The Major League Baseball playoffs are entering their close, with the World Series matchup finally set as the Houston Astros vs. the Atlanta Braves. Both teams were able to beat out the rest of the competition to punch their ticket into the championship round.
Representing the National League is the Atlanta Braves, who ran a successful 88-73 campaign against their NL East foes. In their last two World Series appearances in 1996 and 1999, they lost to the New York Yankees both times. The year prior to this string of poor championship performances, however, the 1995 Braves were able to take the win back to the city of Atalnta with a 4-2 series win over the Cleveland Indians (who are now known as the Cleveland Guardians).
Within the last two decades, however, the Houston Astros have had much more recent postseason success. The 2005 season saw the Astros getting swept by the Chicago White Sox in the final round. The Astros won the 2017 World Series in a seven-game battle against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and fell to the Washington Nationals in 2019’s championship round. Compared to the Atlanta Braves’ recent playoff performance, the Astros are clearly more battle-tested in the high pressure atmosphere of the World Series.
Many fans of the league see this storyline shaping out like a children’s story, where the hero saves the day and is able to thwart the plans of the villain. In reality, that case can be made about the Braves and Astros, respectively.
The Astros have been in the spotlight of Major League Baseball ever since their 2017 win, because many feel as though the legitimacy and integrity of the game was ruined in such a scandal. According to an article written by NPR, the Astros were able to create a system that effectively stole pitchers’ signs that their catcher used for calling a certain type of pitch; for example, if the catcher called a fastball by signaling the correlating number, the Astros dugout would bang on a trash can for that call, letting the batter at the plate know what was coming.
This gave the Astros a clear advantage over the Dodgers when they won the World Series in 2017, and it seems as though the cheating scandal still looms over them, even to this day. According to an article by the Washington Post, fans should not be so quick to forgive the Astros for this incredible lack of integrity. It seems as though the dust has settled with the scandal, however, and the league is attempting to move past that part of its history.
In the regular season, the Braves looked like an average team at best, hovering around second and third in the NL East division for most of the season. It was not until the latter half of the season that they began to pick up steam.
According to an article and graphic by CBS Sports, through the playoffs, the Braves have only allowed a few quirks in their play as they confirmed their spot in the League Division Series (NLDS) without playing a wild card game (which is an opportunity given to lower-seeded teams). After a clean sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers and a six-game series against the Dodgers, the Braves earned their spot in the World Series.
In the American League, the Astros had very little trouble outlasting the competition. Similar to the Braves, the Astros did not play in a wildcard game, and routed the White Sox in a 4-1 series. The Astros needed only one extra game to do the same to the Boston Red Sox, who they finished off in the semifinal round of the playoffs to advance to the World Series.
An article by SportingNews.com outlines the calendar of each game’s date and start time, as well as the scores of each game after they finish. The series has seen the Braves take charge early on, with the team winning two games in a row after splitting the first two games to make the series 3-1. On Halloween night, the Astros were able to secure a 9-5 come-from-behind win which put pressure on the Braves, but the Astros remain on the brink of elimination regardless.
Game 6 will be played on Tuesday, November 2 at 8:09pm, where the Braves will look to send the Astros home and bring a title back to the city of Atlanta.