Although the Cubs' bid to return to the postseason fell short, there is a smattering of familiar faces still in the hunt following the wild card round. But none face higher expectations than Orioles manager Brandon Hyde, who was the bench coach on Chicago's 2016 World Series team.
Ahead of the 2019 campaign, Hyde got an offer to manage a Baltimore team that was embarking on what was sure to be a lengthy and painful rebuild. His mentor, three-time manager of the year Joe Maddon, urged him to accept - and it's paid off in a big way this year, with the Orioles emerging as surprising champs in the American League East with 101 regular season victories.
"I was happy for a lot of people, and very relieved also. And proud of our club. A lot of emotions go through when the ball gets to first base for the last out. Just proud of really our players and coaches and everybody that’s been through these five years. ... It was a special moment."- Brandon Hyde on O's 2023 success
Former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde has the Orioles flying high heading into an ALDS matchup with the Rangers
The Orioles' division crown marked the team's first in nearly a decade - and put the finishing touches on an impressive season that saw a number of young players play key roles for the team, including likely AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson.
It's a team that's easy to root for - and one that's very similar to the 2015 Cubs, who burst onto the scene after tanking and re-building through the draft under Theo Epstein. They're full of young, exciting players and had their coming out party a little earlier than anticipated, upsetting the likes of the Rays, Yankees, Jays and Red Sox en route to the American League's top seed.
So if you, like me, are a Cubs fan looking for somewhere to throw your fandom for the next few weeks: here's your solution. Brandon Hyde and the on-the-upswing Orioles, who are ready to make some noise in October.