By Khushi Patel
The top teams from the baseball’s National and American leagues -- the Dodgers and the Rays -- will face off in a best of seven World Series starting Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. to see who will take home the coveted Commissioner’s Trophy.
Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros forced a Game 7 tiebreaker in their respective League Championship Series. The Astros fell short of a win in Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a final score of 4-2. On the other hand, the Dodgers were able to pull forward with a Cody Bellinger home run and ultimately get a 4-3 win and the remaining spot in the World Series.
With both the Sox and Cubs making it to the playoffs, Chicago’s teams had some of their best seasons in recent years.
The White Sox ended their regular season with a record of 35-25, and after 12 years without a playoff berth, they made it to the postseason. They ultimately left in the first round of the playoffs with a 1-2 series loss against the Oakland Athletics.
The Cubs went 34-26 during the regular season with first year manager, David Ross. They also went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Marlins, who swept the series 2-0.
Even with both Chicago teams out of the postseason, the fans are pulling for their next favorites, “I’m really hoping the Dodgers go all the way. I'm hoping they don’t play the Astros, I don't wanna see them again. I feel like the Rays are gonna clutch. I have a feeling,” senior Connor Tomisc predicted, earlier in the playoffs.
It looks like Tomsic’s wishes came true.
Even though the 60 games of the shortened 2020 season provided baseball players and fans their favorite American pastime in the middle of a global pandemic, “I feel like they could’ve gotten away with playing a regular schedule and not just against teams in their own division,” senior Joe Langridge said.
There are bound to be mixed emotions with all the changes due to the pandemic but baseball players have had to rethink what happens on the field and in the dugout: “when you celebrate it’s hard to not hug your teammates, chew gum, spit sunflower seeds, or high five someone. Those little things kind of are baseball,” Varsity baseball coach, Michael Randazzo, said.
Another big change for this week’s World Series is location: none will be played in Tampa or Los Angeles. Instead all games are being held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas -- home of the Texas Rangers.
The expanded playoffs for this season allowed for 16 teams to make the postseason as opposed to the usual 10. “It was not surprising, they just had to play decent enough,” Langridge said about the Cubs and Soxs making the playoffs.
The restrictions on fans allowed in stadiums has meant different things to different people, “I feel like they might have been less motivated because there weren’t all those people watching them play. Obviously there are still people watching them on TV, but in person it's different, it's like ‘oh it's kinda like a practice,’” senior Madeleine Larson said.
However, that’s not the same story for others. “I think it depends on the team, like the Cubs for instance did better with crowds. They always tried pumping up the audience. Whereas some younger players, that might have had too much pressure against teams with crowds, might have done better without the crowds,” Randazzo said.
For the league championships and for the World Series, MLB decided to allow a limited number of fans to be present, with 11,500 tickets available for each game.
During games, masks have been required to be worn by anyone not on the field playing, which has created some unusual scenes this season. “It was kind of funny seeing the coaches come out to yell at the umpires. They had to stand back and then put the masks on and then they could go yell at them,” Tomsic said.
Although the MLB set restrictions to keep the players and other personnel safe, some things seemed to be hard to control such as, “the bench clearing brawls, but those were inevitable,” Langridge explained. Some players initially flouted the rules restricting what they could do off the field, but the MLB was quick to crack down on players leaving the hotels during away games in hopes to lower the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
With the White Sox recently parting ways with manager Rick Renteria, they are on the hunt for a new one who can lead this team and continue to surprise fans with more winning seasons. “I was pretty stoked. They were playing really well and, technically, the rebuild wasn’t supposed to be peak until next year, so I think they’re a little ahead of schedule,” Langridge said about the growing talent on the Sox.
The MLB was able to take a bad situation in the pandemic, keep tradition alive, and turn it into something that could keep Americans entertained in such unprecedented times. “It was good that they played this year because baseball is something that makes people happy so during tough times people can resort to it,” said Larson.