Hey baseball fans!
Matt Nadel here with another ML“what would”B! Today, I will answer the following question: WHAT IF THE 1994 STRIKE NEVER HAPPENED???!!!
In August of 1994, a player-owner argument stops the season at 113 games, cancelling the rest of the season, including the playoffs. But what if that never happened? Well, for starters, there would have never been three divisions per league because the Commissioner never would have signed that new player deal. So there would still have been just an East and West division in both the American League and National League. Following that setup, the World Series of ’94 would have featured the White Sox against the Expos. In a thrilling battle that lasted seven games, the Expos emerge the victor, giving Canada three straight World Series rings, and Montreal’s first title. The next season still has two divisions per league, so no matter what, “THE TEAM OF THE ‘90s HAS ITS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!” In other words, the Braves beat Cleveland in six, because in real life, they were both the number one seed in their leagues. The next year, the Yanks don’t get to the World Series because Cleveland wins the East. However, the Fall Classic features the Braves against the lowly Rangers, who won just 90 games during the season! However, they don’t stand a chance against the defending champs, right? WRONG! With the help of AL MVP Juan Gonzalez, the Rangers slaughter the Braves in six, giving Texas its first championship.
In 1998, the Brewers decide to stay in the AL instead of going to the NL, instead of what they do in real life. So, that means that Wade Boggs and the expansion Rays go to the NL instead of the junior circuit. That doesn’t matter, because like in real life, the Rays stink for their first ten years of existence. Back to the Brew Crew, hearing that Milwaukee baseball is staying as it is, the legendary Paul Molitor wishes to get traded back there from Minnesota and his wish is granted. Because this trade was made, Alex Rodriguez wants to go to Milwaukee too, so he can get some hitting tips in the future from Paul. This trade also happens and the Brew Crew becomes a juggernaut in the AL East for that year. But you have to remember; my Yanks won 114 that year and were also in the AL East. So, Milwaukee playoff baseball is still dead. In the ’98 Series, the Yanks still beat the Padres in a sweep. In ’99, the Rangers get back to the playoffs on the back of Juan Gonzalez, again named the AL MVP. The NL representative in the World Series that year is not the Braves, but the Mets, who win the NL East division. The Mets are losing in Game Six 4-3 in the bottom of the tenth with two outs, one out away from a Texas Series win. That’s not what Mike Piazza had in mind. With the count 2-2 and Scott Brosius on second, Texas pitcher Pedro Martinez throws a high fastball, inches away from Piazza’s head. When Pedro gets the ball back, Piazza yells to him, “Remember what Puckett did in ’91?” Martinez doesn’t answer, but just like Kirby Puckett in the 1991 World Series for the Twins, the Mets catcher hits a Series-tying homer to send the Fall Classic to Game Seven. There, the Mets crush the Rangers 11-0, for their third World Series title.
Let’s skip to 2001, where after Gonzo finishes off the Yanks in Arizona, the NFL announces that the 2002 season will be played with four divisions per league with four teams per division. The Commissioner of the MLB, Bud Selig, likes the idea, and lucky for him, two teams in particular are having financial troubles and the players want more money, the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals. The verdict that Selig comes up with is the idea to split the two teams in half. So half of the Royals become the Carolina Bobcats, while half of the Expos become the Washington Nationals. Washington also has to move to the American League to make the leagues equal. So, by the 2002 MLB season, the divisions looked like this: AL East: Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Blue Jays; AL North: White Sox, Indians, Nationals, and Brewers; AL South: Royals, Bobcats, Angels, and Orioles; AL West: Mariners, Athletics, Rangers, and Twins. NL East: Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, and Pirates; NL North: Expos, Red, Cubs, and Rockies; NL South: Braves, Marlins, Astros, and Rays; NL West: Diamondbacks, Giants, Dodgers, and Padres.
So, like the NFL, the new playoffs consist of four division champions and two Wild Card champs in each league. The top two seeds get a series off. So, if you apply these rules to the actual 2002 MLB season, here are the teams from each league that make the playoffs from top seed to sixth seed. In the AL, we have the Yankees, Athletics, Bobcats, White Sox, Mariners and Angels. In the NL, we have the Braves, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Expos, Giants and Dodgers. In the Wild Card Round, the Angels, Mariners, Giants, and Cardinals move on. In the Divisional Round, the Yankees, Angels, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers move on. In the ALCS and NLCS, the Yankees beat the Angels and the D-backs beat LA. Finally, in the World Series, the Yanks beat Arizona in a sweep. Isn’t everything so simple, here in the ML“what would”B?