Saturday, October 28, 2006

. . . but it isn't

Well, the Tigers forgot the eighth inning rally in Game Five and lost the Series in five games to the Cardinals after all. Neither the worst nor the best Series ever played. A few observations:

1. The Cardinals victory was perhaps less of suprise than it seemed. They had vastly more playoff experience and it showed: in the Tigers lack of hitting, their defensive errors, the tightness they demonstrated throughout the Series. Like the Steelers before them, the Cards failed more than once to win it when they were the best team, then won it when they most probably weren't. A little less pressure works wonders.

2. The Series, and the whole playoffs, were an interesting turnaround on the regular season. The American League dominated the National as much this season as I can remember--there must have been eight AL teams that were better than the weakest entries in the NL playoffs, and maybe some of the stronger ones. But the National League won the Series in five games, and the NL playoffs were far more interesting, everyone essentially collapsing to the Tigers in the junior circuit. Go figure.

3. Although the MLB more or less got away with it this time, playing baseball at night at the end of October is a disaster waiting to happen. You can't tell me that three throwing errors by major league pitchers, or a good center fielder slipping under a fly ball, don't have something to do with playing in 30 degree weather night after night. The need to avoid postponements, because one knows it will be even worse tomorrow, only compounds matters. Baseball needs to choose between a shorter playoff or a neutral site, or the playoffs will continue to be an endurance contest rather than a test of quality in any meaningful sense.

Speaking of endurance, I still think the enduring moment of these playoffs will be Endy Chavez' catch off Scott Rolen in Game 7 of the Mets-Cardinals series, what turned out to be the real World Series this year. If the Mets had won, it would be up there with Mookie Wilson. As it is, they'll be talking about it in 25 years.


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