The MLB Playoffs

Today, let me catch up with the MLB Playoffs.  In the National League, the D-Backs swept the Dodgers which led lots of commentators to conclude that the expanded MLB Playoffs have “devalued the regular season”.  Their reasoning went along these lines:

  • The Dodgers won 100 games in the regular season and the D-Backs squeezed into the final expanded playoff slot with a modest 84-78 record.
  • Then in a spasm of lethargy, the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs and summarily shunted to the sidelines.
  • Somehow, these commentators seem to think that the Dodgers’ elimination somehow deprives baseball fans of something that is critical to the fans’ enjoyment of the Playoffs.

First, regarding any sort of “deprivation”, I think that is nonsense.  Yes, every Dodgers’ fan feels “deprived” of a chance to continue to have their heroes compete for a World Series Championship.  Such is not the case for D-Backs’ fans or for fans of baseball in general.

Winning 100 or more games in the regular season is a laudatory accomplishment and the Dodgers have now done that three years in a row.  Winning 100 or more games will guarantee a team a slot in the Playoffs – – but nothing more.  The Dodgers have not won a World Series in any of those last three years with their 100+ regular season wins – – and that’s OK.

In the other NL bracket, the Phillies eliminated the Braves for the second year in a row.  And like the Dodgers, the Braves had a significantly better regular season than the Phillies.  The Braves won 104 games and finished 14 games ahead of the Phillies in the NL East standings.  Sure, I would have enjoyed watching the Dodgers and the Braves duke it out for the NL’s pennant and World Series entry.  But that was simply not to be in 2023 …

If I have counted correctly:

  • Since 2011, there have been 23 teams to win 100+ games in the MLB regular season.
  • Seven of those teams have made it to the World Series.
  • Five have won the World Series
  • Sixteen of those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs on the way to the league pennant.
  • What happened to the Braves and the Dodgers – – and the Orioles in the AL – – this year is not unheard of.

Last night in Game 1 of the D-Backs/Phillies series, the Phillies hit three home runs in the first two innings and went on to win the game 5-3.  Two of those homeruns came in the bottom of the first inning and neither one was a fluke; you knew those balls were going over the fence as soon as they left the bat.

In the AL playoffs, the “upstart” Rangers bounced the 101-win Orioles from the playoffs in a sweep and the Astros eliminated the Twins in a business-like manner.  The Astros and Rangers finished the regular season with identical records of 90-72.  However, the Rangers have now won the first two games of the series with both games having been in Houston.  If you believe in “home field advantage”, the Rangers are clearly in the catbird seat as of this morning.

Orioles’ fans, Braves’ fans and Dodgers’ fans can lament the hand that was dealt to their favorites – – as they should.  Nevertheless, I and others who are fans of baseball as a sport can adapt, turn the page, sit back, and watch/enjoy the Rangers, Astros, D-Backs and Phillies carry on.

Switching gears …  The White Sox and the Red Sox had disappointing years in 2023 and both teams fired their GMs during the season.  When teams disappoint on the field, it is often the case that the GM and/or the field manager gets the axe; such is life in MLB.  However, this year there is a “surprise opening” in one of the GM suites.

  • The Miami Marlins finished third in the NL East and made the NL playoffs.  The Marlins finished ahead of the free-spending Mets and the still-rebuilding Nats.
  • Yesterday, it was announced that the Marlins and their GM. Kim Ng, have come to a parting of the ways.  There was a “mutual option clause” in Ms. Ng’s contract that the Marlins exercised, but she declined the extension on her end of the deal.

Kim Ng is the highest-ranking female executive in MLB’s history; her team just made the playoffs with a young roster and she – reportedly – walked away from the job.  Seems strange at first but there are some reports out there saying that her reason was that she was going to be “downgraded” in Miami.  According to those reports, the team wants to hire a team president to whom the GM would report starting in 2024.

Obviously, I have no insight into the negotiations in Miami; but it seems to me that the Marlins’ ownership appears to be mighty meddlesome at this point:

  • They will lose in the PR world parting company with the highest-ranking female baseball exec ever.
  • They will lose an exec who put together a playoff team in 2023.
  • They stand to gain an organization with an additional level of “management”.

So, this is progress … ???

Finally, since today has dealt with success and failure, let me close with this observation by author, Joseph Heller:

“Success and failure are both difficult to endure.  Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, depression, neurosis and suicide.  With failure comes failure.”

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



2 thoughts on “The MLB Playoffs”

  1. As a long time Dodger/baseball fan, I disagree regarding your “let the chips fall where they may” attitude about the post season. Putting 12 teams into the playoffs practically guarantees that better teams will be eliminated in a short series. The Dodgers are 38 – 16 against the DBacks the last 3 years, 8 – 5 in 2023. No real question as to the better team. Putting a dozen teams into the playoffs boosts revenues but clearly devalues the regular season. It makes the road to the World Series a crap shoot favoring who is hot in the short term, rather than pitting the best against the best. This year, it looks as if no Division winner will even make it to the Series which is a sad commentary on the October Classic.

    1. martin rober:

      Welcome aboard.

      Just about every sports league finds ways to get as many teams as possible into the playoffs; some – – such as the NBA – – stack the playoffs so bountifully that the regular season is almost an extended “Spring Training’.

      Baseball is a game that players have trained themselves to play “every day”; pro football is a game that players have trained themselves to play “weekly”. I think there is a significant challenge for a team that has a BYE in a baseball playoff round to sit on its hands for 5 days or so before it is called back into action. I do not like the idea of expanding the MLB playoffs to 16 teams – – more than 50% of the two leagues – – but that would eliminate the down time for division winning teams.

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