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Get ready for the first ever Wild Card World Series

It didn’t take long for Major League Baseball’s expanded postseason format to produce a very wild World Series matchup.

In fact, one year after the Phillies became the first wildcard team to make it to the World Series under MLB’s new expanded playoff field that includes six seeds in each league and a best-of-three wildcard format, the national pastime is guaranteed a wildcard World Series winner in 2023.

The Rangers and Diamondbacks made sure of that by beating the odds and winning their respective League Championship Series.

Texas, the fifth seed in the American League, and Arizona, the sixth seed in the National League, came out of the postseason gate read hot, each sweeping both the wildcard series and the LDS.

The Rangers’ hot streak continued into the ALCS, as they won the first two games against the defending champion Astros at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. However, when the Astros returned the favor and swept Texas right out of Globe Life Field–including a dramatic victory in Game 5 when Jose Altuve cracked a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 win–you got the sense that Houston would go back to Minute Maid Park and just take care of business.

That never happened. Instead, Texas went back to Minute Maid Park and won both games in convincing fashion–including 9-2 in Game 6 and 11-4 in Game 7.

The National League Championship Series was much more conventional–at least early on–with the Phillies, the fourth seed in the National League, winning the first two games at Citizens Bank Park. However, Arizona bounced back to take Games 3 and 4 at Chase Field to knot the series at 2-2.

But just like in the American League Championship Series, the Phillies, the defending National League Champions, took Game 5 on the road and were headed back to play in front of the home folks with a 3-2 series lead and needing only one victory for a second-straight appearance in the Fall Classic.

Speaking of those folks in Philadelphia, they created the most intimidating home-field advantage in the 2023 postseason. No way could the Diamondbacks go back there and win two games.

They did.

After surrendering 27 runs over the first five games to a Phillies’ lineup that was the hottest in baseball, Arizona limited Philadelphia’s hitters to just three runs over the final two matchups, winning both by scores of 5-1 and 4-2, respectively.

Who’s the favorite and who’s the underdog as the Rangers and Diamondbacks face off in Game 1 of the World Series Friday night at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas?

I’d have to go with the Rangers as the favorites, but no matter who winds up winning, it’s going to be a wildcard team that defied the odds and took advantage of the chance it got thanks to Major League Baseball’s expanded postseason format.


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