10 things you’ll love about: The MLB Playoffs

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1. The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates made the playoffs­­—or even had a winning season—was 1992. This was the year the Blue Jays won the World Series for the first time. This was also the year when the Rugrats first crawled their way onto the screen.

2. Droughts are ending all over the place, with Marlon Byrd of the Pirates and David DeJesus of the Tampa Bay Rays finally getting a shot at October baseball. Both have been around the major leagues for over a decade, and both were traded to their respective teams around a month before the end of the regular season.

3. Meanwhile, Beantown hero David Ortiz and St. Louis Cardinal, Adam Wainwright will each be going to the post-season for his eighth try at a World Series ring. Both have won the World Series twice: Wainwright in 2006 and 2011 and Ortiz in 2007 and 2010.

4. While Big Papi is a legendary post-season hitter, he doesn’t even come close to Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran’s level. He is the all-time playoff leader in slugging (.782), and his home run in game one of the NLDS was his 15th post-season home run, moving him into third place (tied with Babe Ruth) for the all-time lead. As if this weren’t impressive enough, he’s done it all in only 34 post-season games.

5. Speaking of not wasting time: after a horrendous start to the regular season, the Dodgers punched their ticket to the post-season with a historic 42-8 tear from late-June to mid-August. The NL West champions, last place in their division by a wide margin back in June, were the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff berth.

6. If you think that’s timely, take a look at what the St. Louis Cardinals have done this year with men on base. Through the regular season, the Cards hit an incredible .330 with runners in scoring position (RISP)—far and away the highest mark recorded since the stat was established in 1974. First-baseman Allen Craig leads the pack at a blistering clip of .454. But not even Craig has been as clutch as…

7. … The Tampa Bay Rays, who have now played an astounding three win-or-go-home games since 2011—and have won every time. With their season on the line, the Rays have survived against the Yankees, the Rangers and the Indians. These are teams with payrolls that double and triple that of Tampa Bay, who have the third lowest payroll in the league this year after spending three million less than…

8. …. The Oakland Athletics—the fourth thriftiest team in baseball this season. If we compare the ‘Moneyball’ era teams from 2000-2001 with the A’s two most recent seasons, we get a remarkably similar picture. The winning percentages are 0.597 to 0.583; both are the second best marks in the game. Again, they’re doing it without breaking the bank. Once inflation is incorporated, the 2012-2013 A’s account for 1.9 per cent of the total league payroll—a paltry 0.1 increase from the ‘Moneyball’ A’s 1.8 per cent share.  Billy Beane hasn’t lost his touch, and, if class and restraint wins you ball games…

9. … The Atlanta Braves should be taking notes.  The NL East Champs have not made any friends with their escapades down the home stretch of the regular season. The Braves have cleared the benches over a 20-year-old pitcher lingering at home plate after hitting his first career home run, and by physically stopping an opposing team’s player from crossing home plate because he was “disrespecting the game.” If a team wants to take things over the top, they need a better reason…

10. … Like playing in its first postseason game in twenty-one years.  On a night where baseball fans across the world were cheering for Pittsburgh, the atmosphere inside PNC Park was electric. In front of a record attendance crowd of 40,487, 36-year-old journeyman Marlon Byrd—in his first playoff at-bat of his life—sent Johnny Cueto’s fastball into the stands.  That is baseball magic. It is for moments like these that you should watch the MLB Playoffs this October.