Sabermetric analysis of all things baseball - on-and-off the field. Barry Bonds fan club.
2023 Division Series Preview
It took only two of the three days of the Wild Card Series for this year's Division Series matchups to be set, as all four Wild Card Series ended in sweeps. This is the 29th edition of the League Division Series (LDS), not counting the occurrence that took place in 1981 due to a brief work stoppage. When the LDS was created in 1994, the original matchups pitted the best division winner against the league's lone Wild Card (unless they were in the same division), while the other two division winners faced each other. The LDS officially debuted in 1995 (a strike canceled the rest of the season and postseason in 1994), and stood as the opening round of the postseason until the Wild Card Game was introduced in 2012.
What Went Wrong: Marlins Outmatched by Defending Pennant Winners
The Miami Marlins were not expected to get to this point. After all, they were in a division with a team who was two years removed from winning the World Series, a team who--despite choking away the division lead--had a great regular season and was looking to get back to the postseason, and a team who won the pennant during that previous year. In addition, other teams in the National League were supposed to be in the mix, namely the San Diego Padres, who finished as the runners-up in the National League in 2022.
What Went Wrong: You Have to Play NINE Innings, Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers' 2023 season was quite an interesting one. Few people thought they'd finish atop the National League Central this year. Last year it was the St. Louis Cardinals, but even with the team falling off, it looked like it would be the Pittsburgh Pirates at first, then the Cincinnati Reds. Despite everything, the Brewers rose up and took that top spot, while the Reds and Bucs fell off big time.
What Went Wrong: Jays Grounded in Wild Card Series
We have another sequel, baseball fans. The Toronto Blue Jays entered this season coming off a disappointing end to their 2022 campaign. We know the story. Shut down in Game One, but Game Two saw the Jays up 8-1, but they ended up losing that game 10-9. When a team suffers a devastating and, at times, embarrassing playoff defeat, it is used as inspiration for a better season. However, the Blue Jays did struggle for a good bit, but they managed to get back on track by August, though the final two weeks of September left many wondering if they would miss out on the postseason party.
What Went Wrong: I Repeat, Where's the Offense, Rays?!
You know, I've been writing these "What Went Wrong" playoff elimination pieces since 2021. I started doing it for hockey, then baseball, and some select NFL teams who fail to reach the playoffs, and I am planning to do this while talking NBA. This has to be a first, however. I never thought I'd be writing a sequel, but here it is. In 2022, the Tampa Bay Rays had a strong regular season, but their postseason saw them score one run in a two-game Wild Card Series.
A Look at the 1978 New York Yankees
Nowadays, there's a stigma among fans of the New York Yankees that we don't see to know a lot about hardship. We're entitled. The team's entitled. We've never known what it's like to really struggle. The team is currently in a pennant and championship drought that has now lasted 14 seasons, but the people making these comments forget that the Yankees have struggled like this before. The Bronx Bombers won back-to-back championships in 1961 and 1962, but after that came a lot of unsuccessful seasons--14 of them, to be exact. The drought ended in 1977 when the Yankees won over the Dodgers, and it looked like the Bronx Bombers were truly back.
2023 Wild Card Series Preview
I do enjoy the MLB Postseason, especially that first day. The first day of every sport's playoffs has that different feel. The aura around it says, "It's big. It's more than just a game now." It's true, though. Every sport's playoffs has a lot more at stake, and it's not any different in baseball. I still remember when the Postseason started with the Division Series, though it's been the Wild Card round (in some form) since 2012. From 2012-2021, it was the single Wild Card Game, though the COVID-affected 2020 season gave us the Wild Card Series. It was supposed to be just for that year, but MLB decided to make the Wild Card Series permanent in 2022.
2023 Postseason Field Complete
Entering the final day of September, and the penultimate day of the regular season, five postseason slots were open. The Miami Marlins got one of them; defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates to join the October party. Even so, four spots remained. However, a funny thing happened. All of the other remaining slots? All filled, bit by bit. I thought we would see one, maybe two slots still open entering the final day, but nope. The remaining postseason slots are all filled in, with some slight positioning still left to be decided. More on that later.
Marlins Clinch on Penultimate Day
For so long, the National League's Wild Card race has been absolutely insane. It had been a logjam for the longest time, but eventually, numbers get thinned out--such is life in sports. For the most part, it had been the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins, and the Cincinnati Reds vying for those two vacant spots, though for the most part, the Marlins had been behind that magic playoff line. However, they started winning at the right time--during the Cubs' sudden inability to hold a lead.
Phillies Look to Defend Their Pennant
Red October is back for another go-around! The Philadelphia Phillies entered their meeting with the Pittsburgh Pirates needing just one win to clinch their second straight postseason appearance. They would need extras in this game, but it was a quick finish for the Phils. A walk-off RBI single giving them a 3-2 win, as well as another trip to the postseason. The Phillies' mission, now that they will be playing October baseball, is a simple one: win two more games than they did last season.
At Long Last, Brewers Clinch NL Central
I thought they'd never clinch that division! The Milwaukee Brewers' magic number had been at 2 or lower for the entire past weekend. It was down to one because the Cubs lost, but despite having two opportunities to lock up the National League Central with a win, they lost both times. The Brewers and Cubs returned to play on Tuesday, September 27, 2023, and regarding the former, they were at home against the lowly St. Louis Cardinals. As for the Cubs, they were on the road against the dangerous Atlanta Braves.
MLB Pennant Race 2023: Seven Days Left, and a Lot to Decide
Well, this is it. Down to the wire. The 2023 MLB season has just one week, seven short days, remaining. That is not a lot of time. Despite this, there is so much to be determined. So many teams are vying for a chance to participate in this year's Postseason. Unfortunately, there is one team that we all know will not be part of this postseason party, and that team is the New York Yankees.