MLB playoffs have begun overcoming team infection rates of COVID-19.
By Mark Molz
While uncertainty and COVID-19 plagued the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the regular season has finally concluded and the playoffs have officially begun.
When the MLB resumed on July 23, four months after its original start date, there were many concerns on how long it was going to take before COVID-19 put a halt to baseball activities. Those concerns lasted less than a week when the Miami Marlins had their season postponed just four days into game play due to an outbreak within the team, drastically altering the rest of their schedule.
Not too long after, the St. Louis Cardinals were infected with an outbreak putting them in a similar situation as the Miami Marlins. Rob Manfred, the league's commissioner, threatened to shut down the season if the teams didn’t do a better job managing the virus. However, despite all the drama and panic ensued, the regular season finished on Sunday and the playoffs are underway.
Although the season was a short 60 games, 102 less than the usual number, it still proved to be full of surprises and disappointments.
Teams that exceeded their expectations include the San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins. Despite dealing with issues involving COVID-19 and coming off a 105 loss season the Marlins were able to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003, and only the third time in their history with a record of 31-29.
Fun Fact: Marlins have never lost a playoff series in their postseason history, so watch out!
Meanwhile, the Padres were able to finish with the second best record in the National League and coined the nickname “Slam Diego” thanks to their young and exciting talent. 21 year-old phenom Fernando Tatis and all-star Manny Machado led the charge in their shortened season.
When thinking of disappointments, the Washington Nationals initially comes to mind. Coming off a World Series Championship in 2019 they strung together a disheartening 26-34 record, finishing last in the National League East. Losing one of their star players Anthony Rendon with a move to the west coast doesn’t help their case, but a last place finish should still come as a disappointment after finishing the previous season on top.
While it was a disappointing season indeed, the Nationals can still find a positive. Juan Soto, the 21 year-old phenom finished the year with a .351 batting average and winning the batting title, becoming the youngest player in the history of the National League to accomplish this feat.
Another team that disappointed, yet again, were the Los Angeles Angels. Finishing fourth in the American league West, this year has been more of the same for the Angels. Mike Trout had another MVP type season, Shohei Otani disappointed on the mound and at the plate batting a dismal .190, and the signing of last year's World Series champ in Anthony Rendon did not help their playoff push.
While the Angels are attempting to solve their never ending problems, the team across town is enjoying their eighth consecutive year atop the National League West. With the best record in the MLB at 43-17 the Los Angeles Dodgers are once again on their quest to hoisting the World Series trophy they have long been after.
Even though the regular season was lowered to just 60 games this season this year's playoffs has taken an exciting twist. The postseason this year will consist of a total of sixteen teams, which is six more than the usual number of 10 and should be full of endless excitement.
Will the Astros make it back? Even though their trash cans will forsure be heard with the absence of fans. The A’s have finally won a playoff series beating the White Sox 6-4 in the Wild Card Series, but can they keep their winning ways? Will the Marlins keep their streak of playoff series win streak alive?
There are a lot of things to look out for this postseason and while a COVID-19 tainted season provided some good and bad moments it is time to enjoy some playoff baseball. With an expanded field of teams we should expect some exciting moments to come our way with the hope COVID-19 stays clear.
Melanie Moyer '22,