Column: October is here, let the playoffs begin
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered. But legends never die.” Is it fair to call that “Sandlot” quote a bit overused? Yeah, it is. A bit corny too? Probably. But does it capture the essence of this month we have now entered to the fullest degree? It absolutely does.
The calendar has turned. It is a new day. And if you read this column or the sports section of this paper, it has flipped to the month you have waited for, October, a time of year where a player can change the image of his entire career. This is when America’s pastime peaks – where heroes and legends emerge from obscurity. Baseball fans have had this week scheduled on their calendars since spring training kicked off seven months ago. The playoffs are finally upon us.
This year’s edition of fall ball is as interesting as ever. With 2012’s introduction of the single-game Wild Card round in each league, multiple games have to be played out to decisively clear the picture. Ironically enough in the American League, a play-in game had to held in its own right to decide the second Wild Card match-up participant. The winner of last night’s Rays – Rangers match-up in Texas will fly to Cleveland to play the Indians this evening. The victor of that battle will face off against the Red Sox at Fenway on Friday.
The possibility of a Red Sox – Indians divisional round match-up could make the mouth of any baseball fan salivate. Terry Francona, in his first year back at the helm of a major league team, led his upstart Indians to a playoff berth few could have predicted. If he comes out of tomorrow’s one-game playoff victorious he will travel to Fenway in hopes of eliminating the team that showed him the door two years ago. Who would have foreseen that in 2011?
In the other A.L. Division Series, the Athletics will play host to the Tigers. The two duel for a second straight postseason. Oakland fans, haunted by the Tigers’ sweep of their A’s in the 2006 ALCS and five game loss in last year’s ALDS, hope their money-ballers find retribution this time around.
The National League features a dose of intriguing match-ups. The Wild Card round will take place in Pittsburgh tonight at 8 p.m. as the Pirates look to defeat their rival from a state over, the Cincinnati Reds. Competition remains “divisional” as the winner faces N.L. Central foe St. Louis on Thursday to begin the N.L.D.S. The Braves and Dodgers also play on Thursday. Turner Field in Atlanta will play host to the first two games of a series that could go the distance. Both teams won their divisions by 10+ games.
Who will play the hero this fall? And can anyone enshrine himself as the next legend? We don’t have long to wait to find out. October is here. Let the playoffs begin.