Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Intriguing Direction This Playoff Season Could Be Headed


Last night, the New York Yankees won Game 5 of the ALDS and advanced to a championship series, while the Philadelphia Phillies won the first game of the NLCS. And I am still immensely weirded out by it.

I don't have two MLB allegiances for this outcome specifically. As I've said, I'm a Yankee fan because I come from a long line of Yankee fans, and I'm a Philly fan because I live right outside of Philadelphia. I just assume that one is gonna do well and the other won't, and for the last 10 or so years the Yankees have done pretty well while the Phillies have been poopoo. Going into this fall, I just assumed the Yankees would do their usual 'lose a crucial playoff series' schtick and the Phils would squander the golden opportunity handed to them, but the latter didn't happen and the former probably won't happen til the weekend. 

And so here we are. We have reached the championship series stage of the playoffs, and the Yankees and Phillies are still on the board. This has not happened since 2010. I shouldn't have to remind you all how well it went in 2010, but we had a Giants-Rangers World Series that year that, let's be clear, was still really good, but...y'know...coulda been better. And then before that it hadn't happened since 2009, which was a monumental World Series that had a full emotional arc, heroes and villains, and an amazing finish. I went to Game 2 of that World Series, and my god was it incredible. 

Now...a lot has to happen for us to get back there. And by that, I mean the Yankees have to actually beat the Astros in a playoff series. may sound like a hyperbole, but it literally has never happened before. Three times in the past 8 seasons, the Yankees have needed to play the Astros in order to advance or to make a World Series. It has never happened. It didn't happen in 2015, it didn't happen in 2017, and it didn't happen in 2019. And I am firm in my belief that if the Yankees had gotten to a World Series in 2019, those Nats wouldn't have stood a chance. No matter the means, the Astros have always just been better than us in playoff competition. Sometimes they are, in fact, using illegal means, and sometimes they are still excellent as a result of those illegal means. And the thing is, that 2017 ALCS was close, and had the Astros not been cheating, we would be looking at a completely different narrative.

The trick with this Astros team will be stopping that rascal Yordan Alvarez. I am sick of nobody getting hits, and then him suddenly hitting a home run. If you were gonna do that the whole time, why didn't you do that to begin with? Infuriating man. The other object involves making sure that this simpler rotation has its cracks, and that Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers can be exploited. Honestly, though, the Yankees just need to get hits off these guys. There's a rumor Benintendi might be back today, that'd be a welcome presence. I think we're also gonna call up somebody like Florial for outfield help. Lord knows we need it if Hicks is done. 

The bottom line is that some of the Yankees' mistakes made it closer than it needed to be in Cleveland. And if we're having trouble against Cleveland, we need to make sure those problems don't fester in this Houston series. Because as much as people don't want the Yankees to advance, they also reeeeeally don't want the Astros to advance. The Yankees might, in fact, be baseball's last hope of a non-boring series.

...I mean, I say that, but at the same time, look at this Phils-Padres NLCS! Isn't this fun? Look, Machado and Harper are trading hits, this is great! 

Obviously I'd love it if the Phillies won, and after last night, we're looking really good. How the hell do we hold a team like the Padres to only a couple hits? Most of the hits/extra bases were caused by infield errors. Zack Wheeler legitimately kept down one of the toughest offenses in the game, and got nothing out of Soto, Machado or Bell. I am in AWE. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it very nearly did when Alvarado was on, but...we're up 1 on the Padres. 

I mean, at the same time, the Dodgers were up 1 on the Padres too, but...not IN San Diego. 

There's two more games today, including the first taste of what this damned Yanks-Astros series is gonna look like. I sincerely hope it looks different than all the other ones.

Also, since I've been eulogizing the fallen this year,

The Cleveland Guardians outdid my, and everyone else's, expectations. I thought they were headed for last this year. They lapped the White Sox and Twins and came alive in September, driving opposing teams away with their excellent contact ball, and laying waste to a decent Rays team through 15 innings. So many fun contact guys I wanna see more of. I wanna see if Gabriel Arias is the answer at 1st going forward, or if Will Brennan and Tyler Freeman have legs as members of this team. It's gonna be cool to see how this squad develops, for sure.

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