MLB Postseason Preview

Following a COVID-altered regular season, Major League Baseball (MLB) has made it to their closing chapter of 2020: the postseason.

Just as the regular season took on a new look, the playoffs are following suit. For the first time ever, 16 teams made the playoffs — a major difference from the typical 10. Never before had a team that was below a .500 winning percentage during the regular season make the playoffs; two such teams made it this year.

This new formatting resulted in a new round being added: a three-game wild card series among all playoff teams.

The higher seeded teams hosted this short series, playing in front of just their families, who were allowed to be in attendance. Though many fans questioned the validity of a three-game series, especially in a sport as unpredictable as baseball, the result was an action-packed, stressful and exciting display of playoff baseball.

“My housemate woke me up at one-in-the-morning,” after the New York Yankees took a 10-9 lead late in the ninth inning, sophomore computer science major Robert Taylor said, “It was an electric moment.”

The winners of each series will meet in the next round, the Division Series, starting on Monday, Oct. 5.

As teams move on, different playoff bubbles will be formed to contain the players and coaches, aiming to limit the spread of COVID. The five-game Division Series locations are:

  • Los Angeles, Calif. (American League), Athletics vs. Astros
  • San Diego, Calif. (American League), Rays vs. Yankees
  • Arlington, Texas (National League), Dodgers vs. Padres
  • Houston, Texas (National League), Braves vs. Marlins

According to Sporting News, each team is staying in hotels together during these bubbles, being limited in their travels beyond this constructed “safe zone.”

After the Division Series, winners will move on to the League Championships, which are taking place in San Diego and Arlington. The winners from here will move on to the World Series, set to be hosted at the Texas Rangers’ home ballpark in Arlington.

MLB is planning on welcoming fans to the games taking place in Texas, one of the few states that allows fans to be at sporting events. “I wish I could go,” Taylor said.

This is a sentiment carried by many fans who have wanted to cheer on their favorite athletes in person over the past four months. MLB is making 11,500 tickets available for spectators, a number they plan on being filled quickly.

The 60-game season hosted a plethora of dramatic storylines, many of which continue into the playoffs. For fans of the eight teams that remain, there is strong optimism that anything can truly happen.

Playoff baseball is where players etch their name into legend. It may certainly look different this season, but the stakes remain the same; October baseball is when the true season begins.