MLB Playoffs Begin In Earnest…

Now the MLB playoffs begin in earnest.  I have a love-hate relationship with the MLB playoff system up to this point in the season.

  • Part of me loves the second wildcard slot in each league.  That innovation produces a lot more September regular season games that are meaningful.
  • Part of me hates the idea of a single game elimination for the wildcard teams.

If it takes a six-month baseball season and about 159 regular season games to determine which teams belong in the playoffs, that is testimony to the fact that baseball is a game of ebb and flow.  After all the ups and downs of a season, it is incongruous to me to have a single game elimination concept in MLB.  At the same time, I completely appreciate the scheduling problems that would fall upon the World Series if my preferred 5-game/7-game series at every level of the playoffs were to occur.  We might wind up pushing the World Series back to Thanksgiving Week.

I can think of a couple of ways to try to accommodate my desires here; this is my preferred option.

  • MLB should go back to the idea of Sunday doubleheaders played mostly in the afternoon.  If they scheduled these events properly, that would allow for 20 such events for each team every season and that would shorten the regular season on the calendar so that the wild card playoffs could begin around 10 September.
  • Allowing 6 days for the 5-game wild card series starts the first elimination round in each league about 18 September.
  • Allowing 10 days for the first elimination round in each league to be a 7-game series would start the league finals on 28 September.
  • Ten days later – after another 7-game series to crown the champions in both leagues – the World Series could begin around 9 October and be finished well before Halloween.
  •             Let me channel Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise here as I address the leaders of MLB and MLBPA:

“Make it so.”

For the playoffs this year, I find the two NL pairings to be more interesting than the two AL pairings; the Braves/Cardinals match-up should be the most entertaining series of the four. I like the Dodgers to represent the National League this year and I like the Astros to be the AL champ.

As the NFL season enters its “second quarter”, lots of folks have focused on the fact that there are only 3 undefeated teams left – and few if any of those folks really think that the Niners at 3-0 are indeed in the elite class of NFL teams.  All the focus is on the two undefeated AFC teams – the Pats and the Chiefs.  As usual, the focus here in Curmudgeon Central is different.  When I look at the NFL standings, I see 6 teams that have not won a game yet.  So, from this vantage point, how bad are these teams?

  • Bengals:  The team probably kept Marvin Lewis around a couple of years longer past his “Sell By Date”.  When they went shopping for a new coach last Spring, they found that the job in Cincy was not one where agents were clamoring for interviews.  They reached for a new face on the sidelines and the transition is not going well so far.  In their loss to the Steelers on MNF, the Bengals looked unenergetic and unenthusiastic.  The good news here is that the Bengals have an experienced QB and will be getting AJ Green back on the field one of these weeks.
  • Broncos:  Hiring Vic Fangio to be the head coach was supposed to make the strongest part of the team – the defense – into a dominant gridiron force.  Let’s just say that has not come even close to happening.  Getting Joe Flacco to platy QB is an upgrade over recent seasons with the likes of Brock Osweiler and Trevor Simien, but Joe Flacco is not going to carry the team by himself.  If and when the defense springs to life, the Broncos can win a few games, but if they remain somnambulant, the wins in Denver will be few and far between.
  • Cardinals:  The Cards were 3-13 last year.  They ditched their rookie QB along with a rookie coach and drafted a new rookie QB and hired a new rookie coach.  For the moment, the Cards stand at the head of this listing because they have a tie game on their record instead of nothing but losses.  As my grandfather was wont to say:

“Thank the Lord for small favors.”

The Cards defense was not good last year and is not much better so far this year.

  • Dolphins:  Frankly, I don’t think the team is really trying to win games this year.  They have amassed a war chest of draft picks for players they have traded away, and the renaissance of the franchise depends very much on the team’s ability to hit the mark with all of its draft picks.  This team stinks.  Through 4 games, the Dolphins have been outscored by 137 points or 34.25 points per game.  It would be bad enough if the defense were giving up that many points per game but that is the point differential not the total points allowed per game!
  • Jets:  I believe this is the best team on this list and that the Jets are here because they have lost their top 2 QBs – one to injury and one to mononucleosis.  The jury is still out on the question of the fundamental competency of their new coach, but this team ought to win more than a handful of games this year.
  • Skins:  While the Dolphins are not trying to win – and it shows – the Skins are polar opposites.  They want to win and are trying but they don’t win because the roster is poorly constructed, and the organization is wrought with strife.  They cut a safety last year for saying that the defensive play-calling was inept; he was correct.  They continued the team tradition of bidding against itself to sign Landon Collins to a deal that will pay him about $14M per season.  That deal is right in line with the one that signed Josh Norman at $15M per season and Albert Haynesworth about a decade ago.  If press reports are even half accurate, last year’s draft represented the third time in his tenure as team owner that Danny Boy Snyder “intervened” to influence the drafting of a QB.  The previous two apples of his eye were Patrick Ramsey and RG3.  Let’s just say that history is not on the side of the Skins here.  The debut of Dwayne Haskins last week was not a good one; it evoked memories of Akili Smith.  [Google is your friend…]

Oh, by the way, the Skins and Dolphins will play each other next week.  The loser of that game should be relegated to the XFL.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation in the Seattle Times a couple of weeks ago:

“A pride of lions ate three poachers who broke into a South African game reserve to hunt rhinoceroses, Newsweek reported.

“This partial score just in: Lions 3, Raiders 0.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………