In a postseason transformed by return of fans, Astros and Red Sox ready to bring the noise

The MLB playoffs mark a 180-degree turn from the fanless, soulless, neutral-site postseason of 2020. And it’s a change everyone welcomes.

10/15/2021 10:26:00 PM

The MLB playoffs mark a 180-degree turn from the fanless, soulless, neutral-site postseason of 2020. And it’s a change everyone welcomes.

These MLB playoffs mark a 180-degree turn from the fanless, soulless, neutral-site postseason of 2020. And it’s a change everyone welcomes.

The setting was a fanless, neutral-site stadium, San Diego’s Petco Park, half a continent away from Houston. The only crowd noise was of the manufactured variety, piped in through the speakers. The humanlike cardboard cutouts behind home plate stayed in their seats and made not a peep, even as a jubilant Correa cheekily cupped his hand to his ear rounding third.

Covid-19 Vaccines or Infections: Which Carries the Stronger Immunity? Omar Seeks Action Over Far-Right Congresswoman's Islamophobic Remarks 1st injectable, bimonthly HIV treatment approved in UK

As a baseball moment, it was divine — the only walk-off homer out of a record 53 games played last fall in a postseason unlike any before it. As a reminder of where we were as a society last fall, near the heights of a global pandemic that made it necessary to play baseball in a sensory-deprivation tank, it was painfully sad.

In the deciding clash of MLB’s titans, the Dodgers got the last word against the GiantsA similarly triumphant moment this weekend, as the Astros prepare to host the Boston Red Sox in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS on Friday and Saturday at what is expected to be a jam-packed and raucous Minute Maid Park, would look, sound and feel vastly different. headtopics.com

It might look, sound and feel something like the walk-off homer Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez smashed in the 13th inning against Tampa Bay Rays reliever Luis Patiño to win Game 3 of the AL Division Series at Boston’s Fenway Park on Sunday night: the sellout crowd erupting, the home run ball engulfed by fans in the Green Monster seats, the entire stadium joining in for a rousing rendition of the Standells’ “Dirty Water” — Fenway’s traditional victory singalong.

AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementAs if anyone needed reminding, this postseason already has made clear how much was lost during 2020’s convoluted, made-for-TV postseason — when the majority of games were played without fans and the National League Championship Series, ALCS and World Series were held at neutral sites — and how much has been regained with stadiums returned to full capacity and home-field advantage again holding sway.

What is also clear: A crowd is not simply a cosmetic feature of postseason baseball that can be shrugged off or replicated with cardboard cutouts and fake noise. It is a living, breathing thing that is as essential to October baseball, as we have come to know it, as the bases and the umpires. The difference between the 2020 postseason and the 2021 version is almost literally like night and day.

In Atlanta and Milwaukee, a season without Hank Aaron leave a 'void'“This is what baseball is all about,” Astros Manager Dusty Baker said of the contrast. “Last year was great, but it wasn’t the same as previous years, because nobody was there. I mean, you know what you’re playing for, but it’s a little different in front of cutouts than it is in front of actual people. . . . It’s not just background noise. It’s actual noise and electricity in the building. And that’s why we play.” headtopics.com

Queen Elizabeth only picks up the phone for these two people, royal expert says It’s Time to Get Rid of the IT Department Bus driver shortage hurts D.C. region’s ability to return to pre-pandemic transit service levels

It could just be the imagination — or the juxtaposition with the sad, soulless atmospheres of a year ago — but the crowds this postseason, from coast to coast, have seemed louder, more joyous, more vibrant, more engaged than ever.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisement

Read more: The Washington Post »

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Trailer Unleashes a Multiverse of Villains

Tom Holland surprised fans at a launch event in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where the mood was electric.

Mookie Betts Is a Superstar Rarity in the MLB PlayoffsThe presence of Mookie Betts in the NLCS only underscores a strange reality in baseball: The biggest-name players in the game are no longer playing. They never made the playoffs at all. Tell me you don’t know anything about baseball without telling me you don’t know anything about baseball That’s the beautiful thing about baseball, one or two superstars can’t carry a team. It takes everyone. It’s the best and most fair game the world has ever known.

Ray Fosse Dies: Oakland Athletics Broadcaster And MLB All-Star Catcher Was 74Ray Fosse, who spent 35 years broadcasting Oakland Athletics games after a 12-year career in Major League Baseball, has died at age 74. He had battled cancer for 16-years, a statement from the team… Sad, sad news. He was truly a great person. great person and leader catcher for oakland A's ripray

Nicole Scherzinger is red carpet ready in the most spectacular gownNicole Scherzinger brought it to the latest episode of The Masked Singer in spades, wearing a show-stopping curve-hugging gown

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor Among Players To Watch In LCS RoundAmong the players to watch in the League Championship Series round of the MLB postseason are the Red Sox's Nathan Eovaldi, the Astros' Alex Bregman, the Braves' Joc Pederson and the Dodgers' Chris Taylor.

Ellen Pompeo: Reuniting With Kate Walsh on 'Grey's' a Long Time Coming.EllenPompeo is just as excited for katewalsh return as GreysAnatomy fans. EllenPompeo katewalsh che bone

Kate Walsh Reveals Why Grey's Anatomy Fans Will Be 'Surprised' By Her Return - E! OnlinePaging Dr. Addison Montgomery! The fan favorite physician is back at Grey Sloan and Kate Walsh dished on how her Grey's Anatomy return will 'surprise' fans. Plus, hear her BTS set stories.