The Wild Card races felt a lot like March Madness. Crazy comebacks, buzzer beater-like endings and wild scenes of jubilation!
It was a night like no other in MLB history–and one we won’t soon forget–having witnessed the completion of two of the biggest September collapses ever!
What’s more, the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves were all within one out of victory, but lost.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay rallied from seven runs down. Baltimore touched up Jonathan Papelbon for just his third blown save of the season, and the Cardinals advanced behind Chris Carpenter’s complete game gem.
The last was my only disappointment of the evening. Watching a shirtless Ryan Theriot celebrate with his Cardinal teammates, fully knowing the Cubs should have eliminated St. Louis this past weekend, was somewhat irritating. But otherwise, what a terrific night for MLB and its fans.
Expanding the playoffs is no way to solve MLB’s problems. Fixing a competitive imbalance league-wide is.
Baseball is best served shortening its regular season to 150 games, starting sooner, ending earlier and getting out of the NFL’s way.
If anything needs expanding it’s the opening divisional round. Either make it a seven-game series, or grant home field advantage to the higher seed throughout the entire first round.
Presently, there’s little advantage to gunning for the division title if a team is already in position to make the playoffs. Playing all five games at home would change that.
Adding two more wild cards only cheapens the regular season. The problem isn’t too few teams in postseason play, but that they’re not enough teams that can actually compete for October.
Creating a salary cap of some sort has a better chance of improving the game in all markets, where as adding more Wild Cards improves the chance of more big markets playing in the postseason.
That’s good for television, of course, but bad for fans–a formula baseball’s had down for a long time.
Clifton Phifer Lee has become my favorite lefty since Tom Glavine retired.
Probably because Lee pitches like Glavine–with grace and with his head.
Earlier this year I hailed Lee as the best pitcher in baseball.
He showed why during the ALDS against Tampa Bay:
(2-0), 1-ER in 16 innings pitched, 21 strikeouts and zero walks.
Hard to believe Lee was passed over on waivers when the Indians shipped him to Triple-A Buffalo in July of 2007. Granted he was (5-8) with an unsightly 6.38 ERA at the time, but just a year later he would rebound to win the AL Cy Young Award going (22-8) with a 2.54 ERA.
Then try and wrap your brain around the Indians trading Lee to Philadelphia, who in turn dealt him to Seattle, who then made a joke of it by dealing Lee to Texas. And this is how the league treats its best starting pitcher in the game!
But that’s what I love most about Lee, his desire to succeed is stronger than his left arm. He’s handled the negatives, the trades and the pressure with absolute poise. He’s delivered at every stop, made every team he’s on better and dominated opponents throughout.
The only way it gets better from here is if Lee leads the Rangers past New York. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he does.
I’m happy for Roy Halladay.
Happy he made it out of Toronto.
Happy he ended up on a contender.
Happy he’s found continued success.
Happy he’s getting the attention he deserves.
Masterful performance Wednesday.
Reds were off-balance from start to finish.
Lots of swinging strikes.
Travis Wood, the pitcher, made the best contact all day–a fly out to right field.
I’d say Roy Halladay won himself a Cy Young Award, too. (Wink! Wink!)
–Reds fans waited 15 years for this day. And many more, I suppose, would choose to wait longer than watch the Redlegs make forgettable history. But the series is far from over.
St. Louis kicked Cincy in the teeth earlier this season, and look where that got them. There’s also the veteran leadership of Edmonds, Rolen & Rhodes, who have all been through tough playoff series. It’s simply a Game 1 loss, not a clinching loss or a home loss. No-hitter aside, it’s not over yet, people!
–Love Cliff Lee. He, like Halladay, was under-appreciated for a long time. During the last year he’s endured many difficulties professionally–trades, new cities, new homes, new teammates, new manager. But the guy just perseveres. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. Always strong in the clutch. Worth every penny. I love watching him pitch.
Why big league managers side with pitching experience vs. pitching talent come the post season is beyond me.
Look what David Price, a September call up with a mere five innings of MLB experience, did against Boston in game seven.
The super-talented lefty begins by striking out the hot-hitting J.D. Drew on four pitches before closing the deal in the bottom of the ninth helping send the Rays to the World Series.
Price’s outing reminds me of Joe Torre’s decision in 2005 to add 39-year-old Al Leiter to his playoff roster because the crafty left-hander had “experience,” never mind his regular season record of (7-12) with a 6.13 ERA.
Leiter pitched in four playoff games during 2005 posting an “experienced’ 7.34 ERA – now, that’s some kind of experience.
But, not even the great Torre is alone in his thinking; take Sweet Lou for example this October.
Piniella added the washed-up Bob Howry to his staff noting the right-hander’s decade worth of MLB experience.
And why not add Howry, he only finished his worst season in the bigs in 2008 (5.35 ERA).
Unfortunately, the Cubs played so poorly Howry never had the chance to further prove my point.
Meanwhile, during the same year of Torre’s blunder, 24-year-old rookie Bobby Jenks anchored the White Sox’s pen bringing the trophy to Chicago’s south side.
Three years earlier the Angels’ Francisco Rodriguez, a September call up like Price, dominated in the playoffs as well, winning five games in relief for the eventual World Champion Halos.
The following season ‘Trader Jack’ McKeon rode 21-year-old rookie Dontrelle Willis’ (3-0) post season all the way to the promise land.
So, when it’s a decision between experience and talent, I’ll take the later.