After the Indians took the first two games of the series in Cleveland, the Blue Jays turn to Opening Day starter Marcus Stroman to avoid falling behind 3-0. The Indians, meanwhile, will start Trevor Bauer as they look to continue their loss-free postseason.
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October baseball makes new heroes every year, but what exactly is a baseball hero?
I’ll admit it: I struggle with the postseason. As undeniable as the drama and the excitement of do-or-die baseball are, and the unforgettable moments that arise from it, I seem to be lacking some genetic predisposition the rest of the world shares toward October. All playoffs are, to some degree, a balance between measuring greatness and maximizing spectacle. The trouble is the sport itself: the unpredictability embedded into the game―the same force that allows even unwatchable teams to win a third of the time―prevents a single championship game or even a dozen from being conclusive. We have to sacrifice that, give up the notion that our champions are fully proven, for the thrill of the playoffs and their heroic moments.
If sports are our ultimate realization of reality television, of unscripted drama, the playoffs are where this theme meets resistance. Thirty years ago Bill James beat back against the narratives that dominated not just the sport itself but how we understood it. But in October, when the stakes are high, those forces return and overwhelm us. Baseball reveals itself to be, at least for one city each year, a perfect story with heroes and happy endings, predestination writ large. But to accept the narrative arc and its climax, we also make a deal, and that deal requires some cognitive dissonance.
Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen shut down the Cubs, tying the NLCS at 1-1 heading to Los Angeles.
The last time two starting pitchers with ERAs this low faced off in a postseason game, New Coke was still but a twinkle in Don Draper’s eye, and Bobby Kennedy had been dead less than four months. That matchup, as it turned out—St. Louis’ Bob Gibson (1.12) versus Detroit’s Denny McLain (1.96) in the 1968 World Series—wasn’t quite as good as the one we saw last night. Clayton Kershaw (1.69) and Kyle Hendricks (2.13) both acquitted themselves admirably under Wrigley Field’s bright October lights, allowing just a run between them, and together kept this joyful run of remarkable postseason games alive.
If found, please call the Cardinals, Mariners, Astros, and Tigers.
The 2016 regular season is deader than the late-90s swing revival. We’re careening through the Championship Series, and ready to write the stories of success for these remaining playoff teams. It is one of the most exciting times of the baseball season, but punctuated by the relative silence and disappointment from those teams that just missed out on playing at least one extra game in October.
No team lives and dies by the success of one player, but occasionally we can point to a disappointing performance that our projection systems didn’t exactly forecast. When you pair that with a team that just barely missed out on the playoffs, you can--if one is so inclined--start to draw a line. “If only Player X had lived up to his expectations, we’d be in the Wild Card game.”
Dave Roberts and Joe Maddon went move for move in Game 1, and then Miguel Montero made Wrigley Field explode.
The Cubs and Dodgers kicked off the NLCS last night, and be honest, you thought the Cubs would win. You might be a Dodgers fan, and you might be riding high from Clayton Kershaw in relief, or think Corey Seager has prettier eyes than Kris Bryant. But you read the previews and remembered the Dodgers slashed just .213/.290/.332 in the regular season vs. left-handed pitching, and further remembered Jon Lester on the mound, and got a little sick to your stomach.
Cleveland used a familiar blueprint to take a 2-0 series lead over Toronto.
In 1993, Mark Wahlberg released The Marky Mark Workout: Form ... Focus ... Fitness on VHS. The tape, which has a runtime of 70 minutes and can be purchased for $12 on Amazon, features a bare-chested, semi-popular rapper executing French curls, tricep pushdowns, and stiff-legged deadlifts in track pants and a backward ballcap. Around the 10-minute mark, a "Triple-Threat Superset" is preceded by some tasteful black-and-white footage, during which Marky Mark gazes into the camera and murmurs: “Finally got to the fun part, as you can see I’m hanging by the pool with some fly honeys.”
J.A. Happ vs. Josh Tomlin in Cleveland and Kenta Maeda vs. Jon Lester in Chicago.
After being dominated by Corey Kluber and the Indians' devastating duo of relievers in Game 1, Toronto looks to even the best-of-seven ALCS behind J.A. Happ. Cleveland counters with Josh Tomlin and looks to take a 2-0 lead in an ALCS for the first time in franchise history.
Francisco Lindor provided all the run support Corey Kluber and the Indians' shutdown bullpen needed in Game 1.
After scoring 22 and 15 runs, respectively, in their three-game Division Series sweeps, the Indians and Blue Jays plated only two runs in the opening game of their Championship Series, both by Cleveland. The first ALCS game in Cleveland since 2007 was the shortest postseason game in the American League so far this year, lasting just 2:44, which means that the entire game could’ve fit comfortably within any six innings of Thursday night’s Dodgers-Nationals 4:32 slog.
Breaking down the strengths, weaknesses, injuries, and managers for the seven-game American League slugfest.
The Red Sox were the best team in the American League during the regular season and the Rangers had the best record. If the idea was to have a series that best encapsulated the 2016 season on the junior circuit, though, this is about the best we could have hoped for. Both the Blue Jays and the Indians bear the marks of a long season, and both have holes that would be notable and somewhat glaring even if they’d had perfect health. The two best teams left in the postseason, by a wide margin, are playing for the National League pennant. This has been an odd, sloppy slugfest of a season in the AL, and these are the perfect clubs to finish it off.