October 21, 2015 [LINK / comment]

Blue October: Cubs, Mets, Royals, Blue Jays advance

And now for something completely different: No matter who wins the American League and National League Championship Series this year, one thing is certain: the team that ends up winning the World Series will be wearing blue uniforms! When the 2015 season got underway, most baseball fans probably expected a "Red October," with teams like the Cardinals, Nationals, and Angels going deep into the postseason. Not quite. With only one of the four surviving teams having made it to the postseason last year (the Kansas City Royals), it is certainly a refreshing change of pace. The Royals themselves were a big surprise last year, and among the other three teams this year, the most recent postseason appearance was by the Cubs in 2008. (They actually won the NL East two years in a row.) The Mets' only postseason appearance over the last decade was in 2006, when they made it to the NLCS and lost to the Cardinals. And of course, the Blue Jays' last postseason appearance was in 1993, when they won the World Series.

Windy City blues

The Cubs showed they are for real when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals three games straight after dropping the opener in St. Louis last week. Jake Arrieta, Kyle Schwarber, and [Javier Baez] Josh Donaldson* all proved themselves worthy of a championship, and spirits were high on the north side of Chicago. Schwarber's home run to the very top of the new scoreboard in right field was particular impressive, as was his home run into the Allegheny River two weeks ago, when the Cubs beat the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game. But because of the flukey MLB playoff system, the Cubs had to start the NLCS on the road, even though they had a much higher regular-season winning percentage than the Mets, and even though they were in the higher-seeded bracket, beating the team with the highest winning percentage in all of baseball. But solid pitching from Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jason DeGrom proved too much for the Cubbies, who just could not get hits. That combined with the awesome slugging of Daniel Murphy, who has tied a major league record by hitting a home run in five consecutive postseason games, have put the Cubs on the brink of elimination.

But lest you lose all hope for the Cubs this year, bear in mind that another team with a long history of bad luck and losing records (the Boston Red Sox) was in a similarly hopeless position in the [2004] American League Championship Series, being down three games to none against the New York Yankees. And the rest was history...

And if you are still a skeptic, keep in mind the movie Back To the Future: Part II, in which they travel 30 years forward to the year 2015, when the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. (They beat an imaginary Miami team, which did not come into existence until the 1990s, and was not called "Miami" until a few years ago.) Science!

* UPDATE / ERRATUM: D'oh! Josh Donaldson is also worthy of a championship, but obviously he plays for the Blue Jays, not the Cubs! The Blue Jays avoided elimination this afternoon with a 7-1 victory over the Royals, as Chris Colabello put the Blue Jays on top in the second inning with a solo home run. Nobody scored after that until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, after which the home team scored four runs, capped by a three-run double by Troy Tulowitzki. The five-run lead proved to be more than enough for the Blue Jays to hang on to win ALCS Game 5, so the series returns to Kansas City with a 3-2 balance in favor of the Royals.

Wrigley Field update?

If I can possibly manage it, I will finish updating the Wrigley Field diagrams before game time at 8:00 EDT. I have also been putting a lot of work into the stadiums of other postseason teams, including the Mets and Astros.