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We didn’t think we’d make it, but here we are! Eight Major League Baseball teams remain, vying for the commissioner’s trophy… you know, that weird trophy that has all the breakable looking flags sticking out of it. You know… The Prompt’s third most fuckable sports trophy. MLB pretty much got through its regular 60ish game season, survived multiple COVID scares, and knocked out a fun, quick opening round of playoffs. In case you didn’t follow the ups and downs of the season, Dennis William and Josh Bard are here to re-introduce you to the final eight.

The Tampa Bay Rays – The “They’re How Good?”

The Rays have Nick Anderson, so look for them to spread the floor by going for some corner threes. *finger to ear* I’m being told that’s a different Nick Anderson on a different Florida team in a different sport from a different decade. Tampa has the most wins in the AL while somehow also employing Mike Zunino as a starter. Seriously, I recognize five names on this team, and one of those is only because he reminds me of the guy from Tom and Huck. THAT IS A BRAD RENFRO REFERENCE PEOPLE FEEL THE EXCITEMENT OF PANDEMIC PLAYOFF BASEBALL!

The New York Yankees – The Here We Go Again Team

Last year, the Yankees defied all odds and became a fun team that non-Yankee fans could enjoy (maybe not Josh). This year, they struggled down the stretch, and some doubted that they would make the playoffs. It seems that they’ve righted the ship. Now, they’ll probably go on a run and we’ll all have to suffer through another year of stupid Yankees fans. This team is cool, but they’re not so cool I’ll enjoy another Yankee championship.

The Houston Astros – The Beaten Down, Pitiful Bad Guys

You remember the Astros, right? The trashcan-banging, fake-apologizing, perennial l-World-Series-contending, enemies of the state. Well since the 2020 season started, they’ve been mired in a perfect storm of injuries, hate, and a logical regression that comes with taking away a team’s cheating models.

The Astros ended the season under .500 and as the 5 seed, thanks to one-time stars Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Carlos Correa having career low years. They reminded me of the Wet Bandits in Home Alone, after they’ve been brutalized by the blow torch, the burning door knob, the ornaments, and the cans of paint. You still hate them, but you are starting to feel a little bad about their fate. Then they end up apprehending a little-too-cocky Kevin McCallister, by beating the lowly Minnesota Twins in the first round, and now we need our scary neighbor to come through and save the day. What I’m saying is I never should have sympathized for the Astros and now the Athletics are our only hope of getting rid of these miscreants for good. Or until the sequel.

The Oakland Athletics – The Old Reliable

The AL West is the AFC East of baseball, and the A’s are the Patriots if they’d had Andy Dalton instead of Tom Brady. Always competitive and occasionally winning a weak division, but no real firepower to make noise in the playoffs. They’re always here, always a footnote. I would love for Oakland to make a run to the World Series at some point, but I can’t imagine it ever happening. The most significant thing they’ll probably do this playoffs is provide the young and cool White Sox with the experience and motivation they need to come back better next year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers – The Favorite Who Isn’t

Almost every year, the consensus is that the Dodgers are the best team in the league. Then every year they lose, improve their team, and become even better. Then they lose, improve their team, and become even better. It’s Sisyphus rolling a matryoshka set up a hill.

This year, specifically, they traded for Mookie Betts, the best and most fun player in the league (according to my very specific funalytics) and went wire-to-wire in the regular season, and then cruised through the first round of playoffs. Now they find themselves in the same position they’ve found themselves in almost every year this decade: the team most likely to win the World Series, and the team that probably won’t win the World Series.

The San Diego Padres – The Hottest Guy/Girl in the Room

We’ve all seen this person, who radiates and catches everyone’s eye immediately. You can go back to whatever else you were doing, but every few minutes, you’re going to end up looking to see where they went or what they are doing now. That’s the Padres. They are young and cool and charismatic and fun and wild. They’ve got good hair and make interesting fashion choices. Hold on one sec, I need a cigarette.

The Padres busted on the scene this year with up-and-coming superstar Fernando Tatis, Jr. He’s the guy you may have seen tossing bats after moonshots, or making athletic, diving plays in the field, or stealing bases with hair flopping all over. And the team has pitching too, although you might not hear about it as much. In a do-or-die Game 3 in the first round of the playoffs, with some of their best pitchers nursing injuries, the Padres pitched nine relievers on course to a shutout win. They get the Dodgers next and while many experts are looking for an upset here, very few are predicting a Padres championship. Just like the hottest guy/girl in the room, they are an exciting possibility, but odds are you’ll wind up with someone else.

The Florida Marlins – The All or Nothing Gang

As I write this, the Florida Marlins have yet to lose a playoff series. EVER. A stretch that includes *checks notes* two postseasons. I guess you can’t lose in the postseason if you don’t make the postseason.

So, history (and science) tells us that they will win. When the Marlins won their first World Series, I was 13, lying on my living room floor struggling to stay awake for the extra innings game. My mom told me I needed to get to bed just in time for me to see Edgar Renteria’s winning single up the middle. I will not be doing that for this team.

The Atlanta Braves – The Not Your Father’s Braves

The point is that these aren’t the Braves you grew up watching on TBS, the superstation. These Braves aren’t mostly a bunch of crusty white dudes who are good but devoid of personality. These Braves aren’t likely to be motivated by the supremely out of touch Tomahawk Chop. These Braves can win more than one World Series in a decade, potentially. These Braves are likable. These Braves would be fun to root for, if they weren’t going up against the Disney sports movie that was the Florida COVID-adjacent Marlins.

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