Well, the baseball gods have spoken, and following a tense weekend matchup that determined the NL champions, we now know who our 2021 World Series contenders will be. The Los Angeles Dodgers put up a good fight, and had the better season record, but it was simply not to be as the Atlanta Braves took the series in game six, sending last year’s champions home. And in the AL, it was everyone’s favorite villains, the Houston Astros, who managed to best a club that hit three grand slams in one postseason, as the Boston Red Sox went packing.
So on Tuesday night, we’ll see the Braves, who haven’t won a World Series since 1995, take on the Houston Astros, whose 2017 win is somewhat marred by later revelations regarding cheating in the regular season.
Who will you be cheering for, if anyone?
And here’s a little fun fact to get you excited (or at least saying “hey that’s cool!)
Braves vs. Astros was the matchup in Dusty Baker's @MLB playing debut -- 53 years ago. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) October 24, 2021
Now on to the links from the weekend!
- Ken Rosenthal looks at the storied career of Dusty Baker, and how this newest chapter will add to his legacy. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Mark Bowman and Brian McTaggart have everything you need to know about the upcoming series in one handy guide.
- Joseph Salvador looks at how big this moment is for the Braves, as they make their first trip to the World Series since 1999.
- Bradford Doolittle looks at the path that brought the 2021 Braves to the World Series against all expectation.
- Stephanie Apstein spotlights the incredible performance of pitcher Tyler Matzek, and how he’s well on his way to being a lifetime hero to Braves fans.
- Ben Clemens assesses the potential rotation issues facing the Astros.
- Speaking of pitching, Andy McCullough looks at the implosion of the Dodgers rotation. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Lots of talk about the Braves, but when it comes to betting, the Astros are the team to beat. Story by David Purdum.
- Jared Diamond looks at how our experience listening to and watching World Series games has evolved over the past 100 years.
- Dan Szymborski gives us a recap of the 2021 AL Central and how all 5 teams fared.
- Meg Rowley reviews the Braves win and how it might put to rest some of the bitter taste left from 2020.
- Will Leitch takes a historical look at some of the best teams ever to not make it to the World Series.
- Jayson Stark’s Weird and Wild looks at the unlikely upcoming series. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- It appears that Oliver Marmol is set to become the new Cardinals manager, according to reports from Ken Rosenthal and MLB dot com.
- The Blue Jays had a fantastic 2021 season but fell short of the postseason. Jays' president and CEO Mark Shapiro has high hopes for 2022, shares Keegan Matheson.
- Michael Ajeto has a fascinating read over at BPro about how players (and most frequently players of color) WANT their names to be pronounced (correctly) versus how fans and broadcasters actually pronounce them (incorrectly) and how in the past this has manifested in players like Henry Aaron being given nicknames they didn’t want or like.
- There’s going to be a Willie Mays diploma NFT, because MLB seems committed to making NFTs a thing, but at least it will benefit the Say Hey Foundation, which helps establish baseball programs for underprivileged kids in Alabama. Mays’ response to the NFT is pretty much exactly how I feel whenever someone mentions NFTs: “I didn’t really understand how these computer tokens worked at first... I had to get them explained to me.” Same, Willie. Same. (Reporting by Tim Kurkjian)
- A lot of people thought 2021 might be a rebuild year for the Red Sox, but they made it all the way to the ALCS. Chad Jennings looks at what this means for them in 2022 and beyond. (The Athletic subscription required.)
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.