When the 2020 MLB Playoffs started, there was a lot of talk about how a brand new COVID-era format was allowing more teams to be involved than ever before in a lightning fast, best-of-three game Wild Card round.
What if a not-so-good team in the regular season gets hot, wins two quick games, and knocks out a very good team? Is that really fair?
Well, a few weeks later, and the 2020 World Series is upon us. And lo and behold, the two remaining teams—the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays—were indeed the two best teams in the regular season. So it looks like the system works after all!
Not that it was easy for either club.
Despite marching smoothly through earlier rounds, both of these teams had to dig deep in their respective league championship series to get here (these are the final two showdowns before the World Series).
For L.A., their opponent was a tricky Atlanta Braves team. Atlanta won the first two games of the seven game series, and then went up 3-games-to-1. One more win, and they were off to the World Series! But with no margin for error, the Dodgers locked things down. They won the final three games in a row to send the shocked Braves packing.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was sitting pretty with a 3-games-to-zero lead against the Houston Astros. But winning that fourth game against the 2017 Champs proved very difficult. Houston won. Then won again. Then won again. With their back suddenly to the wall, the Rays finally put it together in the seventh game, beating the Astros and reaching only the second World Series in team history. (Which is probably for the best this year.)
Who has the edge?
So now that the Dodgers and Rays are set to face each other, who has the edge over the other? That probably comes down to answering one simple question.
Do you favour experience and stars? Or youthful excitement and fearlessness?
For the Rays, this is all very new territory. They haven't been in the World Series since 2008, and have never won it. Their team is well-balanced, but doesn't really have many big names. Instead they've made their march to the 2020 World Series on the back of smooth communication, resilience, and the belief that anything is possible.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have been baseball's best team over the past five years. They went to the 2017 and 2018 World Series. They have the best pitcher of his era in Clayton Kershaw. Their roster is full of powerhouse superstars, including Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts. And yet ... this group just can't seem to find a way to win it all. In fact, the Dodgers haven't won a World Series in 32 years, since 1988.
Whatever happens across this series, one team is going to end a big drought. Will the Rays join the NHL's Lightning in making it a championship autumn in Tampa Bay? Or will the Dodgers finally get it done?
Tune in starting tonight to find out!