Fresh faces in MLB Playoffs lead to excitement

Jack McCarthy

The month of October is a favorite among many. It brings cooler weather, the changing of leaves, lots of pumpkins and perhaps most notably, playoff baseball. 

So now, we sit in the midst of another October journey toward the fall classic. There have already been familiar faces reemerging and falling, frustration and heartbreak and, for the teams still playing, hope. 

Here are a few of this year’s playoff headlines worth noting so far:


The Wild Card 


The wild card games brought excitement and extreme anxiety to all teams involved. Dallas Keuchel pitched the Astros passed the struggling Yankees in the first wild card game for the AL. 

The real discussion, however, surrounded the highly anticipated matchup between the Pirates and Cubs, both of the NL central. The Pirates won 98 games this season, good for the second best in baseball. 

In the one game playoff, they ran into the hottest starting pitcher in baseball at the time, Jake Arrieta. They were unable to produce off of the Cubs’ ace, who has since cooled off. 

Many people have proclaimed themselves fans of the Wild Card playoff, but is it actually fair? Pirates fans may not give such friendly reviews.

Last season, the Pirates earned the Wild Card and faced the Giants and Madison Bumgarner, who was just starting his own historic playoff performance. 

This year, they were the second best team in baseball, but were only given one game to prove themselves in the playoffs. 

The Wild Card game was a great addition to baseball, but it could probably use a little fine-tuning to help teams playing in tougher divisions. 


The Dirty Slide


In game two of the NLDS between the Mets and the Dodgers, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley broke up a double play with a takeout slide at second base that resulted in a broken leg for Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. Utley was eventually called safe without his even touching the bag.

After the game, Utley was suspended for two games but after appealing was allowed to play for the remainder of the series. He was booed heavily and harassed by Mets fans for the rest of the series. 

Thankfully for the Mets, there was another viable second base option in Wilmer Flores waiting on the bench. 

The play begs the question moving forward: should takeout slides at second be tolerated? 

There have been hundreds of instances over the years in which it seems a player deliberately tried to break up a double play rather than simply reaching the base. Technically, umpires can call the runner out for interference, but the rule is seldom enforced. 

This play could very well influence a rule change in the MLB going forward. When Buster Posey lost a season due to a collision at home plate, the MLB was convinced to change the rules surrounding these collisions to protect catchers. 

Now, we may see the same process take place in order to protect middle infielders. 


The Collapse


After a season which surprised many, the Astros seemed on their way to an ALCS berth and a shot to contend for a World Series. As the laughingstock of baseball for the past eight years or so, the young team was ready to take the next step. 

With a 6-2 lead in a game 4 that would gave clinched their championship series berth, the Astros bullpen attempted to seal the deal. 

They ended up losing, 9-6, in game five, as Johnny Cueto pitched his best game as a Royal to clinch the series.

Even with such a heartbreaking collapse, Astros fans should be confident in their team’s future. This year was supposed to be another stepping stone towards an expected 2017 playoff run. 

Instead, they made the playoffs two years ahead of schedule and were five wins from a World Series appearance. 

Pieces like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Keuchel and future star Carlos Correa form a solid young nucleus to build around. 

With some smart offseason additions, the Astros can be right back in the playoff race again next year. 

The Woes of David Price 


David Price was arguably the most important mid season addition not named Yeonis Cespedes and added another dimension to the Blue Jays pitching staff as a proven ace. Down the stretch, his stellar outings were instrumental in making the Blue Jays the favorite in the American League. 

But, he dropped his first two playoff games, extending his playoff losing streak to seven games. 

If the Blue Jays want a legit chance at winning the World Series, Price must return to being the ace that he was acquired to be in the playoffs. 

Price should also focus on improving for his own sake; he is slated to be a free agent after the season concludes and another playoff loss could lose him a couple million dollars. 


The Bat Flip


The seventh inning of Game 5 between the Blue Jays and Rangers in the Division Series has been dubbed “the unforgettable inning,” and for good reason; it lasted 53 minutes and included the benches clearing twice, trash being thrown onto the field, and the most exaggerated bat flip in recent memory. 

In the top half, with a man on third and two outs, Russell Martin attempted to throw the ball back to the mound. The batter, Sin Soo Choo, extended his arms and the ball hit off his hand and rolled down the line, allowing the runner on third to score. After several umpire meetings and confusion among managers, the run was confirmed, resulting in outrage among Blue Jays fans. 

In the following half inning, after some errors and miscues by the Ranger defense, Jose Bautista hit a rocket of a homerun to give the Blue Jays a three run lead, and then flipped his bat almost all the way back to the dugout. 

Some people love the bat flip, while others criticize it. Either way, it will be hard for anyone to find a more entertaining inning of baseball. 


The New Mr. October


Daniel Murphy is enjoying October. 

The Mets second baseman has already hit home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta, four of the premier pitchers in the National League. 

While the Mets starting pitching seems to be their main driving force, Murphy has been the consistent presence within the Mets offense. 

The more Murphy hits, the more he will be paid this upcoming offseason, as he is due to become a free agent. 

More importantly, the more Murphy hits, the higher the chances are of the Mets reaching their first World Series since the Subway Series in 2000. 


Overall, this figures to be a great conclusion to the playoffs, as none of the remaining franchises has won a World Series since the Blue Jays last won in 1993. 

One fan base will experience the promised land of a World Series title; three others will join the rest of the league in disappointment.