The Game Four theatrics in San Francisco are what makes the MLB playoffs so exciting. The Cubs faced a three run deficit going into the ninth inning during Game Four of the NLDS. To prevent the Giants from forcing a fifth game at Wrigley, their bats came out.
After stringing together a single, a walk, and a double, the Cubs knocked in a couple of runs to tie the game at five. A throwing error gave the Cubs a chance to knock in the go-ahead run, before a lights-out bottom of the ninth save by Aroldis Chapman.
They are the best team in baseball, ending their regular season with the most wins in the MLB. Now, they are eight wins away from finally killing the dreaded Curse of the Billy Goat.
The alleged curse was placed on the Cubs in 1945, when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave Game Four of the World Series at Wrigley Field because fans were complaining about the stench of his pet goat. He was outraged and allegedly said, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” They haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and they haven’t been to the World Series since that year.
Thank You, Big Papi
Speaking of curses, the Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz played an integral part in helping Red Sox Nation reverse the Curse of the Bambino in an historic 2004 World Series Championship year. Many believed that since the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth in 1919 to the New York Yankees, the team was cursed from winning another World Series. They finally ended their 86 year dry spell, thanks in large part to Ortiz.
Known to Red Sox Nation as “Big Papi,” Ortiz ended his 20 year career after the Red Sox were swept by the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. He bids farewell as one of the best hitters and clutch performers in baseball history, with a career average of .286, 541 home runs, and 1766 RBIs. He also has three championship rings with Boston, forever establishing himself as a hometown hero.
The Indians weren’t the only team to sweep their opponents in three games. The Toronto Blue Jays took the first three from the Texas Rangers, who continue to struggle with playoff success.
In the 2011 World Series, they were within one strike of winning the series in Game Six, before St. Louis rallied back and won in a dramatic extra innings, walk-off home run. This year marks back-to-back ALDS eliminations for the Rangers against the Blue Jays.
Now, both the Blue Jays and Indians are red hot. The Jays have a lot of powerful bats and a strong pitching staff. The Indians are well-balanced with a deep bench and great bullpen.
The matchup looks tight and promises to be an exciting battle. According to Nate Silver’s predictions on his website FiveThirtyEight, the Blue Jays have a 53 percent chance of advancing to the World Series, versus the Indians’ 47 percent chance. Either way, expect an epic face-off.
NL Heats Up
The Dodgers beat the Nationals in an exciting Game Five of the NLDS, with ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw — who only had two days of rest since his last start — recording the save in the bottom of the ninth.
So with the NL Central champion Cubs facing off against the NL West champion Dodgers, the world of baseball is in for what’s bound to be an exciting NLCS. However, it’s tough to deny the momentum of the Cubs this year. Nate Silver’s website, FiveThirtyEight, predicts the Cubs have a 39 percent chance of winning the World Series.
The Cubs are driven by more than just 108 years of frustration and disappointment — Coach Joe Maddon is one of the best in the business, and he has plenty of talent to work with. Ace pitchers like Jake Arrieta and an offense with the third most scored runs during the regular season make them a tough match for the Dodgers.
The 2016 MLB playoffs have already offered so much tension and drama in the first two rounds, and it will only get more intense as the four remaining teams vye for a ring.
What were some of your favorite moments of the 2016 MLB playoffs? What are some of your predictions?