MLB and Rob Manfred don’t really have to care what happens in the wildcard round. Their only aim was to provide more playoff baseball, good or not, because its mere existence netted them more TV cash. So the fact that MLB will get no Game 3s, no interesting storylines, and barely any drama, following the inaugural season of this expanded crap not being much better, doesn’t really matter. The billionaires will still get the checks.
But man, this was two days of nothing. Almost seems pointless. Let’s run through it.
Don’t let Tampa in again
The Tampa Bay Rays should be banned from the postseason. They don’t do anything when they’re here, and no one seems to care that they are. While there were a few out there trying to make excuses for the laughably low crowds at The Trop, this is playoff baseball! Twins fans didn’t seem to care that their two playoff games were during work hours. Who isn’t looking for an excuse to ditch out on work and go get drunk? I know I am!
This isn’t even an indictment of Rays fans, who have now spent a quarter century going through some combination of watching every good player they have eventually having to leave in order to be paid more than store credit, the Rays constant search for a new park wherever they could get anyone else to pay for it, and laments about how hard it is to get to the park in the first place and constant denigration of the experience once anyone gets there.
Nothing about the Rays has ever really made it seem like something anyone should make a lifetime commitment to. Sure, success on the field is supposed to drive that, but success always seems fleeting for the Rays when we know they’ll shed their skin every few years. And it’s not as if Tampa can’t get behind a team, because it’s become one of the best hockey towns in the NHL.
Which makes it weird that the Rays are going to build their new park down the street from the current one, given how much bellyaching they’ve done about it. But as it will be the “ballpark village” that every owner gets their one organic erection per year over, it doesn’t really matter how many people actually attend the games.
And if they don’t come to the games, then Stuart Sternberg will have another excuse to not actually spend on the team, and this all will continue. So who needs it? Let’s leave the Rays behind. No one will mind.
Not even the Jays can win the game with no runs
We know what the phone lines of Toronto sports stations (is that even a thing anymore? Do the Jays have their own YouTuber drinking his own piss while screaming about George Bell like other teams in The Six have?) are going to be filled with. Probably important to go through these numbers then:
2nd Half season stats
Jose Berrios – 3.86 ERA, 4.06 FIP
Yusei Kikuchi – 3.39 ERA, 2.81 FIP
Kikuchi had been the better pitcher heading into the playoffs. John Schneider had the Twins loaded up with lefties to face Berrios and thought he might catch them cold in a game he had to win. It looks bad now because Schneider had to watch Kikuchi not come through. The logic, however, was sound. Berrios had also spent all of this season getting turned to a chardog the third time through the lineup. So how much more would the Jays really have gotten out of Berrios? Another inning? Maybe two?
None of this matters because the Jays didn’t score. Hard to win a baseball game with no runs. The Jays, adding to their Padres East act, were helpless in big situations and with runners in scoring position. And when they couldn’t bat them in, they were busy getting picked off the bases to not even give their hitters a chance to groundout.
So the Twins have actually advanced, giving up one run in two games to do so. They’ll have Joe Ryan ready for Game 1 against the Astros with Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray ready to circle back for Games 2 and 3. Not bad.
Milwaukee’s losing may have only just begun
Speaking of not being able to hit, that’s also why the Brewers are going home. More to the point, the Diamondbacks’ best players were their best players. Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte, and Christian Walker all had big hits over two games. And the Brewers…wait, who are the Brewers best players anyway? Christian Yelich? And then what? When Mark Canha and Carlos Santana comprise the middle of your lineup, you should be on the first train home.
The Brewers may have lost more than this round. They may have also heard their window slam shut. Both Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are heading into their last year of team control and you’ll see Satan due a triple toe-loop before they pay them both. They may not pay either, and both could be Dodgers by Thanksgiving. For the Brewers to remain near the top of the NL Central that no one ever seems to want to win, they’ll need a host of young players to take bigger steps than they did this season. And for the Reds to not spend a dime on pitching. And for the Cubs to continue to galavant around the middle. And the Cardinals to continue going in reverse. Lots of ifs.
Oh, and then there were the Marlins and Phils
Apparently the Marlins and Phillies played, too. The Marlins had both their top pitchers hurt, and proceeded to get their ass rubbed in the moonshine for two games because they don’t hit at all and the Phillies do, especially in October. It’ll make for a Fightins-Atlanta rematch, and Atlanta also has some injury problems in their rotation. Just like they did last year when the Phillies clubbed them back in Citizens Bank Park.
Should be a good time.
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