MLB Prime Time: Field of Dreams and a Complicated NL East

MLB Prime Time: Field of Dreams and a Complicated NL East

by August 14, 2021 0 comments

It appears as though Major League Baseball has found its second version of the “Midsummer Classic”. 

August 12, 2021, will forever be known as the day when the inaugural Field of Dreams game took place. The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox arrived in Dyersville, Iowa hours before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown. And what transpired from then to the ninth inning of the AL affair was a moment in time. 

White Sox closer Liam Hendriks was tasked to get the final three outs in the top of the ninth, supported by a 7-4 lead. Watched by 8,000 live spectators in a unique major-league setting, Hendriks allowed four runs, including two long-balls to both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton

But even the Yankees’ dramatic comeback in the top of the inning wasn’t enough to put a wrap on the historic night. Chicago stormed right back against Zack Britton, courtesy of a two-run walk-off home run by Tim Anderson

It goes without saying that MLB’s goal with the Field of Dreams game was to make a spectacle. They succeeded. Beyond that though, the league may have found their own version of what so many of their contemporaries are doing mid-season. 

The NHL’s Winter Classic

The National Hockey League has spent the last decade scheduling Stadium Series games and outdoor spectacles of their own during its regular season. But most notably, the league’s annual Winter Classic is the “big sell” each January. Along with the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, the Winter Classic serves as the league’s second major event mid-season. 

The Field of Dreams game and what it could represent for the MLB in years to come can play the exact same role. 

Despite both the Yankees and White Sox playing meaningful baseball in August, the teams’ records and playoff positioning, or lack thereof, were secondary on Thursday. 

MLB’s first edition of the spectacle is what made mainstream news the morning after. 

Complicated NL East 

When the New York Mets walked into their clubhouse on July 30, the NL East division appeared to be theirs to lose. Add the pending acquisition of Javier Baez into the equation, and that sentiment would only be confirmed. 

Since then, the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves have been on a quest to write a new script. The injury-riddled Braves have won nine out of their last 11 games, while the Phillies have clawed their way back to occupy the top spot in the division.

The aforementioned injury-riddled Braves aren’t alone on the health front. Their rival-Mets have dealt with similar concerns, most notably to right-handed ace Jacob deGrom.

But at the center of the NL East discussion is former Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper. The Phillies’ outfielder may not be the front-runner for this year’s NL MVP. At the very least though, he’s put himself into the conversation. 

Harper has raised his OPS to .969 since the all-star break and has launched five home runs in his first 11 games of this month. The outfielder’s name hasn’t been seriously mentioned in MVP discussions since his historic 2015 campaign with the Washington Nationals. 

During spring training, the NL East was viewed as one of the league’s most difficult divisions to compete in. What’s transpired instead has been the complete opposite. The leader of the East currently trails the next-best division leader by 10 games (Milwaukee Brewers). In all likelihood, there are no wild-card hopes in the NL East. 

Win the division or bust. The most complicated division in the MLB has lived up to its name in August. 

The Look Ahead

Phillies’ Next 10 Games

Vs. Cincinnati 

Vs. Cincinnati 

@ Arizona

@ Arizona

@Arizona

@ San Diego

@ San Diego

@ San Diego

Vs. Tampa Bay

Vs. Tampa Bay

Braves’ Next 10 Games

@ Washington

@ Washington

@ Miami

@ Miami

@ Miami

@ Baltimore

@ Baltimore

@ Baltimore

Vs. New York Yankees

Vs. New York Yankees

Mets’ Next 10 Games

Vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

@ San Francisco 

@ San Francisco

@ San Francisco 

@ Los Angeles Dodgers

@ Los Angeles Dodgers

@ Los Angeles Dodgers

@ Los Angeles Dodgers

Vs. San Francisco

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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