Now that we have concluded business in the MLB Sweet Sixteen, naturally, it’s time for the MLB Elite Eight. There are a lot of teams here that belong here, but perhaps some that don’t. The 15-seeded 1998 Atlanta Braves squad is attempting an amazing Cinderella run to be crowned the greatest MLB team of the last century. There are also the plucky 12-seed 2019 Houston Astros. In reality, they lost to the equally plucky Washington Nationals in that year’s World Series. In our world of fantasy matchups, they are the underdogs, facing a tough second-round challenge in the 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers.
Then, there are the dominant squads like the aforementioned Dodgers or the top-seeded 2001 Seattle Mariners. The latter barely made it out of the first round. Now, they take on the 2018 Boston Red Sox in a much tougher battle. Meanwhile, the three-seed 1954 Cleveland Indians, led by the power bats of Larry Doby and Al Rosen, face Brooks Robinson and the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. There are some really exciting contests to get to, so let’s not waste any more time. Here are the results of the MLB Elite Eight.
MLB Elite Eight
1-seed: 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46) vs. 9-seed: 2018 Boston Red Sox (108-54)
Fresh off defeating the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sends staff ace Rick Porcello to the mound. Mariners manager Lou Piniella counters with Aaron Sele, who won 15 games during the regular season. It’s a close contest, punctuated by excellent efforts from each roster. The Red Sox, normally known for their power, instead play an interesting game of small ball. It’s single city for the boys from Beantown, as they notch eight on their way to 11 total hits. The scoring is led by an RBI double from J.D. Martinez and a two-run homer from Xander Bogaerts.
On the other side, the Mariners cannot figure Porcello out. Their somewhat frightening offense is stymied by the Red Sox ace. Bret Boone is held hitless and John Olerud and Edgar Martinez are held to one hit apiece. They do manage to scratch two runs across, thanks to an RBI triple from Ichiro Suzuki and an RBI single from Mike Cameron. However, Sele is somewhat shaken by the Red Sox offense. There is also a controversial decision to bring in Jose Paniagua instead of Arthur Rhodes to face Bogaerts in the seventh inning. Bogaerts promptly crushed the aforementioned bomb. The Mariners’ final nail was Craig Kimbrel, who notched yet another save to help send the number-one seed packing.
Final: Mariners 3, Red Sox 2
4-seed: 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers (111-51) vs. 12-seed: 2019 Houston Astros (107-55)
The Dodgers come roaring into their MLB Elite Eight contest after defeating their in-state rivals, the 2021 San Francisco Giants. Manager Dave Roberts is poised for battle, sending ace Tyler Anderson to the hill. Meanwhile, the upstart Astros and their skipper A.J. Hinch push their own ace in future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander. Once more, fans get to experience a close contest fought between two of the best pitching staffs in recent memory. Unfortunately for the Dodger faithful, Anderson gets shaken by the dynamic duo of George Springer and Jose Altuve. They combine for five of the Astros’ 13 total hits. Michael Brantley also adds a three-hit performance. However, they struggle with runners in scoring position and the Dodgers only give up one run through seven innings. Homers by Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor account for Los Angeles’s scoring.
In the top of the eighth inning, with Dodger Stadium absolutely raucous, the home team sends in its setup man, Evan Phillips. The heart of the Astros lineup is at the plate, with Carlos Correa leading off. He promptly hits a game-tying home run to pull the Astros back from the brink. After Yuli Gurriel strikes out, up steps Josh Reddick. Phillips works the count full before hurling a fastball that’s just a little bit too good. Reddick’s eyes light up and he crushes it to dead center field, thus giving the Astros a 3-2 lead. A combination of Will Harris and Roberto Osuna is enough to shut the Dodgers down, sending Houston on to the Final Four.
Final: Astros 3, Dodgers 2
3-seed: 1954 Cleveland Indians (111-43) vs. 6-seed: 1969 Baltimore Orioles (109-53)
The 1954 Indians are coming off a besting of the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals. Now, manager Al Lopez seeks to enhance his club’s chances by sending his ace, Hall of Famer Early Wynn, to the mound. The 1969 Orioles manager, fellow Cooperstown inductee Earl Weaver, sends Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar to the hill. Both sides are filled with exceptional talent. The Indians have Hall of Famer Larry Doby and franchise legend Al Rosen on their side. The Orioles are countering with the tri-headed monster of Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson.
Over a three season stretch (1969-1971) Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar was 67-28 with 59 Complete Games and 12 Shutouts pic.twitter.com/JXMVbmLZW0
— OldTimeHardball (@OleTimeHardball) November 18, 2022
In a shocking turn of events, the game is a shutout victory for the Birds. The Indians, despite outhitting the Orioles by seven, fail to score once. Cuellar is excellent with regard to control, using his arsenal to force the Indians into a grandiose amount of groundouts. Offensively speaking, the Orioles use smart batting and small ball to pick up the win. Though they only pick up seven hits, they are patient at the plate. Don Buford, Paul Blair, and Frank Robinson each walk once while Powell walks twice. RBI hits from Blair, Robinson, Davey Johnson, and Mark Belanger punctuate a fantastic performance in Cleveland.
Final: Orioles 5, Indians 0
7-seed: 1961 New York Yankees (109-53) vs. 15-seed: 1998 Atlanta Braves (106-56)
Our final matchup in the MLB Elite Eight is something of a déjà vu affair. The Braves have already taken down one historical New York Yankees team. Now the question is whether or not lightning can strike twice. Skipper Bobby Cox is taking no chances as southpaw legend Tom Glavine takes to the mound. Opposing him is right-hander Bill Stafford and manager Ralph Houk is hoping that he can follow up Hall of Famer Whitey Ford’s excellent first-round showing. This game is somewhat like a logrolling contest. Whoever slips off first will go down in a heap.
Sadly for Braves fans, it turns out to be Atlanta as the Yankees win by a final score of 3-2. Glavine and Stafford are both excellent. However, Stafford, for this one night, outduels the Hall of Famer. It’s also a battle of the bats as both sides utilize their best hitters to duke it out. Mickey Mantle picks up his first home run of the tournament and Andres Galarraga crushes his second. Chipper Jones and Walt Weiss turn in multi-hit performances for the Braves. For the Yankees, Bobby Richardson picks up two hits from the leadoff spot. The hero for New York is Clete Boyer, whose clutch RBI double scores Yogi Berra and gives the Yankees a permanent lead.
Final: Yankees 3, Braves 2
MLB Elite Eight Recap
Thus ends the Cinderella story of the 1998 Braves. That said, there is still one more double-digit seed in play, that being the 2019 Astros. Their Final Four matchup with Alex Cora’s 2018 Red Sox should be an absolute barn burner. These are two of the best squads that the American League has had in recent years. On the other side of the coin, we have the matchup from history. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and the 1961 Yankees will take on the Robinson duo, Boog Powell and Earl Weaver’s 1969 Orioles. The Final Four is coming soon, and each team wants to be labeled the best of the last century. Only time will tell who emerges on top.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Players Mentioned: Larry Doby, Al Rosen, Brooks Robinson, Rick Porcello, Aaron Sele, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Bret Boone, John Olerud, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Jose Paniagua, Arthur Rhodes, Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Anderson, Justin Verlander, George Springer, Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Evan Phillips, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Will Harris, Roberto Osuna, Early Wynn, Mike Cuellar, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Don Buford, Paul Blair, Davey Johnson, Mark Belanger, Tom Glavine, Bill Stafford, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Andres Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Walt Weiss, Bobby Richardson, Clete Boyer, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris