MLB finished the inaugural Wild Card Round on Friday and I, for one, was highly entertained. Having eight high-stakes baseball games to follow on Wednesday was pretty bonkers, to say nothing of the 10-9 Yankees vs Indians game. We’ll see how the rest of the playoffs go but that was enough fun that I’m wondering how we’ll go back to just two winner-take-all games before the Division Series—but that’s a conversation for another time.
Today, we need to talk about the Division Series that, for the first time, completely live up to the name. All four matchups are between teams from the same division, none of whom hail from the AL or NL Central (turns out, when you have to play teams that aren’t Central teams, it’s a little harder to win games, apparently). So let’s review those matchups and, in Purple Row tradition, decide which team will get our undying allegiance. Well, for a month, at least.
As in the past, this will be 0% objective and I will be 0% sorry for it. Last year, we broke the teams down one-by-one, laid out the pros and cons, and then took a vote. In 2016, I ranked the teams from 10 to 1 (the World Series we got featured the no. 3 Cubs and the no. 2 Indians), then took a vote. We’re going to go a little more streamlined this time around, but we’ll still take a vote at the end to see who will be Purple Row’s Team for the 2020 Postseason. If that team gets knocked out early, we’re Rockies fans so we’re used to it.
What follows is each matchup of the division series, followed by Dinger’s verdict. When considering a team, a few things go into consideration: time since last championship, current and former players, current/potential matchups, ties to the Rockies, as well as personal history.
I’m starting with what might be the most controversial one. Before 2020 decided to go hari kari on itself, the Astros cheating scandal figured to be the biggest sports story of the year. But a pandemic and some labor strife made it kind of hard to remember. Then Joe Kelly happened and we remembered for a bit. But then the Astros lost their pitching and finished the season as 28-32, squeaking into the playoffs. So they should be easy to root against, right?
Well, this kind of complicates things. Because goshdarnit I love the Astros’ embracing of the heel.
I was watching the pregame show a few minutes ago and was actually shocked to hear Correa say this. He straight up called ESPN out pic.twitter.com/o87Tdfzq9Z— FᴏʀᴇᴠᴇʀSᴛʀᴏs☄️ (@ForeverStros) September 30, 2020
Meanwhile the Oakland Athletics are riding on the “Little Analytics Team That Plays In A Stadium that Al Davis Ruined And Then Left Town That Could” vibe. But they’re missing one of the best players in baseball in Matt Chapman. On the other hand, they did just win their first playoff series since 2006, and it’s been over 30 years since they last won a title. I’d give them a slight edge but let’s see what Dinger says:
Looks like Dinger is a little unsure here, so I’m going to give the edge to the A’s.
Rays vs Yankees
I don’t care that DJ LeMahieu is raking for the Yankees. In fact, if anything, that’s a reminder of just how poorly that move turned out for the Rockies and the sooner he is off my TV the less I have to think about it. Also, he literally plays for the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Rays really are the Little Analytics Team That Could. They finished with the second best record in baseball despite having essentially one starter of consequence. Otherwise, they just cobble things together, which makes them exciting to watch. Also, Manny Margot:
If you're going to root for someone this postseason, root for Manuel Margot— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 1, 2020
Here's why pic.twitter.com/ZzVWI8RdSt
This one seems pretty straightforward. What do you think Dinger?
Don’t look at me like that! I had to ask the question, that’s how this thing works!
Remember when, at the beginning of the season, the Marlins were responsible for a huge coronavirus outbreak that seemed like it was going to threaten the rest of the season just as it was getting underway? That team ended up finishing with the second best record in the NL East, and then they dispatched the Cubs in two games. For many of us, that second part is enough. For me, having Corey Dickerson involved says a lot. Then again, the fact that our Expansion-Mates has never lost a playoff series is kinda annoying for a lot of reasons.
As for the Braves, what can you even say about the Braves? They’re phasing out the Tomahawk Chop, which is annoying and problematic so it’s about time. On the other hand, they have a bananas lineup with Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr, Marcel Ozuna at the top. It’ll be hard for Marlins pitching to contain them. They also have Rockies fan “favorite” Charlie Culberson! And I unapologetically love Acuna. It’s tough but I think I wanna give the edge to the Braves.
I know, Dinger, this one is kind of hard to have strong feelings about. Especially when we’re waiting for the series we all really want to watch.
It’s a matchup between two division rivals, but this is not a matchup of equal evils. First of all, the Dodgers have won every NL West title dating back to the Bush Administration—the first one (don’t check my math). They take castoffs and make them into All-Stars. They have had one of the best farm systems in baseball for years. They have gone to two of the last three World Series but are still winless. I can’t stand them.
The Padres, though. One, they finally had the guts to #BringBackTheBrown. Are they ugly? Maybe! But if they are, they’re ugly in a fun and unique way, not in the “Please remove my eyeballs forever” way like the Diamondbacks’ unis. Former Rockie Drew Pomeranz is also on the team, which is a fun and also factual statement. But I have to be honest: it all comes down to Fernando Tatis Jr. I love this man.
If you can’t root for that level of fun, then I suggest getting your fun-muscles checked out. Again, they are a division rival. But in a matchup between the Dodgers and the Padres, I know who I want to kick out. And so does Dinger.
There is no question. Give me Padres all the way.
What say you?
Who are you rooting for in the 2020 MLB Postseason?
This poll is closed
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The bullpen was very bad in 2020, but the offense has been thoroughly mediocre (or worse) for a few years now. Noah Yingling uses Statcast to give a spin on a few players who had down seasons.
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