It’s a matchup even the baseball gods could not foresee. As the last days of October settle into our past, the window to crown a World Series champion beings to narrow, as Game 1 of the 2022 World Series is finally here.
After a 99-day lockout nudged the Fall Classic through Halloween weekend and the first week of November, we find ourselves standing on unchartered territory. As the 2022 season was in peril, Major League Baseball and the MLB Player’s Association came to an agreement that altered the course of the season and fermented a Fall Classic matchup that would not have been possible if the Postseason was not expanded — all in thanks to the agreements conjured by immense pressure that hovered over MLB and the MLBPA up until March 10, 2022, when a deal was finally struck.
The expansion saddled 14 teams into the postseason compared to the previous 10. The Philadelphia Phillies were the last team with the lowest record (87-75) to clinch a playoff spot. The last team to win the World Series with less than 87 wins in a season was the St. Louis Cardinals when they went 83-78 in 2006, a year they ultimately won the World Series.
Today we sit with the acknowledgment that the Phillies are in the World Series against the timid and undeniably daunting Houston Astros, who return to baseball’s holy land with a seamless welcome — literally, they are undefeated in the 2022 postseason after an ALDS and ALCS sweep to the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees (7-0).
Forget what you remember — or think you remember — about the magic that tinkers with baseball as the days become shorter and the pigment on leaves turns into a vibrant shade of yellow, orange, and red.
This tale may ring familiar when the World Series saluted an unpredictable outcome when the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series against the Houston Astros by forcing Game 7 and winning all four games in Houston. Since then, the dawn of unprecedented champions had begun, and the Astros will again have to face unknown forces. This time, Bryce Harper is waiting in the opposing dugout.
In this century alone, the World Series has seen a clean sweep four times (San Francisco Giants in 2012 vs. Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox in ‘07 vs. Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox in ‘05 vs. Houston Astros, and Red Sox in ‘04 vs. St. Louis Cardinals). But the Phillies hope to create a quake that would break through and stem a branch that will create a firm bark for future underdogs to climb so they can reach baseball’s highest realm.
Despite the changes that have now welded itself to history, the highest of intensified moments come with a passion that is seen from the roots of baseball fields that cover the landscapes of Latin America.
While the lineups are being penned and we are down to the mere hours until the first pitch commences at the start of Game 1, we will witness a World Series that will have a total of 21 Latino players playing in the Fall Classic.
Houston Astros Latino Players (15)
Philadelphia Phillies Latino Players (6)
In 2021, we witnessed Atlanta Braves Jorge Soler become the first Latino to be awarded the World Series MVP since Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Pérez won it in 2016. This year, the 2022 American League Championship Series MVP was given to 25-year-old rookie shortstop Astros Jeremy Peña, becoming the fifth rookie and third Latino rookie — Liván Hernández in 1997 with the Miami Marlins and Randy Arozarena in 2020 with the Tampa Bay Rays — to win the honor.
It’s safe to say Latinos continue to make a statement on baseball’s biggest stage. And without a certain doubt, we will see their hard work and dedication to the game they love and breathe come to fruition with World Series success.
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