Mon, Feb. 24

Macafee's Monologues: October baseball begins

I remember back in 2001 when I experienced my first October baseball experience. I was nine-years old, so I was still learning the game, but I could sense the intensity between the two teams, the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson were named Co-MVP's of the World Series and from there on, my appreciation level of the game was at a new level.

Let's fast forward to 2003, when a young Florida Marlins team made up of future all-stars such as Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, and Miguel Cabrera, who is now arguably one of the best hitters in the history of the game, defeated the evil empire of the New York Yankees.

Based on these two experiences of October baseball if you couldn't tell I grew up in a Yankees family.

Those two years were pretty heartbreaking for my brother, my grandpa, and my uncles, as the Yankees lost one step close of another ring. You could say I was a fan of the Yankees just because my brother was, I didn't know who I was rooting for and didn't really pay attention to sports at that time but boy, did I love the game of baseball.

In 2004, I was watching a Yankees game with my brother and a couple friends, and he declared I wasn't allowed to root for the Yankees anymore. So I chose to root for the team they were playing against. That turned out to be the Boston Red Sox, the infamous rivalry, no better team to root for right, the team my brother hates the most.

So the rest of the season went on, and when October came, I experienced my favorite moment in baseball history to this day. The 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and the Yankees was one of the best series I have ever watched. It was the epitome of what October baseball is.

The Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the evil empire and go on to win the World Series. It was like Christmas came early for me, and it gave me and my brother another thing to fight about until this day.

This gets me to today, it's time for October baseball once again. After the expanded format was introduced, and two more wild card teams were added to play, the intensity has grown. The Houston Astros made the playoffs for the first time since 2005 when they lost in the World Series. The Astros defeated the Yankees in the American League Wild Card game Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the Pirates hosted the National League Wild Card game for the third straight year. With a sea of black filling up PNC Park, it seemed as though this would be there year to get into the next round. But this year, they came up against NL CY Young candidate Jake Arrieta. Arrieta threw a complete-game shutout, with 11 strikeouts.

This is what October baseball is all about, witnessing great performance after great performance.

As the rest of the first round is set to start, who will be the next player to show up and make a name for themselves on the biggest stage in baseball?

The Astros are set to play the Kansas City Royals, and the Texas Rangers are set to play the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals are set to face off with the Cubs and the New York Mets will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

Will you be watching when the next person cements their name in baseball history? I know I will.

-- Follow Greg Macafee on Twitter @greg_macafee and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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