Saturday, October 6, 2012

MLB Postseason...A Whole Other Animal

You always hear that the postseason of any sport is the "second season." All the work over the long regular season has subsided, and a new method of playing the game has to be implemented.

But let's face it: baseball is waaaay different from any other sport.

When the NBA or NHL seasons begin, it's hard to tell that the regular season has ended until a few weeks into the playoffs. The NFL has a one-and-done playoff method that keeps the desperation of the end of the regular season at full tilt even as the playoffs begin.

But when it comes to baseball, the regular season and the playoffs are so different that you can't help but notice the contrast. The game is the same between the foul lines, but the energy can't be more diverse.

Take the crowd. For a normal Major League Baseball game in the middle of June, you'd normally find several groups of people present: regular season ticket holders who follow their team all year, groups who have purchased tickets with an interest in the team, groups who are celebrating something, families taking their children, and twenty-somethings who like to hang out and drink.

However, the crowd at a playoff game in October is hugely different. Most of the crowd understands the importance of the game. Very few small children are present because dads and moms are only buying a couple of tickets. There are probably more fans from the opposing team who want to see their team in the playoffs. The crowd tends to follow the game a lot more closely than a game in July. Home runs are cheered louder. Mistakes are jeered with bloodthirsty intensity.

Another big difference is the dress code. When I attended a Tigers game in June, the weather was 95 degrees - everyone was in shorts and short-sleeved shirts or tank tops. Tonight's game 1 against Oakland probably started in the 40s, and coats and hoodies were the primary clothing choice. Hats and gloves were also required.

A game that starts at 7:05pm in June won't be under the lights until 9 - or maybe even 10, depending on where you are in the time zone. But a game in October will already be under the lights at 7:05! The sun, when an afternoon game is held, hits the field differently than the summer afternoon games. Ice cream bars and frozen lemonade are replaced with honey roasted peanuts and hot chocolate.

All of these differences help to make the atmosphere of an MLB playoff game so unique - unique from the MLB regular season and unique from other playoff seasons -  and so much fun to watch. Whether you are present at the game (I highly recommend it if the opportunity arises) or watching on TV, the excitement is absorbed by everyone. You really feel like the whole world is watching, and that your day is glorious or excruciating depending on how your team did the night before.

I hope that you take the time to enjoy the MLB playoffs this season, no matter if your team is in it or not. I'm sure you'll be able to absorb the intensity and excitement of a baseball postseason battle.