What a finish to the regular baseball season. Now, the fun starts for 10 teams. 20 others are home.
The new second wildcard has changed the postseason experience we’ve come to know.
The two wildcard teams in each league meet in a one-game playoff on Friday, which is different. The normal follows: best-of-5 Division Series, best-of-7 League Championship Series and best-of-7 World Series.
What’s good for baseball is that there are six new teams, granted two coming from the additional wildcard. Unimaginable and improbable are the Orioles and A’s.
Orioles were 10 back of the Yankees on July 18, caught them Sept. 4 and tied them 10 times in September before finishing second. Not bad for a team that made 178 roster moves and used 25 different pitchers. A’s held sole possession of first place for one day when they won the final game. They have five rookie starters, starting something like 104 times. They hit .238 as a team put can pound the ball.
So, here’s a capsule of the 10 postseason teams with reasons why to root for and against?
Yankees: Plenty of postseason experience. Can the bullpen hold up?
Numbers: 245 homers led the universe. Led AL with 45 comeback wins.
Ex-Phillies: OF Ibanez; RHP Garcia.
For: Ibanez, looking for his first ring. Jeter is a class person.
Against: Losing to them in 1950 was a childhood blow; losing to them in 2009 was a senior citizens blow.
Tigers: Gigantic 1-2 punch in Cabrera and Fielder (74 HR, 247 RBI). Ankle of 16-game winner, Scherzer?
Numbers: Fewest wins (88) of postseason clubs. 89 homers by other than Cabrera/Fielder.
Ex-Phillies: OF Berry, once a Phillies minor leaguer.
For: Another ring for Leyland.
Against: 88 season wins.
Rangers: Plenty of postseason experience. Can they overcome the sting of the A’s? Overcome losing a 5-game lead with 9 left? (erasing 1964 Phillies ?)
Numbers: Led the world with 808 runs scored. Allowed 707 runs, most of any postseason team.
Ex-Phillies: RHP Oswalt, CH Maddux.
For: Deserve to win after losing last two World Series.
Against: Just because.
A’s: Who are these guys? Trailed Texas by 13 on 6/30. Can momentum continue?
Numbers: 53 wins by rookie pitchers, ML record. 3rd AL worst 111 errors. No postseason experience but they are white-hot.
Ex-Phillies: LHP Blackley/OF/1B Moss, played at Lehigh Valley one time.
For: Because they are the underdogs. The franchise once lived in Philadelphia.
Against: Ballpark. Uniform colors.
Orioles: Top closer, plenty of power. Starting pitching?
Numbers: 29-9, 1-run games; 75-1, leading after 8; 16-2, extra inning games, winning last 16.
Ex-Phillies: DH Thome, OF Chavez, CH Russell
For: Ring for Thome.
Against: Still bitter about the I-95 World Series loss to them in 1983!
Cardinals: Lost Carpenter/Pujols/LaRusso but reached postseason. Their worst day is Friday, 9-17. They play at Braves on Friday.
Numbers: .271 team average, 4th best in MLB. Biggest inning is 1st, 115 runs; 58 wins when score 1st.
Ex-Phillies: RHP Lohse, CH Mabry.
For: Always liked the city. Great baseball tradition.
Against: Still remember what they did to the Phillies a year ago.
Nationals: Most wins in baseball, 98. Bullpen and playoff experience?
Numbers: NL’s lowest ERA, 3.33 ERA. Led NL East 165 of 175-day season.
Ex-Phillies: OF Werth, LHP Gonzalez, MGR Johnson.
For: Teddy Roosevelt finally won a race.
Against: Natitude slogan. Marketing plan: take over their park and keep Phillies fans out.
Braves: Strong, experienced bullpen. Starting rotation?
Numbers: Scored 700 runs. Gave up 600.
Ex-Phillies: OF Bourn, RHP Durbin, CH McDowell.
For: Chipper’s last go-round.
Against: Tom-a-hawk chop.
Reds: Strong bullpen. RH bats vs. Giants RH starters?
Numbers: Among postseason clubs, scored the fewest, 669, but allowed the fewest, 588.
Ex-Phillies: 3B Rolen, INF Valdez, INF Cairo.
For: Dusty Baker deserves a ring.
Against: Mascot, Mr. Red.
Giants: Great starting pitching. Can they score enough runs?
Numbers: 82-2 leading after 8 innings. 103 home runs, fewest in NL.
Ex-Phillies: OF Pence. Burrell, a scout.
For: Another Bay Area World Series with A’s, but without an earthquake.
Against: Winning pennant on our turf in 2010.
Prediction: Reds beat Yankees, 4-2.