Fall baseball, which crowns both league champions, is a bloodbath.
Teams have risen above expectations in the Wild Card Series (WCS) and the Division Series (DS), so it’s hard to distinguish between the two league championship series.
The American League Championship Series (ALCS) will be decided in a best-of-seven series with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers tied at three games apiece. Texas took Game 6 at Minute Maid Park on Nov. 23 (ET), effectively combining 10 hits, including a walk-off home run by Adolis Garcia, to win 9-2.
While the Astros were expected to take Game 3, 4, and 5 at Globe Life Field, with three straight wins by the Astros to sweep the series 3-2, the Astros’ focus proved to be the difference in Game 6. In particular, Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi pitched six and a third innings of five-hit ball to earn his fourth straight postseason victory and become the “Hero of Fall Ball.굿모닝토토
Philadelphia leads the National League Championship Series (NLCS) 3-2 heading into Game 5. Ace Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies and Meryl Kelly for Arizona in Game 6 on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.
Nola pitched six innings of three-hit ball in Game 2 on April 18, while Kelly took the loss after giving up four runs on three hits in 5⅔ innings. However, the series is not a foregone conclusion. If the A’s can replicate their game-changing performance of dropping Games 1 and 2 on the road and then coming back to win Games 3 and 4 at home, the NLCS could go to seven games.
There are four possible World Series matchups this year. I don’t know about you, but outside of Houston and Philadelphia, few fans want to see a repeat of last year’s World Series. For storytelling, buzz, and freshness, it would be great to see Texas and Arizona battle for supremacy in the World Series after 12 and 22 years, respectively.
Arizona’s Alex Manoa circles the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS in Los Angeles, Calif. on Monday. UPI Yonhap
Houston and Philadelphia are powerhouses compared to Texas and Arizona.
In a ranking of Major League Baseball team values released by Forbes in March, Houston was 11th out of 30 teams at $2.25 billion, while Texas was 12th at $2.25 billion. Compared to their 2022 valuations, Houston’s is up 14% and Texas’ is up 9%, with Houston winning the World Series last year pushing it ahead of Texas.
Philadelphia is ninth at $2.575 billion and the Arizona Diamondbacks are nearly half that at $1.38 billion. Philadelphia also saw a 12% increase last year after winning the NL Championship and finishing as World Series runners-up, while Arizona’s was unchanged from 2022. Simply put, the Phillies are an absolute powerhouse in Arizona. Even looking at this season’s opening payroll, Philadelphia ranks fourth with $243 million and Arizona ranks 21st with $164.7 million.
Still, in terms of unfavorability, Philadelphia is no match for Houston.
Houston and Texas face off in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS on Nov. 21. AFP
After Houston won Game 5 of the ALCS on Nov. 21 on Jose Altuve’s game-winning three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, local media commented that the bench clearing in the eighth inning turned the tide in Houston’s favor. However, fans are not looking kindly on the Astros for throwing an intentional pitch to Adolis Garcia.
In a Feb. 22 article titled “Astros’ Altuve leaves a complicated legacy,” ESPN reporter Jeff Passan wrote: “Here in Houston, Altuve is safe from the boos, the anger, the disgust, the emotions his mere presence evokes. (He’s a villain in 29 other stadiums, but now he’s back home’ and ‘Altuve isn’t just a hero in Houston, he’s an absolute hero. He’s the face of Houston, and he’s trying to lead the Astros to their first back-to-back World Series championships this century. He’s untouchable in Houston. But other than that, he is defined, fairly or not, as the man who executed the sign stealing that occurred during Houston’s first World Series win.
The reference to the 2017 World Series sign-stealing scandal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, in which Houston was branded an “unlikable” team, underscores the fact that Altuve’s postseason exploits, of which he played a central role, have not been welcomed outside of Houston.