My guess is that 99% of the people reading this were far more excited about the World Series in 2022 than they are about this year’s edition. This is a Phillies site, so it is only logical that the readers here would take more interest in a World Series that features the Phillies over one that does not. Especially considering most readers probably believe that the Phillies should once again be one of the teams competing in the final round.
Alas, the Phillies lost the NLCS, and Major League Baseball did not decide to cancel the Fall Classic due to that tragedy. Instead, we’ll get the National League Champion Arizona Diamondbacks taking on the American League Champion Texas Rangers for the right to hoist a big, shiny trophy.
For the benefit of our fans who haven’t fully turned their attention to other interests and want to know more about how this is all going to play out, I’m here to provide this helpful guide about the teams involved and the matchup. Like most of my previews, I’m not going to get too in depth. But I will be discussing comic books at some point, so you can just skip ahead to that section if you want to read that part.
How they got here
You know damn well how they got here. They fell behind 2-0 in the NLCS, and then their opponent spent every subsequent at bat attempting to hit home runs. Add in a bullpen meltdown and some BABIP luck, and for the second time in team history, the Arizona Diamondbacks are the NL champions.
What’s special about them?
I honestly don’t know. Looking at the roster, you’re not overwhelmed, and before the playoffs began, many people had them as the least talented team in the field. That’s not to say they don’t have good players; you don’t get this far without very good players. It just seems like the D’Backs are one of those good teams that puts it all together at the right time.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are a clear example in baseball that you just want to get right at the right time.— Seattle Mariners ON Tap (@MarinersONtap) October 25, 2023
They won 84 games. The Mariners won 88 for example.
If you just get into the playoffs, get hot, anything can happen. pic.twitter.com/3FA0g4F9FS
And no, this isn’t an attempt to diminish the Diamondbacks or complain about the playoffs not rewarding the “best” teams. This is just how the playoffs work, and sometimes (most times?) the best rosters aren’t the ones who win. The Diamondbacks earned their way to the World Series and deserve to be there. If they win four more games, they will be a worthy champion, and it isn’t a travesty that a 100+ win team wasn’t able to win when it counted.
What’s not special about them?
Are they really going to get through another playoff series relying on Brandon Pfaadt and bullpen games to cover three games? Can they continue to have their batted balls find holes at opportune moments?
Names to know
Corbin Carroll: The rookie outfielder pulled a Jayson Tatum where he was horrible for most of a playoff series, and then - to the announcers’ utter delight - was unstoppable in the final game.
Ketel Marte: He’s been the best hitter throughout the entire playoffs and was just named the NLCS MVP. Unlike how the Diamondbacks were eventually able to neutralize Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos, the Phillies pitchers never figured out how to get him out.
KETEL MARTE WALKS IT OFF IN THE NINTH— SportsTalk (@TheSportsTalk0) October 19, 2023
PHILLIES 1 DIAMONDBACKS 2pic.twitter.com/b4G7pVZTy1
Kevin Ginkel: If you had just started watching baseball last week, you’d be convinced that he’s the greatest relief pitcher to ever live. In the NLCS, he made four appearances covering 4.2 innings, allowing just two baserunners, while striking out five.
Zac Gallen: The ace of the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff who is making with the jokes, even though he was 0-2 in the NLCS.
Make sure to get those tix for your next game pic.twitter.com/NTiXGZDTud— Zac Gallen (@zacgallen23) October 25, 2023
How they got here
Finishing second in the AL West, they captured the league’s second Wild Card berth. They swept the Rays in the Wild Card round and then did the same to the top seeded Orioles in the NLDS. They then took down the defending champion Astros in the ALCS, winning all four games on the road.
What’s special about them?
They can hit. They scored the most runs in the American League, and the offensive production has continued throughout the playoffs.
If Rangers’ offense is clicking in World Series, it’s over. Just ask Dusty Baker https://t.co/oggP6A6IDL— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) October 27, 2023
What’s not special about them?
The pitching doesn’t seem all that impressive. That hasn’t mattered much due to all the run support, but if the Diamondbacks figure out a way to slow down the offense, will the Rangers’ pitching be able to carry them to victory?
Names to know
Adolis Garcia: A Cuban defector, he didn’t receive regular playing time until his age 28 season, but once give a chance, he quickly established himself as a star. He was the MVP of the ALCS for batting .357 with five home runs in the seven-game series.
Max Scherzer: The future Hall of Fame pitcher returned from an injury during the ALCS, but his return was unspectacular. He gave up two runs in 2.2 innings, and he swears that his thumb won’t be a problem going forward.
Max Scherzer puts finger on ALCS woes: a cut on his thumb. But feels like he has a better grip on the problem heading into #WorldSeries.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) October 27, 2023
"I found a way to throw some cotton on it and some glue," Scherzer said. #MLB https://t.co/tPPqAncgyW
Will Smith: Somehow, the reliever is going for his third ring in as many years. One year after serving as the Braves’ closer in 2021, he was on the 2022 Astros roster but didn’t appear in the World Series.
even if we use the BROADEST definition of 'win a ring', and go with 1 RS game for World Series champ, no player has ever done so in 3 straight years with 3 different teams— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 24, 2023
Will Smith has a chance to be the first
Corey Seager: Unlike his counterpart on the Phillies, the Rangers’ star shortstop hit well all throughout the LCS, blasting a home run in the pivotal game seven.
Who to root for?
Some Phillies fans might want to root against the Diamondbacks, because they developed a sense of animosity over the course of the NLCS. Others might want to root for the Diamondbacks, because they would take comfort in knowing that the Phillies were eliminated by the eventual champion.
If the Diamondbacks win the World Series, does that take away some of the sting of the Phillies losing the NLCS?— 72 Seasons of Ethan Witte (@ethan_witte) October 26, 2023
As for the Rangers, there’s not much of a Phillies connection there. One potential reason to root against them is because they represent the same home market as the Philadelphia Eagles’ biggest rival, and some may find it offensive to consider that Cowboys fans might be happy about something.
If you can look past Cowboys hatred, the Rangers are appealing to those who like to cheer for cursed franchises. The Rangers have never won the World Series in their previous 62 seasons and suffered back-to-back losses in the Fall Classic in 2010 and 2010.
Also, the Rangers employ former Phillies Travis Jankowski. The long-haired outfielder has mainly served as a pinch runner but did get a hit in his lone plate appearance in game seven of the ALCS. So... go Janky, and by extension, go Rangers?
Travis Jankowski is going to the World Series pic.twitter.com/9F08LVeV14— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) October 24, 2023
Enough about the ratings
Rangers-D'backs Series will have a 0.0 rating at my house ... and probably much of America.— Brice Cherry (@BriceCherry) October 25, 2023
Thank God for the return of NBA basketball.
This sentiment is often expressed by fans immediately after their favorite team is eliminated. It’s especially weird when it comes from Braves fans since Atlanta isn’t a massive media market and the team has never proven all that much of a ratings draw.
First off, who cares? I don’t work for or advertise on Fox, and I’m guessing the same applies to everyone reading this, so what does it matter? It’s not like they’re going to cancel the World Series next year if the ratings aren’t setting records.
So all you people saying no one will watch the World Series. Ratings will be trash. If it's not your team, why do you care? If you don't work for Fox or MLB, why do you care? I guarantee plenty of people who care in Texas and Arizona will watch. Can't wait till 5pm Fri.— Scott Allen (@azsportsguy) October 27, 2023
Here’s where I talk about the comic books. Warning: There will be spoilers for a comic book mini-series from the ‘80s. I hope the statute of limitations has passed.
After seeing the trailer for the upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie, I decided to read the famous Spider-Man story “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” This is regarded by most critics as one of the best Spider-Man stories ever. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I thought it was underwhelming.
Now Reading: Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt pic.twitter.com/IjrOYihOZf— Craig (@CS11__) October 24, 2023
The story starts off with Spider-Man acting angsty and out of character from the beginning. It would be one thing if events in the story caused him to change, but no, he’s off from the very start. A few pages in, for the sake of plot convenience, Spider-Man forgets he has superpowers, and gets taken down by Kraven.
Kraven then buries Spider-Man alive because like most comic book villains, when he has a chance to kill off the hero who has vexed him for so long, he doesn’t take it. He then impersonates Spider-Man and “proves himself superior” by taking out a creature called Vermin.
Vermin is presented as this extremely dangerous enemy, but I’m not sure why. Spider-Man regularly takes out villains much more powerful, but for some reason, we’re supposed to be really impressed by Vermin.
Anyway, Spider-Man, powered by love for his wife digs out of his grave, and confronts Kraven, who decides he’s beaten his enemy and kills himself. (Line most comic book deaths, it doesn’t stick.) Spider-Man then has to track down and stop Vermin - humanely! - to show that Kraven isn’t actually better than him.
Spider-Man finally lures Vermin up into the light (metaphorically and physically), where hopefully he can get the help he needs. “Vermin--there’s a man I’m going to call… His name’s Reed Richards. If anybody can help you--he can.” #marvel #spiderman #kravenslasthunt pic.twitter.com/ejYeNlsWsJ— Marvel Daily Art (@MarvelDailyArt) July 20, 2023
Maybe I’m not properly appreciating the story because it was groundbreaking for its time, but 30+ years after that fact, it seems derivative. After all, the trope of “Formerly lightweight villain takes a dark, more serious turn” has been done to death in the year since, as has “Happy character acts dark and moody to show that this is a SERIOUS story.”
Anyway, back to baseball...
Who will win?
I predicted the Diamondbacks’ lack of pitching depth would prove their undoing against the Phillies. I was wrong. However, the Rangers have a better offense than the Phillies, and their hitters probably won’t spend the final few games of the series swinging at any pitch regardless of its proximity to the strike zone.
The Diamondbacks have the better pitching in the series, but will it be enough to slow down a Rangers offense that seems determined to slug its way to a title? My guess is that it won’t. Rangers in six.