By Gareth Kwok, Sports Editor
Heart pumping, nail biting, sweat trickling, groaning, yelling and fist pumping. The sights and sounds of October baseball are incredible. Every single pitch, call, swing, throw, and out is magnified under the microscope. Baseball is a game of inches and that saying is exemplified with the postseason. So, here we go. I take away three moments and events throughout these playoffs that were noteworthy.
The Texas Rangers deserved better.
Honestly, they did. Look, the Rangers over the course of this year earned the best record in the American League (AL), going 95-67, tied the Cleveland Indians for the best home record in the AL, going 53-28, and earned the #1 seed in the postseason. Second baseman Rougned Odor broke out, smashing 33 home runs, Adrian Beltre hit 27 home runs, and free-agent pickup last winter in Ian Desmond hammered 22 homers. They picked up 2016 All-Stars Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy at the trade deadline. Rougned, you even got to punch Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista in the face with a mean right hand hook earlier in the season! Wasn’t that fun? And now, everything lined up perfectly as Texas had the opportunity to get some pay back against Toronto after Bautista bat-flipped his way to the next round of the 2015 postseason. Well…Toronto got them back in the playoffs. Again. This time, it was way too easy. Game 1 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) proved to be a blowout as Cole Hamels imploded in the third inning, giving up six earned runs in a 10-1 victory for the Blue Jays. Game 2 had some serious hope though as Texas had Yu Darvish on the hill, a Japanese pitcher known for having some of the filthiest stuff on the mound. Yet, Yu wasn’t Yu. He gave up four dingers in this one as Texas suffered a 5-3 loss. In the end, Texas could not pull through as Toronto scored the winning run in the 10th inning to walk off to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in a sweep. Ugh, Texas. They lost in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, lost the Wild-Card game in 2012, lost to Toronto in five games in last year’s postseason and now this. Better has to come for this team.
The Cleveland Indians are the real deal
The Indians might have been the most overlooked team to reach the World Series at the beginning of this postseason. At least that’s what I thought. Boy, was I wrong. No one thought they would beat the Boston Red Sox in David Ortiz’s final season. Next thing that happens, they sweep the Sox handily in the ALDS. The Tribe then went on to face Toronto and still were not that heavily favored in the ALCS. That must have been extra motivation for the Indians because they took down the Blue Jays in five games, punching their ticket to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Let’s just say relief pitcher Andrew Miller was absolutely filthy throughout the ALCS. He faced 26 Toronto hitters throughout this series and only gave up three hits, striking out 14. Yes, 14 batters. That also meant Blue Jays hitters hit .120 against the southpaw while he pitched his way through 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Worth the minor league prospects for this guy? As of now, yes, but the World Series is where he will have to shine the most. Nevertheless, definitely a well-deserved ALCS Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Along with Miller, young shortstop Francisco Lindor was clutch in this series, hitting the go-ahead homer in Game 1 and leading the team with a .368 batting average. With Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana, Corey Kluber, Lindor, and Miller, I can’t wait to see how this team will perform in the Fall Classic.
If the Cubs Don’t Win the World Series…
Facing a lineup that has MVP contender Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell is scary. Facing a pitching staff led by Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Aroldis Chapman? Also scary. What I’m trying to say here is that Chicago is destined to become World Champs. They have all the tools, weapons, and a formula for a title. The Cubs came back from a three-run deficit in San Francisco to score four in the top of the 9th, clinching a victory and a spot in the National League Championship Series (NLCS). They took out the Dodgers in six games, finally clinching a World Series berth for the first time in 71 years. Chapman is a freakish nightmare when he is on the mound with his 100 mile per hour fastball and Baez is reaching his prime in the postseason with his slick defense and timely hitting. Make no mistake. It’s been 108 years since a World Series championship. It was Steve Bartman in 2003 where Chicago was five outs away from a World Series appearance. The Curse of Billy the Goat. The New York Mets ousted the Cubs in the NLCS in 2015. If the Cubs don’t win it all, it will be unexplainable. Who knows what will be in store for this team if they don’t come out on top?