Here we are, in the heat of the playoffs, and we’ve got four classic teams left in the running, the Tigers against the Red Sox, and the Cardinals against the Dodgers. So far, in keeping with baseball’s increasing irrelevancy in the National Dialogue, I have not watched any of the games. From a distance it seems like all the series were close and competitive, and especially the Tigers-A’s series, going the full five games, with the Tigers winning 3-0 behind Verlander in the final game. Verlander had an off-year this season, with a 13-12 record and a 3.46 ERA, so it was nice to see him come up with a big win here. I do feel for the A’s though, for some reason. Probably because of the Moneyball book, and wanting Billy Beane to win the series.
All major league sports go on too long. In the next century there will only be a week-long hot stove league. Playoffs will extend the game into February, with the world series being played in early March. The season will be a long slog aimed at eliminating the two worst teams in each league. After the season there will be a 7 game wild-card playoff aimed at eliminating the third worst team, and the winner of that series will be the wild card in the next seven game series between the three less worse teams. All the early losers will descend into the losers-bracket, for more exciting action. If all goes well, there will be about 150 playoff games, slowly whittling the contenders down to the two lucky champions to play in the World Series, just prior to the opening of spring training.
Needless to say, I think baseball has lost some drama by extending the playoffs endlessly. Unless you live in one of those playoff cities (and soon everyone will live in a playoff city by default) it’s hard to generate much interest for those early games. I think the playoffs initially made sense, East Division vs. West Division, though they should have been best of seven series from the beginning. Now there is just too much, too long.
The best records in the two leagues:
St. Louis 97-65
Los Angeles 92-70
If this were the old days, where the season was actually a pennant race, rather than a play-off race, we’d be having a Red Sox – Cardinals World Series. We’ll see if it comes to that. It’s a fairly rare occurrence these days, where the best teams over the season wind up playing in the series. The playoffs are a whole new ball game. Who’s peaking at the right moment? Who has the hot hand? Who’s healthy? In a seven game series, pretty much anything can happen.