The National League is in disarray with the San Diego Padres hosting the Philadelphia Phillies as the Championship Series begins. The shocking upsets of the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers has left MLB Network stunned. What they like to call the super teams are gone, finished, kaput. You would have thought that upsets never happen in baseball with all the excuses that the network gave for the surprising results. Too long of a break, one team coasted too long, another team had to work too hard to get the bye, you can’t let the air out of the season and then recharge. Batters have a routine that really gets disrupted when they have a break. They went on and on practically giving no credit to the Phillies and the Padres. Just give the ring to the Astros, who for the moment, are the only “super team” in the semifinals. There have been upsets in the baseball post season for 70 years. The Tigers in 68, Miracle Mets 69 and the Pirates in 71 and 79, just to name a few. This is nothing unique because of more teams being in the post season. A series is a series is a series and you had better be ready to play. Major League Baseball was fortunate that this did not happen in the 16 team tournament of 2020. Enough of the media bemoaning the past, let’s look at what we have in store for the next 7 days.
The elimination game for the division series between the Yankees and Guardians is this afternoon. My feeling is the Yankees will prevail and MLB Network will at least feel half good, because they will get their wish on the American League side of the playoffs. I would like to see Cleveland win but there are two things that bother me. The pitching has not been near as dominate as it was in the wild card series. The second thing is, after their dramatic win in game 3, it just felt like the Guardians were talking and feeling like they had already won the series. There was not one comment by the players and their manager of putting things into perspective. Things like, hey this was a great win, but we still have to get that third win and the Yankees are not going to lay down and just let us take this thing. I don’t even know if I would call this over confidence, but more of a feeling of accomplishment and contentment, when in reality nothing was accomplished except to go ahead 2 games to 1 in a 5 game series. We will see if the Guardians can refocus this afternoon and pull out the third shocker of the playoffs. It will allow MLB Network to come up with a ton of excuses for the Yankees.
On the National League side, the 5th and 6th seeds are playing to see who will go the World Series. The Phillies look red hot and have been the most impressive of the two teams. Being on a roll can vanish in a heartbeat. The Padres have had some gritty wins and Josh Hader has seemed to have returned to form. The Padres have had players, that had a mediocre regular season, all of a sudden come alive with the bats, to contribute heavily to the playoff wins, in both series. These teams have not met since the end of June when the Phillies took 3 out of 4 in San Diego. The fact that 4 of the 7 games are in San Diego I do not look at as a big advantage for the Padres. This team plays better on the road and showed it in the wild card round. I think one of the big keys to this series is whether Bryce Harper will stay hot, and will San Diego allow him to beat them. I think this will be one of the most entertaining 7 game series we have seen in a long time, and I do think it will go the distance. I just give the slight edge to the Padres because of all the big names they have and how well they seem to be fielding right now. As we have seen so far, nothing will be surprising in this post season.