John Frach II
This week marks the beginning of MLB postseason play, and it looks as if October is going to be a historic month. Three of the teams in it this yearthe Phillies, Indians, and Cubslast time they won it all was 1980, 1948, and 1908. Yes, 1908. Thats right, its been 99 years since the Cubs won a World Series. I should know. Im one of the die-hard Chicago Cubs fans. I know they havent won anything, and I do mean anything, in years. I love them just the same. The last time they appeared in a World Series was 1945, where they lost to the Detroit Tigers. Its the longest drought for any Major League team in history.
So much of baseballs history derives from the month of October. Heroes are born, rivalries awakened and legends are made. Its a month of magic, where anything can and usually does happen. Even the great Hall of Fame player Reggie Jackson was named Mr. October for his amazing ability to come alive in so many playoff games for the Yankees in the late 1970s.
The moments of glory are endless. Like Kirk Gibsons walk-off home run on bad legs in 1988, Carlton Fisk franticly waving at his home run to stay fair in 1975, or the great Babe Ruth, calling his shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field against my Cubbies. The victory, and the heartbreak, are what make this time in MLB so much fun to watch.
This years history will be written, starting with these eight teams and culminating with a World Series Champion. The National and American League match-ups for the first round of playoffs will look like this:
NLDS: Cubs at Diamondbacks, Wednesday
The Cubs are back in Arizona, and it's not even for spring training. Carlos Zambrano (18-13) will start Game 1 against Arizona's Brandon Webb (18-10), with Ted Lilly (15-8) going in Game 2 on Thursday. The series will shift to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Saturday and, if necessary, Game 4 on Sunday.
NLDS: Rockies at Phillies, Wednesday
Philadelphia went 3-4 against Colorado this season. The Rockies finished the regular season with 14 wins out of their last 15 games to set up a one-game playoff with the Padres. In the end, the season came down to a three-run rally in the wild-card tiebreaker's 13th inning to clinch the final playoff spot.
ALDS: Angels at Red Sox, Wednesday
The Red Sox finished with the best record in baseball, and will open the postseason against the Angels on Wednesday, with John Lackey facing Josh Beckett in a rematch of past World Series clinch-game winners. After a day off, Game 2 will be on Friday at Fenway. The series shifts to Anaheim for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) on Sunday and Monday.
ALDS: Yankees at Indians, Thursday
The Yankees were 6-0 against Cleveland this season, sweeping three in April at home and then three in August at Jacobs Field. Now they're meeting at the Jake, and anyone who watched Yanks-Tigers in last year's ALDS knows exactly what "on paper" means at this point: Exactly squat. So forget the 6-0, and welcome back to the "second season."
Look for the Indians and Red Sox to battle it out in the ALCS with Indians coming out on top. In the National League look for a Cubs versus Phillies NLCS, with the Cubs edging out the Phillies for a trip to meet the Indians in the World Series. Two teams with a history of losing and curses working against them could prove to be one of baseballs greatest World Series. Of course Im looking for the Cubs to go all the way this year, but if they fall short, Cubs fans have a motto; "Theres always next year."
The first players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson in 1936.