As you probably were (not) aware of, the Major League Baseball playoffs begin tonight with a play-in game between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics. They continue tomorrow with the other play-in game (San Francisco Giants-Pittsburgh Pirates) before the real series start on Thursday.
If none of that made any sense, fear not! Blog is here to explain things.
All you need to know about the way the playoffs work is this: five teams in each league (American and National) make it. The two worst in each league–the ones already named above–play a single game against each other to determine who goes on and who goes home. Then the remaining eight teams are paired off into four “Division Series” in which the first team to win three games wins. Then the remaining four teams are paired up in “Championship Series” in which the first team to four games wins. Then the last two teams–the winners of the American and National Leagues, respectively–play in the World Series, which is also won by the first team to four games. The winner of the World Series wins everything!
But, you ask, which team should I root for? Or, more accurately, which teams are playing? Or perhaps, most accurately, why should I care? The final question we can’t answer, besides that baseball is, uh, our national pastime.
But consider: despite all the talk about the demise of baseball, revenues are at an all-time high and local TV ratings are (generally) very strong. So other people care, which means you should too! Now, to answer the other two questions, here’s a beginners rundown of the teams competing this October:
Kansas City Royals
Two-sentence bio: The Royals are among the lovable underdogs of the year, having made their first playoffs in 29 years (29 years!!!!). Unfortunately, they’re not actually that good, having made it in despite one of the worst offenses in the league; they’ll rely on pitching and defense to advance past the play-in game and truly break their playoff-free streak.
Informed-sounding comment: “Boy, those Royals sure get going on the basepaths, don’t they?” [This is a reference to the team's ability to steal a lot of bases.]
Players to name-drop: Starting pitcher James Shields; Closer Greg Holland; Left fielder Alex Gordon [above left]; Catcher Salvador Perez.
Most fun name: Mike Moustakas (third baseman).
Uniform quality: The Royals recently brought back their baby blue shirts to great effect, making them one of the more well-dressed teams around.
Should you root for them? Probably, yeah. Everyone loves a Cinderella story.