Like the autumn countryside, baseball in October got colorful and fun.
Winner-take-all games dotted the landscape like orange leaves.
For the first time in history, all four division series went the full five games. In the last two years, if you count the one-game wild card series, 10 of 13 series have gone to the final game.
From 2005-2010, 13 of the 24 series were sweeps.
Home field advantage — the carrot for playing hard in the all-star game?
The Giants, with backs to the wall at 0-2, swept the Reds at home to win their division series. The Cardinals came from 6-0 down early to the Nationals, one of the greatest single-game comebacks in playoff history. Detroit ended a tight series in Oakland.
Pitching, defense, timely hitting and grit trump the home edge. Between the lines, it comes down to basic and fundamental baseball.
And many of us saw in postseason what makes baseball fun and exciting, the slow-moving but tensely strategic game we grew up loving:
Games decided on the last at-bat.
Comebacks. Grand slams. Shutouts.
Walk-off home runs.
Clutch relief pitching from unsung heroes.
Lousy relief pitching from star closers.
Balls just eluding a fielder’s lunge.
Extra-inning drama. Fantastic finishes.
Lost sleep with late games for devoted fans.
And, as usual, the Cardinals are Team October, finding an edge like a squirrel does acorns. The Giants are steady and relentless. The Yankees? Business as usual. And as usual, good managing. Tough series
Detroit? Great play down the stretch and steady managing. Gritty.
The Nationals and the Orioles? Nice to see fresh faces in the postseason. They were happy to be there and played well.
And the Braves? They’re Team August or (early) September.
What the division series did was set the stage for more for the League Championship Series and the World Series.
The bar is high.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)