By CHARLIE SNYDER
October baseball is upon us, and even without fans, this year's postseason is set to be one to remember.
With the last of 60 regular season games being played by all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams on Sep. 27, postseason matchups have officially been set. In addition, for the first time in MLB history, 16 teams have been admitted to the playoffs, in contrast to the usual 10. This new format of seeding is sure to spice up the MLB bubble, making this year's playoffs one of the best we have seen in recent years.
Of course, recent years have not had to deal with the impact of a global pandemic, so the MLB has made some significant adjustments. All games will be played at one of four locations: Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Arlington.
Los Angeles is set to host half of the American League Divisional Series, while San Diego is set to host half the American League Divisional Series as well as the American League Championship Series. Houston is set to host half of the National League Divisional Series, while Arlington is set to host half the National League Divisional Series, the National League Championship Series and most importantly, the World Series. These four cities will be venues for a new playoff format that will now showcase over half the league.
Because of the shortened regular season, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred decided that it would only be fair for three extra teams to make the playoffs for each league. Due to this rule, more fans will be able to root for their teams in October. Two fan bases that should be particularly happy with the rule change are the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewer die-hards. Houston and Milwaukee became the first ever MLB teams to make the postseason with losing records (29-31 for each). These additional teams playing are sure to boost views and revenue, all while giving more fans a reason to cheer.
Three fan bases that will get to cheer for the first time in over a decade will also be heavily inclined to see what this postseason has in store. The Miami Marlins have clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 17 years; the San Diego Padres have made it to the postseason for the first time in 14 years and the Chicago White Sox have clinched a playoff berth for the first time in 12 years. With this being the first time these teams have had championship hopes in over a decade, you can bet that all three cities will be on the edge of their seats for every pitch.
If there is one fan base that will be biting their nails through it all, it will be the ever so loyal Los Angeles Dodger fans. This will be the eighth year straight that the Dodgers have made the playoffs, yet not once has it resulted in a championship for Los Angeles. They have lost in the Divisional Series 3 times (2014, 2015, 2019), in the Championship Series twice (2013, 2016) and in the World Series back to back years (2017, 2018).
Though, there are signs of hope for this year. The Dodgers performed at an MLB best with 43 wins and 17 losses during the regular season. Much of this was credited to offseason pickup and MLB superstar Mookie Betts, who slugged his way to 16 homers and 39 RBI’s (runs batted in) in only 55 games played. If the Dodgers can continue to play like they did during the regular season, then they should have no problem steamrolling their way back to the world series. But can they win it all? It has been over 30 years since the best team in baseball was in Los Angeles, and this Dodger team wants to change that.
Of course, there are 15 other teams who also want to hold that crown. The beauty of baseball is that there really is no way to tell who will take it all. It has been over 20 years since there has been a repeat champion, and with the defending champion Washington Nationals being eliminated from contention, it is already impossible for that to happen this year. The only way to accurately predict who will be crowned 2020 MLB champions is by kicking our feet back and enjoying the show set to start on Sep. 29.