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MLB playoff races throwing fans a curveball

Ryan Woerner
Sports Editor

As the metaphorical calendar flips to October, it symbolizes for many the approaching of Halloween. For baseball fans such as myself, however, it symbolizes playoff baseball.

Few foresaw Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw’s postseason collapse.
Few foresaw Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw’s postseason collapse.

Ten teams enter—two of which will be eliminated in a day due to a poorly designed wildcard system brought to you by the ageless Bud Selig—and only one will emerge victorious: the World Series champion. And, for once, I have no idea who it will be. You can’t predict baseball.

In a moment of vanity, I’ll say somewhat confidently that I’m good at predicting these kinds of things. I won my fantasy baseball league this past season. I won my fantasy football league last year, and both of my teams are 5-0 so far. One time I said aloud, “Rodgers to Nelson for a touchdown, this play,” and it happened. This was in 2009 when Jordy had a whopping two touchdown receptions. Despite these, this season I simply can’t predict baseball.

A Twitter account emerged in the last few years called @CantPredictBall, an account devoted to the oddities that occur throughout the MLB season that make baseball exciting. The Twitter accounts of Major League Baseball and the MLB Fan Cave embraced the idea, starting the hashtag, #cantpredictbaseball, which they used throughout the season.

The MLB postseason has had plenty of unexpected twists early on.
The MLB postseason has had plenty of unexpected twists early on.

That hashtag has aptly described the 2014 playoffs thus far. Before the playoffs kicked off, I made a bracket that had the Dodgers, led by the inevitable Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw facing off with the Angels, led by the bat of Mike Trout, a perennial All-Star for the foreseeable future.

My final four were the Dodgers, Angels, Nats and Tigers—three of which are eliminated and one of which (Washington) is facing elimination down 2-1 in the NLDS.

Things like this are exactly what make baseball—particularly Major League Baseball—exciting. The games take three hours, yes, and it’s not too outlandish to expect that a spectator or five may end up falling asleep at the stadium. But the nature of baseball is, in and of itself, exciting.

The Nationals, Dodgers, Tigers and Orioles were the four teams with the best odds, heading into the wildcard games, to win it all. Unless the Nationals win two straight games to top the Giants, three of the top four teams have already been eliminated. Everyone loves an underdog story, right? How can you not be enthralled with the races going on now?

Two-time All-Star and MVP runner-up Mike Trout’s bat could not save the Halo’s season.
Two-time All-Star and MVP runner-up Mike Trout’s bat could not save the Halo’s season.

Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams, down by two runs in the seventh, crushed a Clayton Kershaw curveball—the nastiest in the game—for a three run homer to put his team on top late in the game. The game-winning homer off of the lefty’s bat pushed Kershaw’s playoff ERA to a hearty 7.82.

During the regular season Kershaw’s ERA was 1.77. He gave up one, yes ONE, home run to lefties in 198+ innings pitched during the season. Yet, in about 12 postseason innings Kershaw served up two homers to lefties and 11 earned runs. You can’t predict baseball.

From this point on I’ll take the O’s—my level of confidence for this pick, on a scale of 0-10, very closely resembles the team’s first letter. Nelson Cruz had a very homer-laden regular season and Adam Jones has a nice blend of power, speed and the ability to hit for a solid average. Though their starting pitching leaves a little to be desired, Zach Britton (somehow) made the smooth transition from bad starting pitcher to unhittable closer.

You’re free to make your own predictions, but just remember: you can’t predict baseball.