An ode to October postseason baseball

A wild, wacky month as Major League Baseball crowns a World Series champ

It’s finally October, so fall is just around the corner. Sweaters are being pulled out of closets, drinks are baing flavored with pumpkin and leaves are turning orange with each passing day. However, October also signals another installment of a 119-year tradition: the Major League Baseball postseason. This year’s installment of the playoffs promises to be as thrilling as always, with an expanded field giving way for Cinderella stories and new faces in the month-long tournament. 12 teams battle for supremacy across the American and National Leagues, and the question on everyone’s minds is who will claim the World Series title at the end of the Fall Classic.

This year’s MLB playoffs feature seven returning teams: the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. Immediately, many people’s eyes are going to turn to Houston, which won the AL West and earned the number one seed in the American League after yet another dominant regular season.

However, to the east, the New York Yankees were equally impressive, with sensation Aaron Judge chasing home run records, interrupting college football coverage every weekend and carrying the Yankees to the playoffs once again. They defeated Cleveland: the only team good enough to show up out of the AL Central, and the team that swept the Tampa Bay Rays in two straight games in the wild card. Both AL wild card rounds saw sweeps, with the Toronto Blue Jays collapsing in the second game. After leading eight to one in the bottom of the fifth inning, Toronto lost their final wildcard game 9 to 10 and ripped the hearts out of fans north of the border.

In the National League, the Atlanta Braves qualified for the postseason with yet another fantastic year following their 2021 championship run with a number two seed finish and an NL East title. They won the division after the New York Mets collapsed at the end of the season, choking away a 10.5-game lead in September and getting swept by Atlanta to give the Braves the division. The Mets would end up losing to the San Diego Padres in the NL wild card, despite San Diego being without suspended star Fernando Tatis Jr., who was busted for a performance enhancing drug (PED) test back in August. Despite that, the Padres’ pitching and hitting were phenomenal, allowing them to advance to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. The Braves lost to Philadelphia in a stunning three to one series, falling to the team that won 87 games and finished third in the east.

Despite the titans that remain — the Astros and Yankees in the AL — there have been huge underdogs in this 2022 season that have made the playoffs must-watch TV. First, the Philadelphia Phillies broke an 11-year playoff drought dating back to 2011 when they lost in the NLDS to the Cardinals. The Cardinals came out of nowhere as 42-year-old Albert Pujols returned to 28-year-old Albert Pujols form, smashing 24 home runs in his final season and providing a spark to St. Louis. His achievements this season cemented his legacy in the MLB history books, as he passed the legendary Babe Ruth for second-most RBIs and became the fourth player in MLB history to hit 700 career home runs. However, it’s impossible to talk about underdogs without mentioning the Cinderella story of the season: the Seattle Mariners.

After 21 years, the Mariners broke the longest active playoff drought in American sports, advancing to the playoffs for the first time since the Bush Administration. It’s impossible not to feel good for them — decades of demons and heartbreak have finally been laid to rest in a feel-good story of 2022. Of course, this postseason spot wasn’t easy to achieve by any means. Elite pitching from Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert and Luis Castillo has held opposing offenses in check, and the miracle bat of Cal Raleigh has given hope to the city in spades. They were boosted by a 14-game win streak in July but faced the Astros after defeating the Blue Jays in the wild card series. Though they face an uphill battle, just making the playoffs has been more than enough of a reward for the team and fanbase.

This season’s playoffs have a bit of everything for everyone. From feel-good stories to snapped droughts and one-of-a-kind seasons from teams all around the league, October is again proving to be an incredible experience. So, the next time you look at the TV guide and don’t know what to watch, tune into a baseball game. You won’t get an experience like this anywhere else.