I hear plenty of reasons on why people do not like watching baseball. It’s too slow. The baseballs are juiced. The season is too long. Pitchers shouldn’t be hitting. (That last one is courtesy of me and all of my American League fans.)
And while I cannot grasp not watching regular season baseball every night for half the year, I understand those are legitimate arguments. Sometimes the games are too slow and take too long; plus a 162-game season is a lot for an average fan to keep up with.
However, I have good news for those average fans. The “boring” side of baseball is over for the 2019 season because October has finally arrived.
Last year, I wrote a column about what makes October the best sports month and of course, I added in things about college football and the start of NBA and NHL seasons. I still look forward to those but let’s be real: Postseason baseball is what makes October so special.
Baseball was my first love as a sports fan and I have plenty of (somewhat faded) memories as a child watching the New York Yankees win championships. Sadly, the earliest one I remember clearly was the Arizona Diamondbacks walk-off win against Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera but that may just be because it is my earliest memory of sports causing me actual pain.
Of course, there are plenty of good memories from October I want to remember. Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series is one of my favorite sports moments of all time and I’m pretty sure I had to convince my parents to let me stay up past my bedtime to watch it.
Sadly, that homer did not lead to another title for the Yankees and we will not even talk about what happened the next season. New York did not make as much noise as usual in the postseason over the next few years but that did not stop me from watching playoff baseball.
No one remembers it and I even have to double check it from time to time but the Chicago White Sox even won a World Series during that span with a few former Birmingham Barons players on the roster. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Colorado Rockies won pennants before the next time I saw my team in a World Series but it was still exciting to watch every year.
The Yankees eventually worked their way back into the mix with the help of a lot of money and won the 2009 World Series to send off some of the legends with one more ring before retiring over the next few seasons. Now, New York is in its longest title drought of my lifetime, and I’m in desperate need of a baseball celebration.
For the first time in the modern era, four teams have won 100-plus games in the regular season and it is set to be another wild postseason. The one-game wild card round started Tuesday night with the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals facing off for a chance at the Los Angeles Dodgers while the Oakland Athletics and Rays are playing for the right to travel to Houston.
My head says to pick the favorites with the Astros and Dodgers meeting in the World Series for the second time in three seasons but I don’t listen to my head when the Yankees are in the postseason. So instead of giving you bias picks, I will just say make sure you tune in to a few games this October.
The atmosphere is different. The pace of the game is different. You will be on the edge of your seat for every pitch even when you have no rooting interest.
Of course, if you do have a rooting interest in the playoffs, I wish you the best of luck and try to enjoy the sport no matter the result. We get postseason baseball only one month a year and we cannot take it for granted.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.