A while back, toward the beginning of the baseball season when every team except the Pirates, Rockies, and Orioles thought they might have a chance to make it to the playoffs, I wrote two articles.
Article Uno was the before the season really got underway and I explained how this year might – note the word might – be one of the easiest on record to predict regarding who will make it to the World Series. I said the Yankees and the Dodgers. The Dodgers, were 5 games back as of last week and are now one-and-a-half games back, and are still the NL favorite as well as the only team sitting at a whopping 23% chance to win the whole she-bang. Oh, gross.
Let’s take a long look at that – in spite of the surprising Giants, the Dodgers are catching up quickly. Mostly it’s a strength-of-schedule issue. The Giants simply have a harder schedule down the stretch. The Giants have the desperate Padres 7x in the next month. The Padres have completely drained their ‘sure bet’ playoff appearance by completely sucking in July and August. July they went 11-14 and for August they are sitting at 8-10 with three games against the Dodgers coming up this week. I hope they pound the Dodgers but odds aren’t good. Plus, they have 3 more versus the Dodgers in September and a whopping 7 against the Giants.
They are so bad they picked up Jake Arrieta. That’s a sign things won’t be going well for them for the next 5 weeks. Naturally, Arrieta’s first game may be his only one. We all knew he’d suck, he did, and suddenly got a hamstring issue. I fixed the headline for MLB.
I have been looking forward to this day since it was announced. I wasn’t sure it would happen, but here we are. EIGHT PLAYOFF GAMES. It may never happen again, folks. So today, we’re going to do something stupid. A live blog from first pitch to last pitch of the eight game slate. Four teams, including two of our World Series champion picks… are on the chopping block. So, here is the plan, according to Indianapolis Coastal Time (aka Eastern time).
Game 1- Reds @ Braves 12pm Game 2- Astros @ Twins 1pm Game 1- Marlins @ Cubs 2pm Game 2- White Sox @ Athletics 3pm Game 2- Blue Jays @ Rays 4pm Game 1- Cardinals @ Padres 5pm Game 2- Yankees @ Indians 7pm Game 1- Brewers @ Dodgers 10pm
Alright so that was something, right? About an hour after my fourth installment of predictions were posted, the league expanded this year’s playoffs to 16 teams. I kinda just tossed my arms in the air about it. Then it felt like the season would be canceled every day for about three weeks. Somehow, almost everyone played 60 games. So here we are, the field is set, and the chaos of a best-of-three first round series is ready for Tuesday. Who will survive all the way through the most bonkers MLB playoffs ever? Well, some of us got together in a digital way and tried to guess at it for your amusement.
I’m going to sprint through the baseball playoffs and sprinkle some ‘Maddon Moments’ in to explain, in my mind, what happened to Maddon and the Cubs, while using Ditka like he used Bears fans.
By the time you read this, the wild card games – October 1 and October 2 – may be over, or at least started. It doesn’t really matter much. Those four teams can douse themselves in all the champagne they want, but it’s pretty much a cheap victory. Put it this way, it’s the same kind of victory you get when you visit your elderly grandmother at her assisted living facility and win their corn hole tournament.
But before we dig into the wild card teams, let’s just take a look at the 2016-2019 Cubs vs the 1984-1987 Bears. If you look at their timelines, they are a tad similar. And you can argue both Maddon and Ditka can only deal with the hands they are dealt. True. Think of this like Texas Holdem. Ditka was holding the king and queen of hearts and staring at the ten, jack and ace of hearts face up on the table… and threw out the king ‘aka’ Wilbur Marshall. Maddon’s hand, while good, was an ace and a ten. Still a potentially winning hand, but could have been better. Cubs management bet high on a good, but ultimately bad hand.
OK, now let’s place a hand on the wild card teams – The Rays, the A’s, the Brewers, the Nats.
To start, baseball still is “America’s Best Pastime.” Football is “America’s Biggest Obsession.” Now that I have you sports fanatics all in a lather, especially those of you who prefer to crush heads over crushing baseballs, I’m going to drag you deep into the depths of my MVP opinions, ones that I hold as close to my person as a pitcher does his glove when he’s talking to his catcher.