Baltimore Orioles: Role reversal in the Fall Classic

Many Baltimore Orioles fans are probably waking up this morning happy to see that the hated New York Yankees have been bounced from the post season. They were defeated last night by the score of 4-0 in Game 7 of the ALCS. The Houston Astros will now advance to the World Series to represent the American League against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I do find a bit of irony in this matchup, as it’s two teams who seemingly stand for the inverse of what their league is all about. When I think of small ball, I think of National League clubs. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist in the American League, because it very much does. Cleveland, Minnesota, Kansas City, and yes Houston all play their share of small ball. And for the record, this is the fourth consecutive year that a small ball team will represent the American League in the World Series.

Los Angeles on the other hand is a power-hitting club. Again, that isn’t to say that there aren’t other teams who rely on power in the National League. The Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals both win games by hitting a lot of home runs. Chicks dig the long ball, as they say.

But for the most part small ball is the National League’s game, and power that of the American League. And that’s in essence done by design. The National League forces pitchers to hit, which incidentally is something I support. I’d love to see the DH struck from the game across-the-board. (I also know that’s not happening anytime soon.) So with all of the strategy that comes with that, it’s natural that small ball would rule the day in the NL.

It’s also natural that in the absence of that strategy in the American League, it would be more based on power. The American sports fan yearns for the big play. Whether it’s a big touchdown, a slam dunk, or in this case the home run ball. It puts people in the seats, and keeps them cheering.

Small ball will once again meet power in this year’s fall classic. Each side will just be represented differently than one might have otherwise expected.

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