Sometimes in the world of sports, it can feel like everything is happening at once. Now is one of those times.
The NHL and NFL are both back, the NBA starts tomorrow, European soccer is in full swing, and the MLS Cup playoffs started last weekend, too. Whew!
But when you say "October" in North American sports, there is still one event the reigns supreme: the World Series. The final series in the MLB playoffs is a long-standing tradition — this is the 115th baseball championship. Wow! This time, we'll see the Houston Astros face off against the Washington Nationals. To get you ready for a bit of an unusual showdown, let's take a look at these two clubs and how they got to the final stage.
From zeroes to heroes
It wasn't all that long ago that the Houston Astros were the worst team in baseball. We're talking year after year of difficult seasons. But then management worked on rebuilding with excellent players all ready to hit their prime at the same time, like José Altuve and George Springer. The result?
They won their division three straight years, captured their first-ever World Series in 2017, and had the best record in all of baseball this year. They have incredible pitching, including veterans Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zach Greinke. And from Alex Bergman to Carlos Correa, their lineup is full of experience.
In beating the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees to reach the World Series, they lost a few games, but those were both really strong teams. They've been tested and passed with flying colours. With few weaknesses and tons of confidence, another championship looks likely.
From Expos to Nationals
Fifteen years ago, the city of Washington, D.C. got its first baseball team since 1971: The Washington Nationals. Their gain was Montreal's loss, though. Before that, the team had been the Montreal Expos (Canada's first MLB team, formed in 1969).
The first few years in Washington were a struggle, but fortunes changed when the team drafted a sensational young player, Bryce Harper. Along with Anaheim's Mike Trout, Harper is considered the best player of his generation, and he helped send the Nationals to the playoffs again and again... where they lost again and again. Then this summer, Harper signed a deal to play on the Philadelphia Phillies. For poor Washington, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Instead of fading without their former best player, they came together. They won their final eight games to stampede into the playoffs. Then they beat Milwaukee in the wild card game, upset the heavily-favoured Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, and won four more straight games to send the St. Louis Cardinals packing and reach their first World Series. Incredible!
So many unknowns
One team has been on top of baseball for three years. The other wasn't even supposed to be here, and yet has won 16 of their last 18 games. How do you pick between the Astros and the Nationals?
It doesn't help that these two teams haven't played a single game against each other since 2017. What you end up with is the most exciting kind of matchup. A total mystery. What we do know for sure? These clubs have seven games to figure it all out. And we get to watch!
Can't wait for Tuesday night!