It is always a good postseason when Major League Baseball’s three oldest—and most storied—ballparks are in the spotlight. That will be the case this October, which will see Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, and Dodger Stadium all host playoff baseball.
For the most part, the site of these three ballparks in the same postseason was a rarity. Despite baseball beginning division play in 1969 and the expansion to the wild card format in 1994, it took until 2008 for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers to all make the same postseason. In that year the Cubs were eliminated by the Dodgers in the first round, only for both the Dodgers and Red Sox to both fall short of the World Series.
All three teams enter the playoffs this year as reasonable World Series contenders, and each carry unique storylines. The Cubs are obviously trying to shake off a 108-year title drought, while the Dodgers are trying to end a more modest—but, relative to their franchise’s success, somewhat long—stretch without a World Series appearance that dates back to their last championship in 1988. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have won three titles since 2004, but would like to add another in what will be the final postseason for David Ortiz.
Therefore much of the focus this fall will be on those clubs, but the other teams in the playoffs present storylines—and ballparks—that are unique in their own right. Starting in the Senior Circuit, the Washington Nationals won the National League East for the third time in five seasons. After a rebuilding process, the Nationals have become a perennial contender at Nationals Park, which first opened in 2008. The ballpark has and will continue to receive plenty of attention in the coming years, as it is scheduled to host the 2018 All-Star Game. However, a deep postseason run by the Nationals would add to Nationals Park’s short but fairly distinguished history.
Elsewhere in the National League, the outcome of Wednesday’s Wild Card game allows for postseason contests to be played at one of the game’s premier venues. The San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park has been hailed as one of baseball’s best since its opening in 2000, and has seen plenty of memorable action—including three championships for the Giants since 2010. If the Giants make a similar run this year, the atmosphere at AT&T Park should be traditionally boisterous.
Over in the American League, the Cleveland Indians are making a return to the postseason, marking a return of October baseball to Progressive Field. From the time it opened as Jacobs Field in 1994 through 2001, the ballpark was a familiar site in the postseason, as the Indians won six American League Central titles and made two World Series appearances. This will be the Indians’ third postseason trip since 2007.
The winner of the American League West, the Texas Rangers, have once again allowed their ballpark to shine in the playoff spotlight. Including the upcoming division series, Globe Life Park has been home to playoff games in five of seven seasons since the beginning of the decade. While the Rangers’ postseason run occurs as the franchise campaigns for a new retractable-roof ballpark, that does not detract from the luster of Globe Life Park, which has been home to plenty of memorable postseason moments.
By the knocking out the Baltimore Orioles in Tuesday’s wild card game, the Toronto Blue Jays assured that more playoff baseball will be played at the Rogers Centre. The ballpark, which opened as the SkyDome in 1989, had a first on Tuesday night as, it hosted the postseason game with the retractable roof open. The last time the Blue Jays had played a playoff game that was not under a dome was at Exhibition Stadium during the 1985 ALCS.
The games themselves should offer plenty of intrigue this postseason. However, 2016 will truly be a year in which some of baseball’s best venues receive playoff attention.
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