- Mike Oz at Big League Stew5 hrs ago
Playoff baseball is upon us. Ten teams have a chance at advancing to the World Series, and they'll need a combination of great performances and great luck to get there. This time of year isn't just about stars excelling. It's also about a player making a big play when it's most needed. Likewise, when you're thinking about the most intriguing players of the postseason, it's not always just a team's biggest star (though in some cases, that player is the most intriguing). Our list of most intriguing players includes guys with a compelling story, guys who could be a hero, guys with a lot on the line. So here they are, 10 players we'll be watching — some for different reasons than others — as the MLB postseason begins. Click the image of Mike Trout above to begin the slideshow and read about each player.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
- - - - - - -
Talk about two teams desperate to win — the Oakland Athletics haven't won consistently since the start of August and the Kansas City Royals haven't even played in the postseason since 1985.
When they enter Tuesday night's AL wild-card game, a good portion of both fanbases will be hoping for the best, but fearing the absolute worst in the back of their minds. Losing sticks with you like that, whether it's short-term, like the Athletics' sluggish second half or long-term, like the Royals nearly 30 years of disappointment.LiveOakland2 - 1Kansas CityFollow Game
Cross one job off the list of open MLB managerial positions.
The Houston Astros have introduced A.J. Hinch as their new manager at a Monday press conference. Hinch is the club's 22nd manager and takes over for Bo Porter, who was fired Sept. 1. The Astros interviewed a number of candidates for the job, both internal and external, but Hinch was their man.
Hinch previously managed the Arizona Diamondbacks for parts of 2009 and 2010. He was only 34 when hired by the D-backs, and went 89-123 as their skipper. Hinch was a catcher for the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals, among others, in his six-year playing career.
After getting the axe in Arizona, he joined the San Diego Padres as their vice president of scouting. He held that job for nearly four years, also becoming the team's assistant general manager. Hinch resigned in August when the Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes.
I used to think Barry Bonds looked like a robot when he started wearing all those protective pads while batting. His mechanical approach to hitting and his nearly perfect eye at the plate didn't make him seem like any less of a robot.
So imagine my surprise when Bonds used his recently created Instagram and Twitter accounts to show us how he's living these days as an advanced life form.
Be careful, Barry. Wearing Google Glass is a slippery slope that can lead to full-on cyborg life. Wearable tech is great, until you realize how much it can enhance your life, you get hooked and soon enough you're using black-market electronics to stay ahead of everyone.
If Bonds starts experimenting with wearable tech for baseball purposes, he may soon want to wear a Darth Vader-like life-enhancing suit so he can return to the MLB to hit homers for eternity. He'd Force-choke anybody getting in his way.
Think about it: Bonds IS baseball's Darth Vader.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
As it stands right now, before the first pitch of the MLB postseason is thrown, there are 10 teams still alive. And any of them can make the World Series.
Sure, some have easier paths. The division winners have a much easier go of it — that's the Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL and the Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles in the AL. The wild-card teams could all be gone after one game — that's AL's Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals and the NL's San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates. It's a do-for-die when the wild-card round starts Tuesday.
Not even Ron Gardenhire was beloved enough in Minnesota to keep his job after four straight 90-loss seasons. The Twins fired their skipper of 13 seasons on Monday morning after the club finished the 2014 season with a 70-92 record.
Patrick Reusse of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis was first to report the news. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan confirmed it.
Source: Ron Gardenhire out as Twins manager. @1500ESPN_Reusse first reported.
The Twins are now in the rare-for-them position of searching for a manager. Gardenhire was hired in 2002, taking over after Tom Kelly held the job from 1986-2001. That's two managers in 28 years, remarkable stability for an MLB franchise. The Twins hadn't fired a manager since Ray Miller in 1986.
The Seattle Mariners didn't make the playoffs, but you wouldn't know it by how they were celebrating in Seattle.
The surprising Seattle Mariners were still alive for postseason contention entering play Sunday. They didn't make it, of course. The Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers and (finally) sewed up the AL's second wild-card berth.
But the Mariners were close. Closer than a whole lot of people thought. They're not playing baseball in October, but they finished the season 87-75, not as a team that spent a bunch of money on Robinson Cano and still couldn't sniff the playoffs, like a lot of pundits predicted.
While finishing a game out of the playoffs might lead to bitterness, the Mariners were still psyched after beating the Los Angeles Angels. Just look at relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen peel off some of the best dance moves we've seen in baseball this season.
Your browser does not support iframes.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence gave his second impassioned speech of the week after his team closed out the regular season on Sunday with a win at AT&T Park.
This one contained no F-bombs, not like his postgame speech to his teammates Thursday night while the Giants celebrated clinching an NL wild-card spot. This one was directed squarely at the fans, whom he rallied in hopes of getting the Giants back home for another game in S.F.
They'll play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday at PNC Park in the NL wild-card game. If they win, the Giants will play at least one more game at home, against the Washington Nationals in the NLDS.Wed, Oct 15:07 PM PDTSan Francisco at PittsburghPreview Game
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew2 days ago
The final Sunday of the MLB regular season could have produced chaos, but as it turns out, things wrapped up quite neatly. The Detroit Tigers won to clinch the AL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the NL Central when the Pittsburgh Pirates lost. And the Oakland Athletics, after losing two straight potential clinchers, finally won to secure the second AL wild-card spot.
So the MLB postseason is set. We don't need any Game 163s.
- Mike Oz at Big League Stew2 days ago
The St. Louis Cardinals, before even playing an inning of baseball Sunday, became the 2014 National League Central champions.
In a down-to-the-wire contest that helped avoid a tie-breaking Game 163, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates by the score of 4-1. The Pirates needed to win their final game of the regular season to potentially force a tie atop the NL Central. They didn't, so the Cardinals win the division and the Pirates will now host the NL wild-card game on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants.
And with that, the NL playoff situation is cemented: The Cardinals will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in one NLDS, and the Washington Nationals await the wild-card winner in the other. Both series start Friday.