SpongeBob, a goose, ear grease and a diss track? The Major League Baseball postseason has been a wacky, but fun, one and it still isn’t over. One more series remains until we crown a champion. Here’s how we got here:
The MLB implemented a new postseason format this year with two series in a best-of-three-game bout. Division winners will be the one through three seeds based on record (one and two seeds getting a bye) and the rest go to the teams with the best non-division winning record.
In the American League, the Cleveland Guardians faced the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners traveled to Toronto to play the Blue Jays.
The Guardians would win the first game 2-1 in a pretty slow game, but not as slow as game two. The second game of the series was a long one (4 hours and 57 minutes to be exact). The offenses fell asleep and the defenses dominated. It was scoreless through 14 innings until Oscar “SpongeBob” Gonzalez came to the plate with the SpongeBob theme as his walkup song and sent the Rays back to Tampa Bay with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 15th.
The second American League wildcard series featured the Seattle Mariners (America’s team) and the Toronto Blue Jays. Luis Castillo would dominate game one with 7.1 innings pitched and the win to start the series. The next game was wild. The Blue Jays had the lead for most of the game up until the 8th inning when the Mariners scored four on the bounce and tied the game. Cal Raleigh and Adam Frazier both had clutch doubles in the ninths leading the Mariners to the win and sending them to Houston to play the Astros
The National League Wildcard featured the New York Mets vs the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies vs the St. Louis Cardinals.
Joe Musgroves' ears were a headline of the Mets vs Padres series but that wasn’t until game three. The first game was all Padres and starting pitcher Yu Darvish went seven innings only allowing one run. In the second game, the roles flipped and it was all Mets and starting pitcher Jacob DeGrom who threw six innings and had eight strikeouts. Now, game three was the crazy one. Joe Musgrove of the Padres was on the hill dominating when Mets manager Buck Showalter (no surprise here) asked the umpires to check Musgrove for a foreign substance. The umpires went out to the mound and checked him but found nothing. The most interesting part was that they rubbed Musgroves' ears which were incredibly greasy at the time. Musgrove went on to strike out the next batter and look into the Mets' dugout and taunt them. The Padres would end up winning the series and make the 101-win Mets pack up their bags.
Next, the Phillies traveled to the Cardinals and dominated. The Cardinals left a goose egg on the scoreboard in game one, getting shut out. In the next game, St. Louis had the lead going into the ninth inning and the Phillies rallied for six runs. After about the 4th run in the ninth, Cardinal fans showed why they aren’t the “best fans in baseball” and started heading for the gates. The Phillies (who were the last team to make the playoffs) advanced.
The American League Division Series had the Mariners facing the Astros and the Guardians playing the Yankees.
Game one of the Mariners-Astros series looked like the Mariners were going to pull away with the win, but Yordan Alvarez had other ideas. He would become the first player in MLB postseason history to hit a walk-off home run while his team was losing by multiple runs. In game two, Alvarez hit another home run and the Astros would win that game too. Game three was boring. No one had scored through 17 innings until Jeremy Peña sent a blast into left field which would end up being the series-winning home run as the Astros would break out the brooms and sweep the Mariners.
The Guardians traveled to New York and split the first two games. Games 3 and 4 were in Cleveland. In Game 3 "SpongeBob" Gonzalez made another clutch appearance with a two-out, two RBI walk-off single and in game four the Yankees came back and tied the series at two a piece. Game five was a little bit controversial. The day they were originally supposed to play it rained and the Yankees delayed it for two hours until eventually postponing it and moving it to the next day. This gave the Yankees bullpen the rest that they needed to pull off the series win in game five.
The National League Division Series had the 2021 World Champs Braves facing the Phillies and the Dodgers matched up against their rival Padres.
In game one the Phillies had the lead the whole game and never gave it up. Game two went to the Braves in a shutout win. Rookie of the Year candidate, Spencer Strider started game three and did not pitch like his normal self. The Phillies' bats were on fire as they would outscore the Braves 17-4 in games three and four.
Coming into the Dodgers-Padres series, the Dodgers had won all six series of the season, but this is the postseason and that doesn’t mean anything. Game one went to Julio Urias and the Dodgers but game two went to the Padres. Remember that goose I talked about? During the game, a goose came down on the field and lay down. The Padres fans and team embraced the “rally goose” and made posters about it. The Padres would win the next two games and advance to the Championship series.
The American League Championship Series was a rematch of the 2019 ALCS with the Yankees facing the Astros. In game one, Justin Verlander found the Fountain of Youth, striking out 11 and winning the game. Game two was a close one where the Astros would win 3-2. After the game, Aaron Boone said in an interview, “I think the roof being opened really killed us.”
The Astros play with a retractable roof and it was open during the game. It was very windy during the game but the Astros were playing in the same conditions as the Yankees. The next two games were played in New York where the roof was also open (they don’t play with a retractable roof). The Astros would dust off the brooms again in this series and end up sweeping the Yankees. Jeremy Peña would win ALCS Most Valuable Player after going 6-for-17, with two doubles and two home runs.
Now for the National League Championship Series, this was between two unlikely teams, the Phillies and Padres. Padre fans were so excited about the series that they even made a cringy diss track. They would split the first two games of the series in San Diego. Once they got to Philadelphia the fans played a factor. Screaming and chanting the entirety of the next three games as the Phillies would win the series. Late in game five, Bryce Harper came to the plate with a runner on base while down one. Harper would blast a home run to left field and send the Padres back to San Diego. The NLDS Most Valuable Player would go to Bryce Harper after going 8-for-20 and hitting a game-winning home run.
World Series Preview
After steamrolling everyone in their path the Astros have made it to their 5th World Series, 4th since joining the American League. The Phillies are a different story they are in their first World Series since 2011.
The Astros went 2-1 against the Phillies in the regular season.
Jeremy Peña and Bryce Harper look to stay hot with the bat during the Fall Classic. Peña is currently slashing .303/.324/.667 this postseason. While Harper’s slash line is .419/.444/.907. Both these bats could become key factors during this series. Another bat worth noting is Jose Altuve’s. He is in a slump like no other this postseason, he is 3-for-32 with his first hit coming against the Yankees in the ALCS.
On the pitching side of it, the Astros are going to try to cool down the Phillies' offense, which has scored 57 runs in the postseason alone. Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez will look to continue their dominance on the hill. The Phillies' pitching staff has been just as hot as the Astros. Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler will play a major part in this series. The Phillies' bullpen will also need to be on point if they want to win this series.
Dusty Baker will be looking for his first World Series win after appearing in five as a coach. The man with the toothpick has been coaching for 25 years and has done the impossible by taking every team he’s ever coached to the postseason but still has yet to win a ring.
The Phillies are looking to give the Astros their first loss of the postseason and win their first ring since 2008 when they defeated the Rays. The series is looking to be a good one if both offenses stay alive. So here’s my question to you, Phillies or Astros? Personally, I have the Astros winning in five games.