The ALCS series featuring the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros is a tale as old as time. The Rays, upstart young guns with outstanding defense and an analytics-driven managerial style, aiming for their first World Series appearance since 2008. The Astros, the evil sleeping giant that everyone in baseball despises for their cheating ways that led to a ring in 2017. It's not quite biblical, but it's close.
For the first few games of the series, it seemed good would prevail. The Rays beat down Houston as the main perpetrators of the sign-stealing debacle were folding under pressure. The virtual jeers rained upon Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa and everybody else in that dugout who believes they are being unfairly targeted. The Rays took a 3-0 lead.
Then the Astros won Game 4 to stay alive. And Game 5. And then Game 6. Suddenly, Goliath was alive and kicking. Suddenly, the Rays were on the ropes. Suddenly, the worst-case scenario for most baseball fans has turned into a terrifyingly strong possibility: the Astros might become only the second team in MLB history to come back from 3-0, in a year where many of us would enjoy nothing better than to see the team crumble to pieces.
The 'Stros have the momentum after coming back in Game 6. Former Astro Charlie Morton will be tasked with taking Tampa Bay home. Lance McCullers takes the mound for Houston to try and complete this improbable comeback. Unlike most baseball postseason series, neutral fans (by and large) feel like they have a stake in the outcome. The Astros are the bad guy in this movie.
But the year is 2020, and in this reality, the bad side often wins. It would only be fitting for the Astros, after a year of everyone taking inordinate pleasure in their failures no matter how small, to defy the odds in a way only the Boston Red Sox have ever done. It would come three years after stacking the odds aggressively in their favor by bending and breaking the rules of the game, a cardinal sin in the game of baseball where written and unwritten bylaws are of utmost importance.
It would be objectively remarkable if the Astros pulled this off. Pretty much everyone on the roster has had a subpar season for their standards. Yet here they are. One win away from returning to the World Series and giving a big middle finger to every jeer thrown their way, loud as ever even without fans.
Good vs. Evil will commence tonight at 8:37 p.m. ET. It'll be something to watch, no matter who prevails.