This is the wonderful time of year for Major League Baseball fans capable of compartmentalizing whatever disappointment their fandom caused. Hey, not everybody can make the postseason so don’t hate the game because of it.
Each day and night of the postseason is followed with laser focus. Pitches and plays will be assembled and disassembled by a core of analysts paid to lay praise or blame on somebody’s front door.
As we get ready for the start of the four Divisional series, be aware the added attention will result in the crowning of new goats and heroes whose infamy or fame will last just one news cycle before fading away.
By the end of Thursday, we will hear more than we ever anticipated about those who helped the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals or Dodgers to Game 1 wins or losses. And so it will flow until the World Series champion is determined.
So who will be the stars of today and tomorrow? We’ll just have to wait until they start playing catch.
If you’re looking for example of how this all works, look at what emanated from the clubhouses after the Wild Card games in the National and American Leagues.
From coast to coast, in every way information is disseminated these days, stories were being told about Yandy Diaz of the Rays and Trent Grisham of the Brewers.
They were different stories, of course. Diaz’s was one of great success, Grisham’s of abject failure. One led to a win, the other played a big role in a loss.
In Washington on Tuesday night, Grisham, a rookie outfielder plugged into the Milwaukee lineup after the loss of their team’s MVP, Christian Yelich, to a broken kneecap, was surrounded by the media after he inadvertently over ran a single in right field for an error in the eighth inning.
Grishham botched a line drive off the bat of Washington’s Juan Soto with the bases loaded. As he rushed to retrieve the ball, all three Nationals runners scored to set the stage for the Brewers 4-3 loss.
In the scrum of Milwaukee’s locker room, Brewers veteran Mike Moustakas, who played on Kansas City’s world championship team in 2015, spent a few minutes quietly speaking to Grisham.
After Moustakas was done, Grisham rose from his seat and thanked him. What did he say to the kid?
“I’m going to keep that between me and him,” Moustakas told reporters. “I think that’s something that stays in the clubhouse. We’ve all been there. We’ve all made mistakes. It’s not what you want to do in that situation being him. Things happen. We wouldn’t have gotten that far without him.”
When everyone was finally done talking with Grisham, The Athletic said he left the locker room by saying he “essentially gifted” the Nationals their spot in the NLDS against the Dodgers.
In Oakland on Thursday, Diaz was at the core of a joyous clubhouse after hitting two home runs from the leadoff spot to spearhead a 5-1 win that sent the Rays into their best-of-five against the Houston Astros.
“This dude is amazing!” said Jesus Aguilar of the Rays. “He just played the first game of the playoffs and he hit two homers. Nobody can do that!”
Aguilar was pretty much on point considering Diaz was out of the lineup from July 22 to Sept. 29 with injuries. His prep for the postseason were the three at-bats the team gave him during Sunday’s regular-season finale.
“It was my dream to get to the playoffs,” Díaz said though a Spanish interpreter. “I didn’t expect this at all, to be honest, but I did everything in my power and strength to do it and luckily came out with two home runs.”
Diaz finished the game with three hits in four at-bats. His first home run came on the game’s first at-bat. That he was even in the lineup seemed to be a major surprise to most.
“I don’t know if we expected that type of performance,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s made us look a lot smarter than we really are by getting them back in the lineup. … We’re fortunate, we have really smart people that can evaluate talent. We’ve kind of prided ourselves, this organization, for many years, on maybe finding the players that have fallen through the cracks a little bit. And we’ve got a handful of them on the roster right now that are main pieces to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Grisham and Diaz. The stories of the day. The playoffs will be filled with them. Get ready for the ride.