One-site World Series set for Globe Life Field in Arlington

Major League Baseball on Tuesday unveiled a 16-team playoff bracket featuring four rounds of playoffs, including single-sites for the final three rounds, including the World Series.

The playoffs will open on Sept. 29, MLB announced. The World Series will be played in its entirety in Arlington at Globe Life Field, starting on Oct. 20.

Reports have been circulating for the past two days that fans might be allowed inside the stadiums on a limited basis for the final two rounds.

The American and National leagues will both send eight teams into the postseason, with first- and second-place teams in each of MLB’s six divisions guaranteed automatic berths.

Outside of the guaranteed slots from each division, two more teams from the AL and another two from the NL will make the playoffs.

All games in a best-of-three, Wild-Card round will be played at the home park of top four seeds in each league, according to a news release from MLB.

After that, games will shift to neutral sites “due to health, safety and competitive considerations.”

Each of four division series are best of five.

AL Division Series games are set for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego, with NLDS games scheduled for Minute Maid Park in Houston and Globe Life Field in Arlington.

After the divisional round, all series are best of seven.

The ALCS will be played at San Diego’s Petco Park, while the NLCS and the World Series will be played at Globe Life, the home of the Texas Rangers.

With the Rangers at 17-30 on the season leading into tonight’s series opener at Houston, it’s highly unlikely that they will make the playoffs.

It’s the first time in 76 years that baseball has held the World Series at one site, according to the Associated Press.

The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Browns 4 games to 2, the AP reported.

A young man by the name of Stan Musial, age 23 at the time, aided the Cardinals in the series victory with a .304 batting average. One of Musial’s teammates was Debs Garms, who played in the minor leagues for the Missions in 1935 and 1936.

The AP also reported that New York’s Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, in the last two seasons that it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday told reporters that fans potentially could be allowed to attend the ALCS, the NLCS and the World Series games, but likely with reduced capacity.

To this point in a season shortened to 60 regular-season games by the coronavirus pandemic, fans have not been allowed in major league ball parks.

Entry into the stadiums has been restricted to players, coaches, essential stadium staff and media.

Padres, White Sox create their own energy in empty stadiums

Without fans in the stands at Major League Baseball stadiums, high-stakes games between skilled athletes lack sizzle. They’re short on emotional punch. Even this month with divisional opponents locked in a race for first place, games just aren’t the same, with all due respect to the cardboard cutouts.

Baseball just isn’t baseball without paying customers roaring at climactic moments or leaning over the guard rails to slap the side of the stadium walls. It’s bad for everyone, but it’s really been a shame for the fan bases in San Diego and Chicago.

The Padres haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. The White Sox since 2008. In a normal season, fans would be packing Petco Park in San Diego or Guaranteed Rate Field on the south side of Chicago to watch these long-suffering franchises contend for pennants.

Both the Padres in the National League and the White Sox in the American feature young stars in contention for MVP awards. And yet, in the stretch run of a season overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, the stadiums were empty Monday night during games with playoff implications.

Both fan bases were left watching on living room television as the Padres downed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2, and the White Sox turned back the Minnesota Twins, 3-1. To both ball clubs’ credit, the Padres and White Sox not only have put together talented teams, but they have assembled groups capable of generating their own energy.

Even without the roar of the home crowd, both teams are doing as good a job as anyone at making the best of an awkward situation. As we all know, fans in most major sporting events can’t attend games because of restrictions related to the threat of the virus.

The Padres and White Sox both have shrugged it all off and just played ball. In the NL West, the Dodgers (33-15) lead the race and hold the best record in baseball, but the Padres (32-17) are right there, only a game and a half out of first. In the AL Central, the White Sox (31-16) are in first place, with the Twins (30-19) two games back.

Scott Merkin, who covers the White Sox for, pointed out that no playoff berth in the AL was on the line Monday night in Chicago. At the same time, he wrote that the atmosphere, “even with pumped-in crowd noise replacing fans in the stands, sure felt like postseason baseball.” White Sox player Adam Engel agreed.

“I don’t know what the starters felt like, but being a bench guy, it feels like you are living and dying on every pitch,” said Engel, whose pinch single in the eighth produced the game-winning run. “You have a lot of emotion going with every pitch.

“A lot of guys say at the end of a playoff game [that] everybody is mentally and emotionally exhausted. Tonight wasn’t the real thing per se, but it felt pretty similar to that.”

In San Diego, the Padres rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat the Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw. Trent Grisham, who played for the Triple-A San Antonio Missions last year, hit a solo home run off Kershaw to spark the comeback.

Afterward, Ken Gurnick of wrote that Kershaw stressed the importance of playing well against the Padres and finishing the season strong despite the unusual circumstances.

“These games matter,” Kershaw said. “If you want to be the (No.) 1-seed, it matters. To say, ‘Hey, I can’t get up for games, or there’s no adrenaline because there’s no fans,’ figure it out. I don’t want to hear that anymore.

“We want to play well, we want to beat the Padres and win the division. I think it’s important to play well the last two weeks of the season going into the playoffs. Maybe even try to create the atmosphere, as best you can, that these games matter to get ready for the playoff games.”

So, there you have it. Some players seem to feel the playoff vibe already. Others are trying to feel it, but it’s difficult, as Gurnick suggested, because the lack of fans “saps the electricity of a playoff race.”

It’s too bad for the fans, particularly in San Diego and Chicago. The season has a chance to be special. But even if either team rises up to win the World Series, a championship parade with thousands in attendance will be out of the question.

Unless they call in the cardboard cutouts.

Shortstops Tim Anderson (above) of the Chicago White Sox and Fernando Tatis, Jr., of the San Diego Padres have played their way into contention for Most Valuable Player honors in their respective leagues. Anderson leads the AL (and all of the majors) with a .369 batting average. Tatis, who played in San Antonio with the Missions in 2018, leads the NL in RBI with 40 and is tied for first in home runs with 15.

Mike Piazza slugs a homer for NYC, for America

Missions fans saw Mr. Piazza hit a few balls out of the yard over on 36th and Culebra in 1992. Little did we know, it was our own personal preview of one of the great moments in American sports.

MLB players from Texas: Kershaw, Goldschmidt top the list

Moving into the final third of the 60-game, pandemic-shortened schedule, here’s a status update on some of the top names from the state of Texas in Major League Baseball. In other words, players in MLB who grew up playing in high school or in college in Texas. Here’s the scoop:

Clayton Kershaw — Battling nagging injuries over the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander continues to perform at a high level. But it’s uncertain how many more years the former Highland Park High School standout will play in the majors. Whenever he hangs it up, the next stop for Kershaw most likely will be Cooperstown. Hall of Fame credentials are already evident in his 13th season. Three Cy Young awards. Eight all-star berths. A no-hitter. A career 2.43 earned run average. Coming off a stint on the 10-day injured list with back stiffness, Kershaw nevertheless is 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA this year for baseball’s best team.

Paul Goldschmidt — Is former Texas State University standout Paul Goldschmidt riding a Hall of Fame arc in his career? He has 247 home runs and a .297 batting average over 10 seasons. He’s made six All-Star teams and has three Gold Gloves. So, he’s doing all the right things. But pundits say he may need to keep up the pace for another six or eight years, or so. At any rate, Goldschmidt is enjoying a solid pandemic-shortened season with the St. Louis Cardinals, ranking fourth in batting average (.330) and first in on-base percentage (.461) in the National League. Goldschmidt, 33, is a 10th-year MLB veteran. He attended The Woodlands High School. Moved on to Texas State University. Drafted in the eighth round in 2009 by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Anthony Rendon — Coming off a big season with the world champion Washington Nationals, Rendon signed as a free agent in the offseason with the Los Angeles Angels. The third baseman from Houston’s Lamar High School and Rice University signed for seven years and $245 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rendon was drafted sixth overall out of Rice by the Nationals in 2011. He is hitting .291 with eight home runs and 25 RBI in 38 games this summer with the Angels.

Brandon Belt — The San Francisco Giants’ first baseman is having a solid season with a .324 average through Wednesday night. Belt was born in Nacogdoches and grew up near Longview. He attended the University of Texas.

Trevor Story — Story, in his fifth year in the major leagues, all with the Colorado Rockies, is one of the best young players in the game. At age 27, the former Irving High School standout has already made two National League All-Star teams. He is hitting .292 this summer. He’s got 10 home runs, and he leads the majors with 13 stolen bases.

Max Muncy — Power-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers infielder was born in Midland and played in high school at Keller. He attended Baylor University. After a few years in the majors with the Oakland A’s, Muncy signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in 2017. He re-discovered his confidence in Oklahoma City, before making a huge splash in the majors. He hit 35 home runs for the Dodgers in both 2018 and 2019. This year, he’s ripped 10 for the Dodgers, who have the best record in the major leagues.

Cavan Biggio — The son of Hall of Fame infielder Craig Biggio grew up in Houston and attended St. Thomas High School. In college, he attended Notre Dame. Biggio is in his second season as an infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s batting .247, with 6 HR, 21 RBI and a .794 OPS.

Trent Grisham — Grisham bats in the lead-off spot and starts in center field for the surprising San Diego Padres. A native Texan from Burleson, joined the Padres last winter in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. With the Brewers, he started for the Triple-A San Antonio Missions in 2019. This year, Grisham supplies speed and power to the Padres’ offense with a .269 average, eight home runs and 19 RBI. His OPS is a healthy .828.

Chris Paddack — The surprising 24-year-old Austin-area native was 3-4 with a 4.75 earned run average leading into Thursday night’s start for the San Diego Padres against the San Francisco Giants. Over two seasons, he was 12-11, 3.69. In 2015, Paddack entered pro baseball as an eighth-round draft pick by the Miami Marlins out of Cedar Park High School. He was traded to the Padres in June 2016 and made his big league debut for them in 2019.

Ross Stripling — The 30-year-old right-hander from Texas A&M is playing for the Toronto Blue Jays, moving over to the American League after a recent trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Michael Wacha — Wacha, another right-hander from Texas A&M, is 1-3 with a 7.50 earned run average for the New York Mets.

Kyle Finnegan — Finnegan is one of the feel-good stories. After knocking around in the minor leagues for seven years, the former Texas State University standout made a major league roster for the first time this year with the Washington Nationals. Finnegan has pitched in 17 games out of the bullpen for Nationals manager Davey Martinez.

Tyler Naquin — Naquin, from Spring and Texas A&M, is playing outfield for the Cleveland Indians. Hitting .247 in 25 games, Naquin is bouncing back from a toe injury that had him on the injured list from July 22 to Aug. 11. The Indians drafted Naquin 15th on the first round out of Texas A&M in 2012.

Hunter Dozier — Dozier has played in 28 of 44 games for the Kansas City Royals, primarily at third base. He’s hitting .230, down from his .279 average last year. In 2013, he was the eighth overall pick of the Royals out of Stephen F. Austin University. Dozier was born in Wichita Falls and played in high school in Denton.

Corey Knebel — The Milwaukee Brewers are hopeful that reliever Corey Knebel can regain his form from 2018, when he was a key bullpen presence on a squad that surged to the National League Championship Series. Knebel sat out all of last season recovering from elbow surgery. He’s returned this year and pitched in 10 games with an 8.22 ERA. In his last outing, the former Texas Longhorns pitcher from Denton threw a hit-less and scoreless inning at Detroit on Tuesday.

Noah Syndergaard — The hard-throwing pitcher for the Mets underwent Tommy John surgery in March, ending his season. Syndergaard was the 38th overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 draft. He was drafted out of Mansfield Legacy High School. Traded by the Jays to the Mets in 2012, he he broke into the big leagues in 2015. Syndegaard, who made the NL All-Star team in 2016, is 47-30 in his career.

Jameson Taillon — Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher hasn’t played this year after having Tommy John elbow surgery in February. Drafted by the Pirates in 2010 on the first round, with the second overall pick, out of The Woodlands High School. He’s 29-24 with a 3.67 ERA in his MLB career with the Pirates.

Kohl Stewart — The 25-year-old Baltimore Orioles pitcher from Houston St. Pius High School opted out of the season in July. “For the time being, I have decided to pause my participation in the 2020 season,” Stewart said in a statement published by the Baltimore Sun on July 31. “My elevated risk of serious complications of COVID-19 due to Type 1 diabetes continues to be of great concern. I am grateful to the organization, as well as my coaches and teammates, for their incredible support.” Stewart was selected fourth overall out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 2013.

Beau Burrows — Pitcher Beau Burrows, a Fort Worth native who played at Weatherford High School, made his MLB debut this season. He’s pitched in four games out of the bullpen for the Detroit Tigers.

Trent Grisham played for the San Antonio Missions for part of the 2019 season before being called up by the Milwaukee Brewers. - photo by Joe Alexander

Trent Grisham played for the San Antonio Missions for part of the 2019 season before being called up by the Milwaukee Brewers. – photo by Joe Alexander