Dynasties and bragging rights are at stake as the MLB playoffs heat up

    Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with teammates after his walk-off home run in the ninth inning to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

    (CNN)After a truncated, pandemic-hobbled 2020, the MLB playoffs have come roaring back in full force.

    A wild end of September saw several teams fighting for spots in the postseason right up until the final regular season game, and some World Series favorites still catching their breath after 11th-hour playoff clinches.
    Now, after Chris Taylor's dramatic home run Wednesday night lifted the defending champs Los Angeles Dodgers past the St. Louis Cardinals, eight teams remain.
      In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays will battle the Boston Red Sox while the Chicago White Sox face off against the Houston Astros.
        Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves face the Milwaukee Brewers while the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants meet in an epic clash between archrivals with the two best records in baseball.
        Here's a recap of the late-season twists and turns that got us here, and a look at the best playoff storylines.

        Two bitter East Coast rivals squeak into the playoffs

          Every once in a precious while, 162 regular-season games just aren't enough to paint a full postseason picture.
          Only 16 times in MLB history have tiebreaker matchups been needed to determine division winners or wild-card spots.
          Fans this year were itching for some Game 163 action in the American League, which could have ended in a three- or even four-way tie for the wild card.
          But the Yankees and Red Sox both clinched playoff spots on the very last day of the regular season, edging the surging Toronto Blue Jays and surprising Seattle Mariners.
          The Boston Red Sox celebrate with champagne in their clubhouse after winning the 2021 American League wild card game against the New York Yankees.
          And the drama wasn't over! That set up a crucial one-and-done duel between the two most storied rivals in baseball. The Red Sox beat the Yankees, 6-2, on Tuesday before a thunderous home crowd at Fenway Park and now face the Rays, who easily won the AL East division.
          The Rays have their own score to settle, though: They lost last year's World Series to the Dodgers.

          On the West Coast, the returning champs face a resurgent dynasty

          The Los Angeles Dodgers are loaded with talent, won 106 games and are favorites to repeat their 2020 World Series glory.
          But they came very close to not even making it this far -- thanks to their divisional rivals, the San Francisco Giants, who won 107 games and snatched the NL West division title from the Dodgers on the very last day of the season.
          Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit a crucial home run in Wednesday's wild card game.
          That sent the Dodgers to the NL wild-card game to face the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards were heavy underdogs, but in a one-game playoff, anything can happen.
          For a while it looked like the Cardinals might hold on to an early 1-0 lead and shock the champs, but