Mariners hang on to their playoff hopes
Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer
While one sports season is just beginning, another is coming to an end. Major League Baseball (MLB) has seen its shortened season during the pandemic as nothing short of a success. The MLB normally starts with spring training in March and the regular season rolls in through April, but with the presence of COVID-19, hopes of a MLB season seemed far and long lost.
After numerous talks between players and organizations, the MLB began its shortened 60 game season at the end of July. This also came with the decision to not have any fans in stadiums and teams having to stay with one another during the duration of the season. With games cut from a normal 162 game schedule, teams needed to rely on hot starts by players, and as the end of the regular season approaches, many surprises are beginning to unfold.
The MLB playoffs now feature 16 teams, with six more than normal. This means that everything is up in the air for several teams. Following the wild card games from Sept. 29th through Oct. 2nd, every division series game will be played in either San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, or Arlington, Texas. This was proposed as a solution to help prevent the spread of teams having to travel back and forth between their respective stadiums, similar to the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) bubble solution.
This did not come easy, as the Miami Marlins were the first team to contract a serious case of COVID-19 as over 10 players and staff were infected in the beginning of the season, leaving them to a mere eight games played nearly through the first three weeks of regular season play.
In simplest terms, eight teams from the National and American League will make the playoff and move forward from there. Instead of competing within divisions entirely, having the benefit of a good overall record will get teams into the playoffs. Each division will have one winner and the final five teams will battle for the best record. This ultimately means that five teams from the same division can make the playoffs, if their records show it; but this is only an example as it will likely not happen.
This new implementation of the playoffs gave teams like the Miami Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, and the rebuilding San Francisco Giants, hope of sneaking into the playoffs. The greatest leap in improvement is from two division leaders in the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox.
As of the middle of Sept., the White Sox lead the American League with the best record and control of the Central division. On the other hand, while competing with the always dominant Los Angeles Dodgers, the Padres are sitting in second place in the West division and have the second-best record in the National League.
Speaking of surprises, Mariners fans should not lose hope. With one of the youngest teams and an up and coming farm system, Seattle making the playoffs was a laughing joke at the beginning of the year. Yet, with the dominance of Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Lewis and other role players, the Mariners are only one game back of the second place Houston Astros, and four games back of the wild card spot.
If baseball fans know anything about the sport, it is just how unexpected the game can be at any given time. If the Mariners continue to play the same great baseball they have been since the beginning of Sept., nobody really knows what can happen. So, keep those fingers crossed.