Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez suffered through an 0-fer day against Baltimore in the Red Sox’ 9-6 loss in 17 innings. The first baseman struck out in the 17th representing the tying run against the Orioles’ Chris Davis, who
began the day simply as the DH and ended it with a win. Gonzalez was the first AL cleanup hitter to go 0-8 since Andre Thornton of the Indians in 1984.
A couple of nights ago, I enjoyed the greatest night of my baseball life. Four teams fighting for a playoff berth in four different games, and three of them went into extra innings. Can it get it better than that? Well, if you listen to MLB, it can. But I disagree.
It appears that MLB is determined — for whatever reason — to add a couple of playoff teams, create perpetual interleague play and in so doing, make the DH rule universal.
I understand that the additional playoff teams generate more revenue. But if that is all we’re about here, let’s just have a 30-team postseason tournament in September and October to determine the champion. The team with the best record in each league gets a bye in the first round, and let’s play five rounds of seven-game series.
Of course, that sounds absurd — at least I hope it does to everyone — but where do we draw the compromise between increasing postseason revenue and maintaining the integrity of a true champion?
I submit that we have that compromise now. If anything, we’re too far on the lost integrity side, but maybe that’s just me. I just happen to believe that the truest measure of the best baseball team in any given year is over 162 games, not over 19 postseason games with days off in between.
Am I suggesting that we go back to the days of no divisions and have the two league champions meet in the World Series? No I’m not. While I do believe that is the truest measure of a champion, I understand the drama and suspense of elimination games.
But think about what opening up 2011 to an extra playoff team in each league would have taken from the game? There would not have been the incredible drama Wednesday night. The Yankees and Phillies had already clinched home field advantage. The Rangers, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Rangers had all clinched division titles. And the Red Sox, Rays, Braves and Cardinals would have clinched wild card berths.
You may argue that the drama we witnessed on Wednesday would have remained, but moved to a later night featuring wild card games. Perhaps, but playing to get into the playoffs offers a little more drama than merely playing to advance. And what about the Orioles and Astros? Those teams and their fans were able to witness relevant games for those teams for the first time in months. And while the Houston fans weren’t treated to much drama, Camden Yards was as vibrant as ever Wednesday night. Please don’t take those opportunities away.
No matter how hard executives and networks and websites try, sports just can’t be scripted. You can’t manufacture drama. Whether it’s just two postseason teams or 16, the drama will happen on the field as played out by individuals. Some seasons play out with three or four fantastic divisional races going down to the wire. Some years don’t. This season was one of those where the dramatic line was drawn between the fourth- and fifth-best teams in each league. Next year will be different. But it is never predictable where that line will be drawn.
So please, MLB, don’t mess with the existing playoff structure.
Trading prospects for rental players is playing Trade Deadline Roulette
by Charlie Miller
As soon as the dust settled at the All-Star Game, the chatter around the majors turned to trade talk. Who are the buyers and sellers? Fans want to know. This season, with so many close races, the buyers may outnumber the sellers, raising the prices for prized rental players.
But fans should beware, not all trades made for the stretch run work out. And fans of sellers, beware, not all “can’t miss” prospects make it.
Here’s a sampling of history that should put any deadline deals in perspective.
The question posed recently whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. Even two guys sitting in a bar can figure that out, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Baltimore Orioles Mt. Rushmore
Born as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, the franchise moved to St. Louis as the Browns in 1902 and has been in Baltimore since 1954. The successful portion has been in Baltimore. Over 52 seasons in St. Louis, there were only 12 winning seasons and eight painful 100-loss years.
I suspect there may be as little debate over these selections as any team.
It could be argued that Ripken may even be on the MLB Mt. Rushmore. Not so much for his performance — although his numbers are Hall of Fame worthy — but for what he meant to the game at a time baseball needed something spectacular. After the debacle of wiping out the 1994 postseason, Ripken captivated fans all over with his tendency to show up and play every day.
I can’t imagine a third baseman winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards. While that may not be an acceptable way to measure defensive greatness, it does mean some measure of respect among peers. He could also hit. Brooks finished in the top 3 in MVP voting four times, winning the award in 1964.
Many women may remember Palmer for his famous Jockey underwear ads, but he was the definition of ace. He won 20 games for the Orioles in eight of nine seasons, missing only an injury-marred 1974 season. He tossed a shutout in the World Series as a 20-year-old facing Sandy Koufax in 1966, and went on to win World Series games in the next two decades.
He was quiet and steady. For five consecutive seasons from 1981-85, Murray finished in the top 5 for the MVP award, but never winning it. Only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Murray can claim 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 1,900 RBIs.
There really is little argument here. Frank Robinson is a name that will come up immediately. He won an MVP, triple crown and was part of four pennants and two World Series champions. But his time and production in Baltimore just don’t measure up to the others.
Earl Weaver deserves mention, for sure. He led the O’s to six division titles, four pennants, two World Series championships and won 100 games on five occasions.
The best the St. Louis era could offer was George Sisler. Gorgeous George hit .344 and racked up 2,295 hits in 1,647 games that spanned 12 seasons with the Browns.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com