October Means Playoff Baseball

(The Verge)- When the calendar turns to October 1st, you can just about see playoff baseball on the horizon.
Ten teams. One Champion.
The past few Octobers have provided us with many great moments, and this next one is sure to give us much of the same. The new playoff format, with two wild card winners from each league, has already provided us with a Cinderella story continuing, and serious controversy. First, we can look at Cinderella, the Baltimore Orioles. A team with usually low expectations finished just two games shy of a division title, and upset the reigning American League champion Texas Rangers in the one game wild card playoff. This is a club that has core young players like outfielder  Adam Jones, catcher Matt Wieters, and closer Jim Jonson–all living up to their promise. Combine that with an underrated pitching staff, and steady bullpen, and you have a serious contender in Baltimore. However, this is a team with much inexperience. They will need to mature quickly if they want to keep pace with the rival Yankees.
This season, Cinderella also has a twin sister, known as the Oakland Athletics. Who would have thought a team thirteen games behind first place Texas would win the division on the final day of the season? This same team features an all rookie pitching staff, and many position players no one has ever heard of. For example, Josh Reddick hit 32 home runs. Josh who? Exactly. Billy Beane’s acclaimed “moneyball” style continues to pay dividends out in Oakland. However, the young Athletics will need to prepare for the vastly experienced Detroit Tigers–a team that features arguably the best pitcher (Justin Verlander) and batter (Miguel Cabrera) in the game today.
Now for controversy. The one game wild card playoff between the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves contained one of the most controversial, and frankly, worst decisions in playoff baseball history. The “infield fly” late in the game, that should not have been ruled an out, seemingly doomed the Braves. The fact that your typical bloop hit was transformed into an out was just absurd. The pressure on the umpires to get it right is obviously quite immense, but simply cannot happen in a game of these stakes. The Cards will now move on to face the team with the best record in baseball, the Washington Nationals.
So after just a few wild card games, we have seen franchises make magical runs back into the post season and an umpiring decision that will never be forgotten. Who knows what’s next? Only October has the answer.