The storylines are plentiful as MLB’s Division Series kickoff today.
The Yankees-Rays series has a great chance to boil over. These two teams really hate each other.
The A’s-Astros is another one people will be watching closely with the man who outed Houston’s cheating scandal, Mike Fiers, pitching for Oakland. Almost everybody in MLB America will be pulling for the A’s to slay the cheating ’Stros.
In the NL, the Atlanta-Miami matchup is another good one. But probably the best of all, will be the Dodgers-Padres. And not just because it pits the best team in all of baseball, L.A., against its little brother, the Pods.
This series will be must-see TV for one reason and one reason only — Fernando Tatis Jr.
He’s a walking highlight reel.
Some believe he’s the biggest star since Ken Griffey Jr. And not just with talent but with street cred, name recognition, too. It’s a dream scenario for MLB.
Tatis, just 21, is a player you can’t help but watch all the time. He grabs your attention in the field, on the bases and especially at the plate.
There’s no going to the bathroom or grabbing a snack when the Padres shortstop is in the batter’s box. He’s one of those rare talents that you don’t want to miss, can’t keep your eyes off of.
The Padres appeared dead in the first round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis won Game 1 and had Game 2 in control with the innings melting on the Padres season faster than an ice cream cone in August.
Then Tatis stepped to the plate and awakened both his team and the sport of baseball, yet again.
This dude did it in the regular season, too.
But this was bigger and better. San Diego was down four runs in the sixth inning when he exploded. His three-run homer ignited his team and sent them en route to a 11-9 win.
It came with a suitable-for-framing bat flip that quickly was compared to Jose Bautista’s infamous postseason flip for the Blue Jays.
Controversy isn’t new for Tatis. Earlier this season, he got pushback for swinging 3-0 and hitting a grand slam with his team up seven runs. The Rangers weren’t happy with him and denounced him for breaking an “unwritten rule.”
But Tatis got mad love from Hall of Fame players like Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench. And some of his peers around the league also backed him.
For people who don’t know, Tatis Jr. comes from a baseball family. His dad was a good player, too. Once in fact, while playing for the Cards, Tatis, Sr. hit two grand slams in one inning. Yes, it was a feat that had baseball buzzing and put his dad’s name in MLB’s record book as the only player to do it.
Now, it’s his son’s turn and he hasn’t missed the opportunity to shine.
In no way is this simply hype about Tatis, Jr. Think about this. Many consider Mike Trout to be the best all-around player in the game today. Heck, many believe when his career is all over that, in fact, Trout will be the best to have ever played the national pastime. And that’s saying a lot.
In the first 100 games of their careers, Tatis, Jr.’s stats were even better than Trout’s. Junior was first in HRs (30), slugging percentage at .625 and OPS (1,010). It says a lot for the potential of Tatis moving forward.
It appeared as if Tatis had a real shot to win the NL MVP back in August. His bat was en fuego. But he slumped in September and fell out of the race, batting just .164 in the final 20 days of the season.
And while the regular season is a good stage to make a name for yourself, the postseason is where you become a megastar, a household name.
After this five-game series against the Dodgers, many only will know more about Tatis but will want to get a look-see as often as possible.
The Padres just don’t have a star in the making, MLB does as well.
Get your popcorn and grab a cold one to watch the hottest thing on TV.