Boston Red Sox

Oct 19, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) hits a 2-run walk off home run during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees in game six of the 2019 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt McCarthy,

I’m the first to admit that baseball has problems.

Pace-of-play is killing the sport, the regular season is too long and doesn’t have enough competition, and there aren’t enough balls in play with the rise in strikeouts, walks, and home runs.

But this October, like so many Octobers before it, has been outstanding. It has been a reminder of why baseball can still be great.

Each round has been filled with compelling games and the World Series, which starts Tuesday night, should be no different.

The Nationals eighth inning comeback against the Brewers in the NL Wild Card game was must-watch television. Should Craig Counsell have stayed with Drew Pomeranz? What happened to Josh Hader? How could a Major League right fielder botch such a routine play?

Washington went on to beat the Dodgers in five games, with a deciding game that was just as much about another Nationals comeback as it was about the failure of Clayton Kershaw, Dave Roberts, and the Dodgers.

Three of the four division series went to five games. It’s hard to complain about that.

In the American League, the Astros and the Yankees treated fans to the championship bout we all expected. Game 6 of the ALCS was an instant classic.

Every play was bigger than the next. The Michael Brantley double play was one of the best diving catches you’ll see all year, the DJ LeMahieu home run was as dramatic as it can get, and Jose Altuve’s walkoff home run will be replayed until the end of time (or baseball, whichever comes sooner).

I’ll put the end of that ballgame up against any great football game, Stanley Cup playoff game, or NCAA tournament finish. It was that good.

Now we’re in for an outstanding World Series with historically good pitching matchups. It’s hard to imagine this series disappointing.

Gerrit Cole vs. Max Scherzer

Justin Verlander vs. Stephen Strasburg

Zach Greinke vs. Patrick Corbin.

Verlander and Scherzer are locks for Cooperstown, Greinke will likely end up there too, and Cole and Strasburg are two of the best pitchers in baseball and have been for years. Corbin is no slouch, either.

If you don’t tune in to watch those games, then you just don’t like baseball.

Who wouldn’t like this October?

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.

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