The League Championship Series. Both of Them

Saturday, October 10 2020 @ 12:10 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

We have a Final Four.

And we've been spared a painful, painful dilemma. I don't know what I would have done if confronted with another clash between the Astros and the Yankees. Now I can carry on as usual. It's pretty well impossible for me to cheer for the Rays to actually, you know, win. But I can sure yell with pleasure at the Astros losing. Which is pretty much how I coped with Rays vs Yankees. This will be a rematch of last season's Division Series which the Astros won 3-2, thanks largely to Gerrit Cole who blew the Rays away twice. That won't be happening this time.

I have to admit, in my tender youth - when was that, some ten or fifteen years ago - I never once contemplated the prospect of a Rays-Astros battle for American League supremacy.

The National League gives us Dodgers and Braves, of course. Tradition, it's their thing. These are two ancient franchises, who both started play in the late 19th century. They were far away from their present homes back then - indeed, they were Boston vs New York (okay, Brooklyn. Near enough, damn it!), way back in the day. Way, way back in the day. Both teams picked up their modern nicknames, Braves and Dodgers, roughly 100 years ago, and by then both teams already had histories behind them longer than Tampa Bay's.

These teams do not have a lengthy history with each in the post-season - they've spent their entire history in the same league, and then most of the division era years in the same division. Because, as any one who looks at a map can tell you,  Atlanta and Los Angeles are just obvious natural rivals. (There's a story there, it involves the Cubs...) Anyway, the Dodgers and Braves faced off in the post-season just twice previously, in the Division Series of 2013 and 2018. The Dodgers cruised to victory in four games on both occasions.

The Dodgers have faced Houston just once in post-season play - it was the 2017 World Series, of course. Of the remaining contenders, the two teams that have matched up most often in the post-season are the Braves and Astros. They faced each other in the NL Division Series four times. The Braves swept the Astros in 1997 and 2001, and won in four games in 1999 - the Astros won in five games in 2004.

The Rays have never won a championship. The Dodgers last won in 1988, the Braves in 1995. A generation of failure will suffice. I can regard a victory by any of those three teams with a certain amount of equanimity. But while the old softie in me would kind of like to see Dusty Baker win a championship... sorry. No freaking way. Not with these guys.

Anyway, he won one as a player (1981 Dodgers.) It will have to do.