First and foremost this postseason, I hope the Minnesota Twins win it all. If that can’t happen, all I ask for is some excitement in major league baseball’s postseason. It’s been a long time since there’s been some serious drama for the baseball playoffs.
My definition of a great postseason is fairly simple: a lot of series-deciding games and underdog victories. I need plenty of division series that go to five games and championship series and World Series that reach the seventh game. By this definition, the last good postseason was 2003.
In the last decade of postseason play, there have been 70 series: 40 division series, 20 championship series and 10 World Series. Only 27 percent (19) have gone to a deciding game. It’s up to you to determine if this number is low, but to me, it’s far too low. Why? Because it’s October and soon I’m not going to see competitive baseball for five lonely months and I want to see as much as possible before I spend 10 minutes every morning scraping ice off my windshield while dreaming of the warm breeze running through the upper deck of Target Field.
I’ll break down the number of deciding games in each series:
Division series – 25% (10 of 40)
Championship series – 35% (seven of 20)
World Series – 20% (two of 10).
Only two World Series have reached a seventh game and they came in back-to-back seasons (2001 & 2002). This is the lowest total by decade since the 1930s, when there was also only two seventh games (the highest total was six, in the 1960s). This cannot stand. I realize a good seven-game series has a lot to due with luck and getting two very evenly matched teams against each other. There’s not much more to it than that. This blog is not about solutions or reasons why baseball hasn’t had a good postseason for a while. It’s pretty much just a baseball fan venting his frustration.
Despite Minnesota’s first of four straight first-round exits in the 2003 playoffs, it proved to be a great October to watch baseball. In the division series the Cubs and Braves traded wins with Chicago taking the final game thanks to the pitching of Kerry Wood. The Oakland A’s took the first two games against the Red Sox, only to watch Boston win three straight to send them to the ALCS against the Yankees. The Marlins / Giants series proved exciting even if it was decided in four games with Florida winning the fourth game thanks to the heroics of Ivan Rodriguez.
Then came the championship series. On paper they look exciting with both games going to a seventh game. In real life, they were more than exciting. At the time, I was rooting for the Red Sox and Cubs, as was most of the nation. The Red Sox hadn’t won their World Series they’d get the next year and spawn millions of bandwagon fans and the same can be said for Cubs fans … minus the World Series title, of course. Boston held a 5-2 lead of the seventh game entering the eighth inning. Some Red Sox fans will point fingers to manager Grady Little or Pedro Martinez, but I pointed straight up to Babe Ruth. It was the last year of the curse of the Bambino as he guided the Yankees to score three eighth-inning runs followed by an eleventh inning home run by Aaron Boone to take the Yankees to the World Series.
On the north side of Chicago, there was also a curse involved, but this one hasn’t been broken yet and has much more to do with a poorly run organization and play. With the Cubs holding a 3-2 lead in the series and a 3-0 lead in the eighth inning, Moises Alou threw a conniption fit when he wasn’t able to make a catch on a foul ball in the stands which then caused shortstop Alex Gonzalez to drop an easy ground ball which then caused the Chicago Cubs to wet the bed and allow eight eighth-inning runs and lose 8-3. Wood was rocked in the seventh game and Florida won to take the NL pennant.
The World Series didn’t go seven games, but when the Yankees are involved, I also root for a quick finish. Josh Beckett shut down New York 2-0 in the sixth game, giving the Florida Marlins their second championship.
That was a good World Series. The last great World Series was in 2002 when the Anaheim Angels defeated Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants four games to three.
Seven years! It’s been seven years since baseball fans have seen a truly great World Series and six years since there has been a good amount of drama throughout the postseason. We’re due.
What do I want from my postseason? I want John Smoltz versus Jack Morris-style pitching duels. I want underdog victories from the small-market teams as well as teams who haven’t been seen in the postseason for a long time. I feel like a James Bond villain as I say this, but I want the Yankees eliminated! I don’t want to see them in the championship series, let alone the World Series. The same can be said for the Philadelphia Phillies, but not to the same extent. I like the players on the Phillies, but they’ve been dominating the National League playoffs the last two seasons and I’d like to see someone new in the World Series.
There are some great story lines waiting to happen, but none of them include Mariano Rivera getting the last out in another World Series. No one thought the Reds would be better than the Cardinals, much less the rest of the division. The Giants lineup, with exception to rookie Buster Posey (great baseball name, by the way), is from the land of misfit toys. Baseball fans would like to remember Bobby Cox’s last postseason as a competitive one. No one believes in the Rays, especially in Tampa Bay. The Rangers have never won a postseason series. The Minnesota Twins are the greatest baseball organization in the history of mankind.
There are so many good things that can happen this postseason. I’m hoping for all the baseball that’s possible. The postseason will consist of between 24 and 41 games. C’mon baseball, we won’t see you for a while … let’s make it last.