The Major League Baseball regular season is over and the playoffs are ready to begin with the American League Wild Card game tonight. The New York Yankees, the most successful team in the history of baseball take on the young, upstart Houston Astros, who only recently moved into the league.
The Astros struggled in the final weeks of the season and barely hung on by a single game, over the Los Angeles Angels. They can thank an improbable 5-run rally with two outs in the ninth inning against the Angels on September 13 for making the difference between playing tonight and watching.
The Yankees also limped to the finish, after losing their MVP Mark Texeira to injury. They are also jarred by the news that CC Sabathia has checked into rehab for alcohol abuse. This will only be relevant if the Yankees survive beyond today. One game is definitely a crap shoot, but in a battle of young versus old, youth is usually the better bet. I’ll expect the Astros to advance.
Personally, I think these are the two weakest teams in the playoffs. Normally, as the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals demonstrated last year, any team that reaches the post season has the potential to win it all. But I would be stunned, if the Astros or Yankees reach the 2015 World Series.
In contrast, the National League Wild Card game might be a matchup of the two best teams in baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs are two young teams on the rise. As fate would have it, they shared a division with the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals. So Gerritt Cole will face-off against Jake Arrieta in a winner-take-all game that will be no fun for hitters. If the Pirates have a weakness, it’s their porous defense. In a tight ballgame it might cost them. Arrieta has been virtually unhittable in the second half of the season. Just ask the Dodgers. So the Cubs have a good chance to advance. Aside from Pirate fans, who wouldn’t want to see a Cubs versus Cardinals brawl.