Postseason storylines: Cubs hope to change fortunes; David Ortiz eyes storybook end

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The MLB postseason opens this week with no shortage of intrigue as the Chicago Cubs try to snap the longest title drought in professional sports history while Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz seeks a storybook ending to his career.

The Cubs, who over the years have endured plenty of heartache, boast a stacked lineup and rock-solid pitching that have made them the odds-on favorite to shed their "lovable losers" image and win their first World Series title since 1908.

Chicago, who were the only MLB team to reach the 100-win mark this year, open their playoff campaign at home on Friday in a best-of-five National League Division Series versus the winner of Wednesday's one-game wild card showdown between the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.

SEE MORE: Where all MLB playoff teams stand entering the playoffs

The Cubs checked all the boxes they set out to achieve during the regular season, and even went beyond one goal by winning 103 games, and as a result have no plans to change their approach for the postseason.

"There's nothing different to do right now except play the game," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "It's about whether your pitcher pitches better, if we catch the ball. I don't want us to do anything differently."

The other NL matchup will see a pitching-rich Los Angeles Dodgers team that tore though the second half of the 162-game regular season battle the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals, who will host the series opener on Friday, have a solid pitching corps to complement their offense but will need to overcome injuries to a number of All-Stars if they are to erase memories of early playoff exits in 2012 and 2014.

The American League's top-seeded Texas Rangers, bolstered by one of MLB's most potent offenses and a deep starting rotation, open their division series at home on Thursday versus the winner of Tuesday's wild card showdown between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.

In the other AL Division Series, Ortiz will lead the Red Sox into a best-of-five clash with the Cleveland Indians that starts on Thursday in Ohio.

25 best baseball players of last 25 years
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25 best baseball players of last 25 years

Honorable Mentions:

Craig Biggio, Roy Halladay, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Mussina, Joe Mauer, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Jeff Bagwell, Eric Gagne, CC Sabathia, Tim Hudson, Chase Utley, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Juan Gonzalez, Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitle, Curt Schilling, Bobby Abreu, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Beltran, Edgar Martinez, Johan Santana, Jason Giambi, Raphael Palmiero, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff.

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

25. Mike Trout

Rookie of the Year, MVP, 4-time All-Star

(Harry How via Getty Images)

24. Jim Thome

600+ home runs, 5-time All-Star, 72.9 bWAR

(BRIAN BAHR via Getty Images)

23. John Smoltz

200+ wins, 150+ saves, 8-time All-Star

(Doug Pensinger via Getty Images)

22. Frank Thomas

2-time MVP, 4-time All-Star, 500+ home runs

(TIM ROBERTS via Getty Images)

21. Mike PIazza

All-time catching home run leader (400+ home runs), 12-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year


20. David Ortiz

9-time All-Star, 3-time World Series champion, 400+ home runs

(Jim Rogash via Getty Images)

19. Vladimir Guerrero

9-time All-Star, MVP, 400+ home runs, .318 batting average, 126 outfield assists

(Doug Pensinger via Getty Images)

18. Tom Glavine

2-time Cy Young, 10-time All-Star, 300+ wins

(MARCOS TOWNSEND via Getty Images)

17. Randy Johnson

10-time All-Star, 5-time Cy Young winner, World Series champion

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

16. Manny Ramirez

12-time All-Star, 9-time Silver Slugger winner, 2-time World Series champion, 2,500+ hits, 555 home runs

(Stephen Dunn via Getty Images)

15. Greg Maddux

4 consecutive Cy Youngs, 8-time All-Star, 18-time Gold Glove

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

14. Miguel Cabrera

10-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, 400+ home runs

(Leon Halip via Getty Images)

13. Ivan Rodriguez

14-time All-Star, World Series champion, MVP, 13-time Gold Glove award, 7-time Silver Slugger winner, 300+ home runs

(Rich Pilling via Getty Images)

12. Albert Pujols

3-time MVP, 10-time All-Star, 500+ home runs, 2-time Gold Glove

(Rich Pilling via Getty Images)

11. Sammy Sosa

600+ home runs, 7-time All-Star, 6-time Silver Slugger

(New York Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

10. Mark McGwire

12-time All-Star, 583 home runs, 2-time World Series champion

(Sporting News Archive via Getty Images)

9. Ken Griffey Jr.

13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, MVP, 4-time home run champion

(Scott Rovak via Getty Images)

8. Derek Jeter

14-time All-Star, 5-time World Series champion, 3,000 hits, 5-time Gold Glove

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

7. Cal Ripken Jr.

19-time All-Star, 2-time MVP, 8-time Silver Slugger, MLB record for consecutive games played (2,632), 400+ home runs

(The Sporting News via Getty Images)

6. Alex Rodriguez

14-time All-Star, 3-time MVP, 40-40 season, 600+ home runs, 3,000+ hits


5. Mariano Rivera

13-time All-Star, 5-time World Series winner, All-time saves leader (652), World Series MVP


4. Pedro Martinez

8-time All-Star, 3-time Cy Young, 3,000+ career strikeouts


3. Tony Gwynn

15-time All-Star, 7-time Silver Slugger winner, 8-time batting champion, 3,000+ hits

(Sporting News Archive via Getty Images)

2. Roger Clemens

7-time Cy Young winner, 357 wins, 11-time All-Star Game, 2-time World Series champion, MVP

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images)

1. Barry Bonds

Home run king (762), 14-time All-Star, 7-time MVP

(MIKE FIALA via Getty Images)


For Boston's Ortiz, who already announced this would be his last MLB season, a fourth World Series title would allow him to put an exclamation point on what has already been one of the greatest final seasons by a player in MLB history.

In his 20th campaign, the 40-year-old slugger had a .315 batting average, 38 home runs, and 127 runs batted.

Ortiz built much of his reputation as one of the game's most feared hitters with several monumental postseason performances and his Boston teammates are hopeful Big Papi has one more deep run left in him.

"I've seen him for 10 years and it's pretty special," said long-time Ortiz teammate Dustin Pedroia.

"Every time there is a big situation, he's always finding a way to come through. We're going to enjoy the last games we have with him because it's pretty special what he's done."

Ranking MLB stadiums
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Ranking MLB stadiums

30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays

The playing surface is a mixture of grass and artificial turf, and there are fire inspection rings in play over head. Must be a joy to play in.

(AP Photo)

29. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays

The only things worse than this warehouse-looking place are the metric measurements on the outfield walls.


28. Coliseum, Oakland A's

Any place sewage seeps back through the clubhouse drains probably isn’t a suitable location for pro sports.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

27. Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Rangers

Remember when this place was state of the art? Neither do we.

(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

26. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox

What’s more bland than the Chicago White Sox? Their uniforms. What’s worse than that? The stadium.

(AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

25. Turner Field, Atlanta Braves

This place won’t live to see its 20th birthday. Good luck to the Braves’ next home, which will probably still always be empty, too.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

24. Marlins Park, Miami Marlins

Makes perfect sense for an orange and teal team to play in a stadium with neon green everything. Also, has anyone ever figured out what exactly this is? 

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

23. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

Nothin’ like some fake rocks in center field to really set the mood for a baseball game.


22. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians

The fact that it’s no longer Jacobs Field bumps this down at least five spots.


21. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

Can this place just stay out of the playoffs just once?


20. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds

How cheap is that wind tunnel?

 (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

19. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks

Center field is the deepest part of the stadium, guys. The wall doesn’t need to be that high.

Clintus McGintus/Flickr

18. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees

Great place to see the best baseball players of the 20th century.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

17. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers

Bernie sliding down that slide for every home run is ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Every time.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

16. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies

Once you get over the fact that some little league parks have deeper fences? Cool place to catch a game.

 (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

15. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers

They should probably just name it Vin Scully Stadium at this point. Might help them out in these rankings.

 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

14. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals

The scoreboard being shaped like a long crown is a bit odd, but you can’t blame them for playing up the whole royalty thing.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

13. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies

If it’s not a blizzard in Denver, Coors Field is still pretty impressive. But let’s lose those humidors and get these balls flying like its 2001. 

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

12. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers

Credit to the grounds crew for making sure the infield didn’t collapse through the ground while Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera manned the corners. That approached a good 600 pounds of man.

 (AP Photo/Matt Halip)

11. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros

Get back to us next year, once that ridiculous hill and flag pole are scrapped.

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

10. Target Field, Minnesota Twins

You probably won’t want to sit outside in Minnesota until about mid-June, but after that, Target Field is tough to beat.

 (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

9. Citi Field, New York Mets

Ownership may be fresh out of cash, but at least its stadium has an awesome selection of $12 beers. 

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

8. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals

It’s been seven years, and the team just can’t sell these naming rights. Strangely, this makes the park even cooler.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

7. Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners

For a stadium that opened up in 1999, the Mariners’ digs have held up pretty well -- even when their roster hasn’t.

 (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6.. Petco Park, San Diego Padres

Fun fact: An old candy factory building was physically moved to make room for the stadium. 

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

5. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Relax, Fenway is definitely an amazing place to watch a game. But sitting directly behind a pole and/or facing the left-center field wall just isn’t always appealing.


4. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

We’re glad the Cubs decided to keep their old home intact, but there’s no two ways about it: Until renovation is complete, Wrigley is a dump.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates

After two decades under .500, the Pirates are finally playing some winning ball again. Good thing, because their park deserves as many games as possible.

 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles

Still as beautiful as the day it opened in 1992, Camden Yards is headed toward becoming the next legendary American ballpark. 

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

1. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants

Already 15 years and three names later, AT&T Park remains the best place to watch a Major League Baseball game. Between the amazing food, packed-out stands and the glistening bay in right field, San Francisco is lucky to call it home. 

(AP Photo)


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