The MLB Playoffs, 2010
UPDATE: One slight error I made was saying the Brewers didn't make the playoffs. I really meant, during the 1991-2005 stretch the Braves went regularly. The Brewers made it in 2008, and lost to the Phillies.
ALSO: I've made a lot out of the Braves facing all those different teams over the years (they've also played many teams multiple times). But the Yankees have also been to the playoffs enough now that they've faced everyone in the AL except the Royals, Rays, and Blue Jays. And while the Braves have faced 4 different AL teams in the World Series, the Yankees have faced off against 6 NL teams.
I know this time of year, people are absolutely immersed in football nowadays, and when your team muffs a kickoff in the last two minutes of the game to seal a victory for a team they had been beating all day, well, that's understandable.
Two of our bloggers have teams in this year's playoffs. Mike's Reds and my Braves, luckily not playing each other in the first round. There are many stories that can come out of these playoffs and I'd like to discuss them here.
First off, I've mentioned it before, but the Braves have played every franchise in the National League since 1991 in the playoffs at least once except for the teams that haven't made it: the Brewers and the Expos/Nationals. This series against the Giants will be the second time the two have faced off, and it's the second DS. The last one was in 2002 when Dusty Baker managed San Francisco and took that team to the World Series. It went five games.
Speaking of Baker, he has the chance to play his old team in the NLCS should the Reds and Giants advance. It's funny, I've never considered Baker a great manager. He's made some huge blunders in the postseason that stick out, especially that 2003 NLCS when he was with the Cubs, but he's now taken three teams into the playoffs and he was within an eyelash of winning the World Series in 2002.
Back to the Giants. This team hasn't won a World Series since 1954, and the team was in New York. They've been in San Francisco since 1957. So they're the team with the longest World Series drought:
The Tampa Bay Rays have been to a Series but they haven't been in existence long enough to qualify for drought status.
The Rangers have the second longest drought, and they've never been the World Series as this team or as the (2nd) Washington Senators. This dates back to 1961. They've been in Texas since 1971.
It'd be fun if the two old Washington Senators franchises faced off the the ALCS: the Twins and Rangers can both claim Washington D.C. as their original home. The Twins last won in 1991.
And of course the Yankees won last year. Screw the Yankees.
In the NL, the Reds haven't won since 1990.
And the Phillies beat the Rays in 2008. Screw the Phillies.
There's only one true rematch on the board and that's Phillies/Yankees from last year (the franchises also played in 1950). Teams tend to change a lot over the years, so the closest to being an honest rematch after that is Phillies/Rays. But it's always fun to look at what possible historical rematches exist:
Braves/Yankees (Braves as Milwaukee in 1957 and 1958, then Atlanta in 1996, 1999)
Reds/Yankees (1939, 1961, 1976)
Giants/Twins (as Senators) (1924, 1933)
Giants/Yankees (and a fun reunion between old NY franchises) (1921. 1922, 1923, 1936, 1937, and then Giants as San Francisco in 1962)
By the way, when's the last time you saw two teams (Braves, Rays) in the playoffs who had no-hitters/perfect games pitched against them in the regular season?
Here's what I hope:
I'd like to see the Braves win it all, sure. But what I'd like to see is a World Series that lasts 7 games. We haven't had one since 2002. But even if a Series goes 7 it doesn't mean it's a good one. You've got to think 1986, 1991, 2001. Games that were competitive throughout. Even last year's Series between powerful teams like the Phillies and Yankees only went 6 and not much of it was compelling.
Here's what I think will happen:
My instinct says the LCS will be Yankees/Rays and Giants/Phillies. And I don't see anybody beating the Phillies when they have that kind of offense, bench, and starting pitching (Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels). It looks like a Phillies rematch with either the Yankees or Rays and both of those teams look like fodder. Guys, I hate the Phillies as much as one man can hate them, but those guys are awfully good. Scary good. Which is why the Reds must pull off an amazing upset and end the madness. They have the offense to do it. But jeez, the pitchers will have to be on their game.
From a Braves Fan:
What a nice surprise that this team ends up in the playoffs in Bobby Cox's final year. But man, did these guys look tired and hurt by the end of the year. It's amazing they're in after all that has happened. They lost two huge bats (Martin Prado and Chipper Jones, and I'll even include Troy Glaus as a third, who couldn't miss pitches in May and then suddenly became very bad afterwards), and it caused a domino effect in the lineup where the bench guys, who are good as bench guys, had to start every day.
But this frustrating September was marked by the feeble at-bats many batters had. Seriously, I could be drunk for the next ten days in a row (barring alcohol poisoning) for the number of shots I could have taken watching weak grounders/and or fly outs. Those fly outs weren't even close to the warning track. Sometimes you say, well, he flew out, but he hit it hard and maybe he'll get them next time. Give you some hope. But when you see those weak, outfielder-didn't-even-move kind of flies, it's demoralizing. And watching Alex Gonzalez swing the bat is brutal. He truly is all-or-nothing. Which means pitchers can throw slider after slider without repercussion.
What works out in favor for the Braves is they get three days off before they have to play again. Maybe those muscles will restore somewhat to health. Seriously, they didn't look like they had anything left, and the eight runs they scored yesterday were a miracle of sheer will.
Anyway, I'm going to love watching the games this year. It'll be fun in lieu of the mediocrity that is the Titans.