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No “Best” In the Best-of-Five

Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays. Baseball’s version of the Final Four is set, and it probably doesn’t look much like most people would have predicted back in April. Such is the beauty of the game.

But I’m troubled by how we got here.

These four teams are the best by virtue of the fact that they’re here. It’s hard to argue with facts, and I didn’t watch the Brewers or the Angels enough in the regular season to really know what they had to offer. But I do know that baseball is cheating itself — and us — by not allowing the first round of the playoffs to run a full best-of-seven.

You can make an argument that everything about baseball lasts too long. It’s certainly a point to be made, even if I’m on the fence about it myself. But until the season itself gets shortened, there’s no logic in compressing the first playoff series and failing to give teams the chance they’ve earned.

If a team goes down 0-2 in a best-of-seven they’ve still got a decent shot. If they go down 0-2 in a best-of-five, they’re finished. Baseball is a game built on streaks and momentum, and nowhere could they be more important than the postseason. I’d like to see teams have an opportunity to stumble a bit and then come back, or to lose on the road but make it up at home. That’s part of what makes the baseball playoffs so exciting, after all. No reason to cheat us — or the teams involved — out of it.

Until then, we’ve got what we’ve got with these four. I won’t make any predictions, I’ll just say that I would really like to see a Rays-Dodgers World Series. I mean bad.

11 comments to No “Best” In the Best-of-Five

  • sci

    I agree the best-of-5 scenario is not ideal. I do understand why they did it though, of course – the baseball season is insanely long.

    I hope for LA/Tampa too. Just as long as it’s not Philly/Boston I’ll be happy. Of course Boston must lose one way or another for anything to be satisfactory.

  • dan the man

    Agreed on the best-of-5. Make it best of 7 and stop with the 3 days of rest in between series, that kills me.

    What is it about the Phillies that makes them seem boring in my head? Is it because they’re NL? Is it their boring unis? Have I just not seen what they have to offer and am thus drawing conclusions? I dunno. The Rays excite me, especially because they’re fiery (have been since ST) and because they represent what the Orioles have been trying to do for years – dethrone the Sox and Yankees by developing good starting pitching. You better believe I’m a full on Rays fan for this series.

  • df1570

    A fugitive has been away so long

    A thousand years, and now he thinks of home

    The long men are waiting in the wings

    To put him in chains upon his return

    Emptyness, his bitterness is gone

    Journey on the eternal reward

  • neal s

    Seriously, Drew. Enough.

  • Greg

    The Brewers, Angels, White Sox and Cubs all had as many games to play as the Philllies, Rays, Red Sox and Dodgers. If all 8 teams know going into the season that there will be a five-game series, and the first to three wins moves onto the LCS, then the battleground is fair. There’s no excuses that best of five is not a fair measurement compared to best of seven. Both teams understand what is on the line and the objective for all teams in the LDS is WIN THREE GAMES.

  • neal s

    Of course I can’t argue with that, Greg, as it’s a very fair point. Following the same logic, though, you could also make the first round into four “one and done” games. I wouldn’t be down for that in the same way that I’m not down for the best-of-five. I just think consistency here would benefit the game as a whole.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    I don’t see any problems with the playoff format. If I had to change anything, it would have been to some how penalize the wildcard teams, but that’s hardly sporting in a world where the Brewers won more games than the Dodgers.

    As for the notion that the Angels were better than the Red Sox or the Cubs better than the Dodgers or Brewers over Philly, I don’t buy it. I was rooting for the Cubs, but if that was the effort they had to give, then they were not the better team. But the other three winners, I have no doubt in my mind were the better teams. And I am pumped for what should be 2 very competitive LCSes.

    I got Philly and Tampa advancing. I think the Red Sox made a stupid mistake starting Lester in games 3 and 7 against Matt Garza, when they needed him in games 2 and 6 against Scott Kazmir. I don’t have a ton of faith in the Dodgers, either.

    Were we supposed to hate Philly? Since when? I didn’t get that memo. I was in the park on July 4, and I just loved the atmosphere there. The fans get a bad rap, and in fact we did get in a fight sort of, but they were into that game in a way I hadn’t seen in a long time (counting the games I’ve been to in Toronto, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Washington). And you have to like the Phanatic. Seriously.

  • neal s

    I’ll give you the Phanatic — to a point — but it’s a shame you didn’t get the “hate Philly” memo. It was issued shortly after the Phillies played here in 2005, an occasion upon which their fans showed that they were, in fact, Philly fans. It was widely distributed and endorsed by a renowned panel of civic and cultural leaders. I can only assume that you not getting it was a clerical/administrative oversight.

  • Andrew in Rochester

    That’s still okay. Tampa Bay doesn’t have any real baseball fans (neither do the Marlins…Florida just isn’t for baseball, I guess), Boston is obviously a problem for me, and the Dodgers’ fans like ManRam. I can’t support any of them based on fans.

  • Joe the Guy

    Del Carmen, Youkilis, Papelbon, Lester, Lowrie, Pedroia, Masterson, Ellsbury

    That’s 8 homegrown players seriously contributing to the team. You gotta tip your hat to that.

    @AiR – Lester was 11-1 with 2.41 in 17 starts. That’s a no-brainer. Kazmir hasn’t been very Kazmirian lately. That said, Lester’s in uncharted waters for IP.

    224 – 08 160 – 07
    128 – 06 (between AAA and Boston)
    150 – 05 (AA)

    I think a couple extra days rest plus the confines of Friendly Fenway makes it a pretty smart move.

    Dice was 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA on the road in 08. Beckett is Beckett.

    Sox-Dodgers is already written in the stars (plus it’s the same $ theory as Celtics-Lakers “setup” conspiracy theories, it’s clear which matchup would be in everyone’s best interest)

  • Joe the Guy

    *forgot to mention that the lester stats thrown @ AiR were specifically AT fenway in 2008