Although the playoffs have been exciting so far, I’m going to refrain from commenting on the games. I get excited for the games, but they don’t usually leave me with a lot to say. I’m not the type of person who forms strong reactionary opinions after one game; weird things can just happen in baseball. Sometimes your 50-save closer blows a lead in the ninth. Sometimes your team comes back from six down. It happens.
But I do have some various stray thoughts, and I feel like collecting them. So check back for shorter reflections.
On of these thoughts has to do with the teams left. Really, it’s several related thoughts, I guess. First of all, this set Championship Series seems dull. Not to me, as a Cardinals fan. Just in general. As I mentioned last year, if my teams are eliminated, I generally go for the longest playoff drought. This year, your options are:
Tigers-Nothing since 1984, but they did just hand out the fifth largest contract in MLB history last offseason
That’s...well, there isn’t exactly an underdog there. And to think, teams knocked out so far have been:
Nationals-Never even been to a World Series
Orioles-1983 Winners, first winning season since 1997
Rangers-Never won a World Series
That’s particularly depressing, from a “Breaking droughts” perspective. But oh well. It is what it is.
Also, something interesting I learned the other day was that there has never been a World Series between two expansion teams. It’s true; since the first AL expansion in 1961 (and the first NL addition the year after), expansion teams have won only nine titles. Those nine:
1969-Mets over Orioles
1985-Royals over Cardinals
1986-Mets over Red Sox
1992-Blue Jays over Braves
1993-Blue Jays over Phillies
1997-Marlins over Indians
2001-Diamondbacks over Yankees
2002-Angels over Giants
2003-Marlins over Yankees
Yep, every one of those came against an original team. This streak couldn’t even end this year, as the AL didn’t even have an expansion team make the Division Series.* It’s kind of an interesting look into the disparities between the original sixteen and the new teams.
*Which kind of makes me sad a Nationals-Rangers** series didn’t happen. It looked like it could for a while, too. Again, oh, well.
**For reference, for an all-expansion series, we would need some combination of: Rays, Blue Jays, Royals, Astros, Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Nationals, Mets, Marlins, Brewers, Rockies, Padres, or Diamondbacks. So if you’re hoping for one in 2013, you’ll probably need to pin your hope on Texas, Anaheim. Tampa, Nationals, Brewers, or Diamondbacks, with the Blue Jays and Padres as the strong-farm team surprises.
Going back to the current match-ups, it’s entirely possible we have the worst match-up ever this World Series. And it’s not just the second wild card’s fault; the Cardinals and Tigers both won only 88 games. I feel like this is a good way to simultaneously point out how ridiculous the extra wild card is and how imbalanced the divisions can be. Both should probably be addressed, but knowing Bud Selig, it probably won’t happen until after MLB gets around to adding replay in 2024.*
*Which, based on my estimates, will be Seilg’s seventh season running the League as a zombie.
Also also, as a final post-script, why is everyone giving A-Rod a hard time about his poor performance? I realize it’s bad (.143/.143/.143). I also realize he’s 36, and he’s lost a step from his peak. Where’s the anger for Derek Jeter (.200/.333/.200)? Or Curtis Granderson (.000/.222/.000), or Nick Swisher (.250/.333/.375), or Russell Martin (.222/.222/.222), or Robinson Cano (.000/.000/.000)? None of them are exactly lighting it up, and yet we still get articles about A-Rod choking. ESPN even asked the other day “Who do you blame most of the Yankees’ problems after A-Rod?”
The 36-year-old, oft-injured third baseman/DH was the guy you were counting on to carry the offense? Not the 31-year-old center fielder who finished fourth in MVP voting last year? Or the 29-year-old second baseman who is arguably the second-best player in the AL this year? That’s just a little silly.