Hey, how about that Wild Card game last night? What a game or what a dud, depending on how it went. I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon because I'm a total sham. I hope that it was a great game, but I'm unwilling to update this to reflect my true feelings. In the spirit of laziness, here are some fake questions that will serve as my playoff preview. Because of course, you cannot live without it.
Do you like the Wild Card games?
~Fake Person, Fake Place (Getting lazy)
I do. I like baseball and these are baseball games. Sure, they don't fit the traditions of baseball, but neither do t-shirt guns and kiss cams, but we've integrated those just fine. The Wild Card games are quite entertaining and I imagine they are very fun for the involved teams' fan bases. The Twins played in consecutive Game 163s and I remember those games more than any playoff game they played in during the 2000s. Winner-take-all games are officially fun, even if the all they take is hardly all at all.
I am a Twins fan so I don't know what "playoffs" are. Which team should I root for once I figure out what I am rooting for them to accomplish?
~FP, FP (so lazy...)
In my opinion, there are exactly five acceptable bandwagons to jump onto: The Royals, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles and As. You could talk me out of the Orioles and As because of their lineage, but their successes happened years ago. In case you were wondering why those five: the Dodgers, Angels and Tigers are too rich, and the Cardinals and Giants are too successful. The Giants are rich too. This isn't the 80s, we don't like rich and successful anymore. Those five teams have slicked-back hair and suspenders. The other five surf.
Now, if you're going to jump on a bandwagon, you want the ride to be substantial. I'd cross the Royals and As off your list. Sure, one of those teams is going to make the Divisional Round (note - it was the [winner from Tuesday], see I did update some of this!), but I don't see either team winning in that round. Sadly, I think the Wall Street Giants are likely to beat Pittsburgh tonight, so they're out too.
That leaves the DC/Maryland area. The Nationals had the best record in the NL and they used to be the Expos. They also have that punk Bryce Harper and they're rich. If there's one thing we hate more than successful rich people, it's their punk kids. The Orioles were surprisingly good this year but they have that cheating punk Nelson Cruz on their team. That's no good. Plus, they're kind of rich too. Where is all this money coming from!
You know what, just root for the Pirates or the Royals. You'll feel good about it and you can feel cool on the internet too.
(Note - I believe nothing I wrote in those paragraphs. Additionally, I know nothing of the following: the 80s, slicked-back hair, surfing, punks, and baseball.)
(Note 2 - I totally watched the game last night. Root for the Royals).
It seems the National League is better than the American League. Would you agree?
~Fakey P, Fakeville, USA
Yes, and I agree a lot. I honestly cannot see an American League team winning the World Series. I think the three best teams in baseball are all in the National League - Giants, Nationals and Dodgers. I could see any of those three beating every AL team left. Of course, I am very biased against the Tigers, so that could be clouding my judgment. Mike Trout could also transform into a baseball monster and devour all comers, but that seems unlikely. He'll probably just be really good at baseball but not a mythical creature.
Put it this way, if there's a way to bet on a league to win the World Series, I would bet your house on the NL. Of course, it's your house, not mine.
Does excellent starting pitching really matter as much as we are lead to believe? Can you provide some research to back up your answer for once?
~Angry Jerk, Jerk Store
Yes and no. I could provide some research, but then how will I find time to watch this Seinfeld episode that I've seen 15 times and that I just referenced? If you can figure that part out for me, I'll gladly do some research.
Anecdotally, I don't think starting pitching is quite as important as we're lead to believe. By the time the playoffs roll around, most of the remaining teams have pretty good starting pitching. The Dodgers had amazing starting pitching last year, but they didn't even reach the World Series. The Tigers appear to have dominant starting pitching, but I'm not going to pick them to get out of the Divisional Round. I think the starting pitching adage is an outdated one, but I will tell you this much for sure: you will NEVER see any research to back it up on this blog. I'm just too busy watching TV.
Do you think it's strange that the playoffs have expanded to five teams in each league and neither the Red Sox or Yankees are in the playoffs? Will our TVs actually stay on without those teams involved?
~Cynical Sam, Somewhere where a lot of cynical people live
Well, I guess with a name like that, I shouldn't be surprised with your cynical attitude! I do think it's borderline crazy that neither team made the playoffs, simply considering their great financial advantages. That said, teams are getting smarter and if the Yankees and Red Sox don't make smart moves, they aren't going to make the playoffs. Making Brian McCann shave his goatee? Not smart. Relying on Clay Buchholz? Not smart.
Yes, your TVs will stay on, stop it. The ratings might dip just a tad, but I think MLB will be just fine. New blood is refreshing, so just enjoy it and stop being so cynical. Maybe change your name to Positive Outlook Sam. Just a suggestion.
World Series, who you got?
Angels and Dodgers in the battle of who can talk about traffic more. I don't really love the Angels, but they offer the best combination of defense, offense and pitching of all the AL playoff teams. I'm going to contradict how I answered Angry Jerk's question and say that the Dodgers' pitching is too great to overcome. While starting pitching may be a bit overrated in the playoffs, outstanding, almost-alien starting pitching is pretty helpful in short series.
If you want to know which matchup I am rooting for: Washington and Baltimore in a battle for the heart of our Nation's Capitol. I doubt that the country would put the Capitol up for grabs in the World Series, but ratings are pretty important and it's a Congressional election year, so who knows.
As long as the World Series is geography-friendly, I'm going to be okay with it. Kansas City-St. Louis? Yes. San Francisco-Oakland? Oh, of course! Pittsburgh-Los Angeles? That would be too wacky. Where's the geography story? I'll pass, thank you!
You know what, if we can just have Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg in Game 1 of the NLCS, the entire playoffs will be cool with me. Of course, the Cardinals will probably muck it up with their brand of good playing. Or the rotations will be all wacky because of the previous series. Jack Morris, where are you?!?
Concise, very good. I'll oblige concisely: The Dodgers. They are good. The other teams are good too. The Dodgers are the most good. Or, the best, if you must.
There you have it. I am picking the Dodgers but I want the Nationals. I am fine with anything geography-friendly. I think starting pitching is both overrated and the reason why the Dodgers will win the World Series. I dislike rich punks. I think Brian McCann looks weird without his goatee. Are you questioning why you read this yet?
I'll be back on Friday with some Twins year-end POWER RANKINGS! See you then; take care!