The matchups in the championship series, which begins on Sunday with the Texas Rangers at the Houston Astros in the ALCS, do not quite meet MLB’s expectations.
Three teams with more than 100 wins – the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles – are all quickly eliminated, leaving baseball with the All-Texas matchup in the ALCS and an NLCS series in which a rebuilding The Arizona Diamondbacks team with no known names faces off against the star-studded Philadelphia Phillies.
A possible repeat of an Astros-Phillies World Series would likely be greeted with yawns. Last year’s matchup was the second-worst scoring World Series in history.
But who knows? It could be some compelling baseball, something that has been missing in the postseason in the first two rounds thanks to all the blowouts and sweeps.
Here are five takeaways from the postseason.
1. Obviously the playoff format will be called into question with three of the top four seeds that had byes gone.
The long wait for the first postseason series is essentially like an All-Star break, and since baseball is a sport that relies on the 162-day cycle, any change in routine can be dangerous.
Still, the Orioles proved they weren’t ready for prime time, the Dodgers left three starters who seemed clueless, and the Braves couldn’t break through. The blame should lie with them, not the format.
The only solution is to convert the wild card series from best-of-three to a do-or-die series, thereby reducing the rest period for the top seeds. But that would lead to a loss in TV revenue. So don’t expect MLB to do anything that could impact the golden goose.
2. If you’re a Chicago White Sox fan, you may have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder while watching Wednesday’s Dodgers game.
It happened during the third inning of Game 3 of the NLDS. Dodgers starter Lance Lynn hit four home runs in one inning against the Diamondbacks, an unprecedented feat in postseason history.
Lynn led the major leagues with 44 home runs on the season, including 28 in 21 starts for the White Sox. He most recently allowed four home runs in a July 21 game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, although he at least spread them over two innings.
In September, Lynn told a reporter, “I mean, who makes a (beep) when you’re over 30 (homers)?”
As we found out in Chicago when the Sox went south, Lynn isn’t inclined to take responsibility for his team’s demise. He was one of the leaders of a bad clubhouse cultureand the Sox were motivated to find someone to take him off their hands. Luckily, the Dodgers were willing to take a risk, which didn’t work.
It will be interesting to see which organization signs him for more of the same in 2024.
3. Bryce Harper can be an unpleasant guy, especially to opposing players.
After Harper was doubled from first base to end Game 2 of the NL Division Series, Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia yelled in the postgame clubhouse, “Ha, ha, Attaboy, Harper.”
Some reporters mentioned it in their reporting, one named Arcia as the culprit. After Harper hit two home runs in Game 3, he stared Arcia down as he rounded the bases. Arcia said afterward that Harper “wasn’t supposed to hear it, that’s why we said it in the clubhouse.”
That led MLB Network’s Alanna Rizzo to criticize one of the High Heat reporters for using the comment, calling him a “jackoff” that didn’t deserve a pass and calling the clubhouse a “sacred space.”
The Baseball Writers Association of America issued a statement He said the reporter was credentialed and “to suggest otherwise in vulgar terms is both unprofessional and unacceptable.” The statement continued: “The BBWAA is deeply disturbed that the league’s network has supported the disparagement of one of ours.” would allow members in this way. It comes with the territory to question our work, but comments like these should have no place on MLBN.”
After an outcry from the media, Rizzo finally apologized to the reporter for her reaction.
Will MLB punish someone it employs on its television network? Do I have to ask?
4. Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy have faced each other many times and the duel between two future Hall of Fame managerial figures is highlighted on ALCS telecasts.
Bochy has three World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants, but what I remember most is the 1998 World Series between his San Diego Padres and the New York Yankees. Bochy was hit hard for his decisions and took them with dignity.
“It goes with the territory,” Bochy said at the time. “I would like to be in this situation all year or every year and let people shoot at me. We’re in the World Series, and when you play in a series like that, every play is scrutinized, and that’s okay.
“People are watching. This shows that people are interested, especially here in San Diego. And I just have to stick with what I believe in and what my gut feeling tells me. Use my instincts. Sometimes it works. Sometimes that’s not the case.”
It mostly worked. Bochy’s 49 postseason wins as a manager rank fifth on his career list, and he has a .598 winning percentage in his nine playoff appearances.
5. Joe Maddon once called Nick Castellanos and his family a “reality show in the making.”
“People would see it.” Maddon said as Castellanos was on fire for the Cubs after being traded in 2019.
Now it’s happening in Philadelphia, where Castellanos is the first player with two home runs in consecutive postseason games. TBS often shows his son Liam partying hard in his box seat.
Why didn’t the Cubs re-sign Castellanos, who loved Chicago and wanted to return after the 2019 season?
It’s one of those things that can never really be explained.