Like Hayden Grove, I was rooting for the underdogs in MLB’s playoffs. Being a Red Sox fan, my team had left the fight sometime in July, so I began looking around at potential teams I could root for once the playoffs began. I’m not alone in this, I know. I would like nothing more than to have seen the Athletics and Orioles battling it out in the ALCS with the Nationals and Braves doing the same in the NLCS. While it is difficult to call the Braves or Nationals “underdogs”, they are in comparison to the two teams that have last won the World Series (Cardinals and Giants.)
Fresh blood was what MLB could use to prove that it wasn’t going to be “always the same” teams as more than one text from friends suggested. Forgetting about what MLB did to Montreal, Washington would have been a nice addition to the playoff mix, and baseball is always more interesting when the Braves are in the mix.
Alas, the baseball gods were having none of that, and instead handed us a platter of Yankees, Tigers, Cardinals, and Giants. All of these are terrific baseball towns, with a litany of Hall of Famers to their credit. Still, I’m not really interested in any of them adding more hardware to their franchise totals.
It’s not as if the Athletics, Braves, and Orioles have never won (the Nationals/Expos actually have not ever won), because they have. Once upon a time, the Orioles were a model baseball franchise. The Athletics throughout their history have been very good and at times historically bad. They haven’t won a World Series in 23 seasons, however. It’s been 29 seasons for the Orioles. The Braves have the most recent win in this group, having defeated the Indians in 1995. Of the 4 outsiders, they’ve clearly had more success since their championship season, but not winning gets old after a while. These are franchises that could have gone further then they did, but were unable to break through.
I blame Bud Selig for this mess (did you really expect anything else?) I wrote back in back in January how big of a mistake I thought it was for MLB to expand their wild card to 2 in each league. If MLB had only listened, our playoff scenarios might be much different, and far more interesting than they currently are.
If MLB had listened, when the final standings posted, it would have left the Yanks, Tigers, and Athletics as division winners with the Orioles as the wild card in the American League; while the National League would have offered up the Nationals, Reds, and Giants as division winners, with the Braves as the wild card. You’ll notice right off that one of our final 4 doesn’t even make the playoff dance. Theoretically, this is a bad thing, except it’s really not. With the Cardinals out of the race, it would have guaranteed that either the Nationals or Braves would advance to the NLCS to face the Giants (who proved they were better at least in this one series than the Reds.)
The American League would have seen the same match-ups, but perhaps a fresher Orioles team that didn’t have to waste Joe Saunders to get by the Rangers in their play-in game could have finished off the Yankees, instead of going home in excruciating fashion to the Yankees. If they could have managed that, we would have had a Detroit-Baltimore ALCS and an Atlanta/Washington-SF NLCS, giving us a 50/50 shot of having at least one team worth rooting for in the World Series.
Instead, we get the same old retreads. Yeah, I like watching Verlander carve up the Yankees, and sure the Cards-Giants have provided some drama, but it’s not what I want. If my team can’t win, I sure don’t want some other successful team winning. I want the underdog, the team no one saw coming. Television execs would have likely freaked out, but a Baltimore-Washington or a Baltimore-Atlanta series would have been exponentially more interesting to watch for me as a fan.
Instead, we’ll ‘suffer’ through a Tigers-NL winner Series. What could have been a monumental shift for one or more MLB franchises was cut down before they ever had a chance.
Thanks a lot for that, Bud.
What’s your thoughts on MLB’s 2012 post-season? Would you rather different teams had made it through?
Let me know: