Postseason baseball is coming. And we can't wait.
No matter how things shake out between now and then, we are guaranteed to see great baseball. However, were it up to scribes such as myself to concoct an October map, there are some matchups that would provide a little extra drama, should they so occur.
This is just one man's opinion, but here are the 16 potential October '16 showdowns that would be the most intriguing.
16. Nationals vs. Mets
Hey, remember back when we collectively didn't pay much attention to Daniel Murphy?
Murphy in the 2015 postseason: .328/.391/.724, seven homers, 11 RBIs in 14 games
Murphy vs. the 2016 Mets: .413/.444/.773, seven homers, 21 RBIs in 19 games
Yeah, I think we'd pay attention to him in this one.
15. Rangers vs. Indians
At the Trade Deadline this year, the Indians had a deal worked out with the Brewers for Jonathan Lucroy. But Lucroy, out of concern for his 2017 playing time behind the dish with Yan Gomes coming back from injury and how that would impact his eventual free agency, exercised his right to veto the deal. Chris Gimenez, the Tribe's backup backstop and the Rangers' former personal catcher for Yu Darvish, publicly acknowledged that Lucroy would have been a big upgrade for the Indians, but he added, "Hopefully, we can win the World Series, and we'll be laughing at him."
So just for laughs, it would be fun to see how the catchers impact the outcome of this series.
14. Rangers vs. Astros
This matchup has been so remarkably one-sided in 2016 that a postseason meeting would be a true test of the "October is a season unto itself" theory. This is a possibility, because the Rangers currently have the American League's top seed and would face the Wild Card winner. They have taken 15 of 19 from their in-state rivals, with 12 of those wins decided by just one or two runs.
13. Nationals vs. Orioles
A Beltway brouhaha in an election year just feels especially appropriate, albeit not especially likely (the O's, at this moment, are given just a 4.8 percent chance of winning the AL Championship Series).
12. Blue Jays vs. Indians
These two clubs played one of the more objectively entertaining series of the season in mid-August -- a three-game set at Progressive Field in which every game was decided by a single run. They also played/endured a 19-inning affair in Toronto back on July 1. So we're talking about two evenly matched AL heavyweights.
But there's also the front-office element associated with this one. Mark Shapiro was the longtime leader of the Indians, the guy who worked himself up the ranks from intern to team president, only to leave late last year to head up operations for the Blue Jays, bringing his former farm director, Ross Atkins, along with him as Toronto's GM. So while the focus would of course be on the field, there are a lot of ties between the guys wearing the ties (OK, they actually don't typically wear ties, but the wording sounded good, so just go with it, OK?).
11. Mariners vs. Anybody
Dropping that series to Toronto this week puts Seattle's late-season push for a playoff spot on especially thin ice. But obviously, any October stage -- in this case, the Wild Card Game -- involving a team with the longest October drought in the game would be compelling. And man, it would be nice to see Felix Hernandez finally pitch in the playoffs, wouldn't it?
10. Red Sox vs. Indians
Personal connections add to the intrigue of what is currently lined up to be an AL Division Series.
Terry Francona and John Farrell are such close friends that Francona accompanied Farrell to his first chemotherapy treatment when Farrell was battling lymphoma last year. Francona is, of course, the former Red Sox skipper who piloted the club to two World Series titles, while Farrell is the former Tribe pitcher and farm director who left the organization to join Tito's staff a decade ago, eventually filling the manager role himself.
Red Sox GM Mike Hazen worked under Farrell in the Indians' organization, and Tribe first baseman Mike Napoli and reliever Andrew Miller were members of Farrell's bearded bunch that won the 2013 title (though Miller was injured in October). Drew Pomeranz would be facing the Indians team that traded him for Ubaldo Jimenez when he was a budding prospect, and Coco Crisp would face the Red Sox team that traded for him when he was an up-and-coming outfielder.
9. Dodgers vs. Giants
Two longstanding rivals, duking it out on the October stage.
I'm talking, of course, about Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig, though I suppose the Giants and Dodgers, at large, are pretty well-established rivals, as well.
We've already had three Bumgarner-Clayton Kershaw matchups in this regular season. I guess a couple more in the National League Championship Series wouldn't kill us.
8. Cubs vs. Nationals
Dusty Baker was run out of town when things went south on the North Side in the mid-2000s. Arguably the Cubs' greatest club since integration was the 2003 team betrayed by the Bartman foul ball and other mishaps in the potential Game 6 NLCS clincher against the Marlins. The 2004 club was also strong but endured injuries to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and fell apart in the final week of the regular season. Dusty has been unfairly blamed for the injury woes associated with both promising pitchers, and he was pushed out after '06 and replaced by Lou Piniella. He's got a new goal now -- to become the first manager to lead a D.C. team to a World Series title since Bucky Harris in 1924.
Doing so would require prolonging the Cubs' enduring drought in the LCS round, with or without the help of a fan in the stands.
7. Red Sox vs. Mets
A renewal of the 1986 World Series, 30 years later. What's the over/under on phone calls to Bill Buckner from inquiring reporters? One thousand? Two thousand? In the meantime, we have this…
6. Red Sox vs. Dodgers
Technically, this would be a rematch of the World Series that took place exactly 100 years earlier, when the Red Sox faced the Brooklyn ballclub then commonly known as the Robins (they would formally become the Dodgers in the early 1930s), so that's pretty cool. Boston won that one, 4-1, behind some great pitching, including 13 shutout innings in Game 2 from none other than Babe Ruth, who the Red Sox famously sold to the Yankees in late 1919.
The Red Sox aren't quite as regretful when it comes to letting Rich Hill walk, but, yes, Hill facing the Boston team that helped him re-establish himself as a starter would be a decent story, as would Dave Roberts facing the Boston team for whom he logged one of the most famous stolen bases in history.
5. Cubs vs. Cardinals
Well, hey, if you want to see Cubs-Cardinals, you can watch it this weekend at Wrigley Field. The Cubs, even with the NL's top seed virtually locked up, would be wise to keep their rotation in line to throw their best at a St. Louis club fighting for a Wild Card spot. Because you just know the Cards, provided they can get through that one-and-done, would relish the opportunity to undo the Cubs' 100-win campaign come October, just as the Cubs did to them a year ago.
Prior to 2015, this was a rivalry more in spirit than in substance. But we've got plenty of substance now, especially after the Cards took issue with Jason Heyward's comments about their aging core when he left St. Louis for Chicago in free agency. Heyward has largely been a free-agent bust in his first year with the Cubbies, but his point might have been proven with the Cards' struggle to gain traction here in '16. Still, the Cards' postseason pedigree and power-packed lineup would make them a dangerous club to totally count out.
4. Rangers vs. Blue Jays
Sometimes beefs are overblown, the remnants of a rumble proving short-lived. But you'd have to imagine there are lingering tensions here, given the way the Rangers waited until basically the last possible moment to exact revenge for Jose Bautista's bodacious bat flip in the 2015 Division Series.
It was the eighth inning of the sixth and final 2016 meeting between these two clubs way back in mid-May when the Rangers had ex-con reliever Matt Bush bean Bautista. And when Bautista made a hard slide at Rougned Odor's legs at second base, Odor uncorked a vicious hook to the face. It was an old-school brawl that gave legs to a newfound rivalry, one that could lead to another epic October tilt.
It could happen, too. The Rangers are currently lined up to face the AL Wild Card winner, and the Blue Jays are currently lined up for the AL Wild Card Game.
3. Nationals vs. Rangers
Because this ranking is so completely subjective, I don't mind injecting myself into the proceedings and pointing out that this was my World Series pick back on Opening Day. So the fact that it is actually still a possibility is incredibly unusual and, therefore, incredibly thrilling for me.
And look, while this would fall short of the intrigue associated with any Cubs World Series scenario, it still would lead to the abolishment of a longstanding historical hurdle. Both of these franchises date back to the 1960s, with zero World Series titles between them. The Texas Rangers, conveniently enough, began as the Washington Senators before moving to Arlington after a decade in D.C. And though the Nats emanated from the Montreal Expos, they have served as a replacement, of sorts, for the two variations of the Senators -- the one initially known as the Nationals (the name changed to Senators in 1956) that moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in '61 and the one that moved to Texas in '71.
(Yes, there will be a quiz later.)
2. Cubs vs. Red Sox
Hmm, ya think the head honchos at FOX might secretly be rooting for this ratings bonanza?
The rest of us have reason to root for it, too. Granted, it's not the Holy Grail of World Series matchups we appeared to be heading toward in 2003, before Aaron Boone and Steve Bartman became household names. The Red Sox ruined that possibility by crushing the Curse of the Bambino in '04.
But still… Theo Epstein watching this Cubs club he constructed from the ground up go against the Red Sox team he took to the Promised Land as a whiz kid GM is pretty rich. Epstein got burned out by the entertainment business that Boston baseball had become, and he embraced a new challenge -- the greatest challenge in the game -- when he took root at Wrigley in the fall of 2011. It would be appropriate for him to have to get through Boston to forever seal his legacy as the greatest curse-breaker the world of sport has ever known.
And yeah, a lot of people would tune in on TV, too.
1. Cubs vs. Indians
Oh, the angst.
Sure, this is another one affected by outside factors. The Cavaliers' NBA championship put a new shine on the city of Cleveland, and so the Indians wouldn't have quite the weight of history on their shoulders that they might have otherwise.
But the Tribe's World Series championship drought, dating back to 1948, is the longest in the AL, and the Cubs' championship drought, dating back to 1908, is, as you know, the longest in this (and presumably, any) galaxy. So for my money, the possibility of the Curse of Rocky Colavito meeting the Curse of the Billy Goat is as good as it gets in this postseason field.
This Series would also pit Boston legends Francona and Epstein against each other, which is pretty special, and Miller and Aroldis Chapman were both acquired in Deadline deals after beginning the year in the Bronx.
There's no question this would be a fascinating matchup. The question, rather, is whether it would be possible for both teams to blow it.
Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.