Texas Rangers' and former Mississippi State player MitchÂ Moreland, right, congratulates catcher Mike Naploi after a Rangers win this season. (Photo by LM Otero, AP)
This is elimination day for the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Not only will the season come to an end for either the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers or Baltimore Orioles, there will be individuals with ties to Mississippi State baseball that will be going home for the winter.
The St. Louis Cardinals have made the trip to Atlanta for the 4 p.m. National League Wild Card game against the Braves today.
For the defending World Champion Cardinals, Chris Maloney, who played for the Bulldogs from 1980-83, is in his first season as the first base coach in St. Louis. Maloney, a native of Jackson, has been in professional baseball for 25 seasons and it is good to see him get this opportunity with the Cardinals.
Paul Maholm, a lefty who pitched at MSU from 2001-03, made the move from the Chicago Cubs to Atlanta in the middle of the season and has contributed to the playoff run for the Braves. Maholm has a record of 13-11 with a 3.67 earned run average in 189 innings pitched.
For Maholm to get an opportunity to pitch in the playoffs, Atlanta will have to defeat St. Louis first. The Cardinals have to go into the matchup with confidence because there's still enough talent left from last year's team that knows how to get things done.
Waiting for the winner of that series will be the Washington Nationals and former Bulldog Tyler Moore. Moore, who played at MSU in 2008, hit .263 with 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in for the Nationals during the season.
In the American League Wild Card playoff game, the Texas Rangers host the Baltimore Orioles at 7:30 p.m. today.
Mitch Moreland, who played for the Bulldogs from 2005-07, will be trying to make an appearance in the World Series for the third consecutive season with his Texas teammates.
The Rangers were overcome by the Oakland A's for the AL West title, so if Texas is going to make it back to the WS, it will have to be the hard way.
Standing in the way will be manager Nat "Buck" Showalter's Orioles.
Showalter played for coach Ron Polk at Mississippi State in 1977, and has gone on to have a tremendous career in baseball, both in the dugout and in the television studio.
He is in his 14th season as a manager in Major League Baseball and has also served time as an ESPN analyst. His .459 batting average in 1977 still stands as a school record with the Bulldogs.
Showalter tries to figure out how to get Moreland out so Baltimore can continue its magical season, but one must know that the Rangers want another chance at a ring, so don't expect them to go down without a fight.
Another former MSU player that has spent time with ESPN is Jeff Brantley. Brantley, who pitched with the Bulldogs from 1982-85, is a radio broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds. He enjoyed a 14-year Major League career which included a stop in Cincinnati.
MSU baseball fans are always proud of their sport for accomplishments on the field and having these former players involved in the playoffs certainly helps.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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