And That Happened: Division Series

Phillies 5, Rockies 4: Wow, what a game! Colorado scores three times in the bottom of the eighth, only to have Philly do the same in the top of the ninth. The most interesting thing about this, I think, is that home field advantage, such as it was, actually hurt the Rockies, with the snow-out allowing the Phillies to throw four straight lefties at Colorado, helping neutralize their most potent bats. My buddy Matt thinks that this is unfair and that the result here cries out for a seven game divisional series. He’s probably right about that. But unlike most years recently, I tend to think that all four division series resulted in the best team winning anyway, so maybe we just save our complaints for another year.

Next up: an NLCS rematch with the Dodgers on Thursday, and two nights without baseball for the rest of us. Visit with your spouses, children and others close to you, my friends, because it will be the last time to do so until after the World Series.

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Comments

  1. Kevin S. said...

    “I tend to think that all four division series resulted in the best team winning anyway”

    If the goal of the playoffs was to have the best teams win, we wouldn’t need them – we have the regular season.  Never understood why this got everyone’s (Dodger) panties in a twist.  The entire point of the playoffs is to generate excitement, not to crown the best team.  Think about it this way: what are the main arguments for rotisserie or head-to-head fantasy baseball?

  2. Rob in CT said...

    The salary cap, or a salary cap w/o other measures, will not do what people want it to do.  More revenue sharing is fine with me.

    I’d go the other way on the DH.  Watching pitchers “hit” is annoying, because they’re pathetic and b/c the pinch hitting/substitution routine is formulaic (the standard “it’s strategic!” excuse doesn’t impress me).

    More replay, yes, but speed of the replay & decision-making needs to be addressed.

    Shorter season?  Nah.

  3. MooseinOhio said...

    Shorter season in calendar length by having 10 day-night double headers – yes. Shorter season by reducing games play – maybe but only a few (154?).

    DH is not going anywhere so talk all you want but the PA will never let it be taken away.  Plus as one who grew up an AL fan I tend to agree with Rob in that watching pitchers hit is less enjoyable than watching real hitters hit.

    I’m not really bothered by Interleague play and have enjoyed going to see the Red Sox play in Pittsburgh and Cincy gave me the excuse to go to a new ballpark I may not have gone to otherwise.

    Develop a method to reign in salaries more so we minimize the haves and have nots – all for it.  Not sure if a cap is the right answer or expanded revenue sharing/luxury tax but something needs to be down to get a more equitable salary structure.  However I think this, like the DH, will only be done when the PA decides it wants to place competitive balance over salary inflation – so don’t hold your breath.

  4. Jason said...

    Get rid of the DH?  Get rid of pitchers flailing weakly at pitches is more like it.  There’s nothing more annoying than pulling a pitcher at 87 pitches just because it’s his turn to strike out. 

    Interleague is fun, I’d prefer a set-up that rotates divisions instead of this “natural rivalry” crap that just screws up who is playing whom during any given season.  It would also eliminate the annual complaints that we Red Sox fans have to endure from Braves fans that hate 4 hour baseball games (wink, Senor Calcaterra). 
    Of course to implement my idea you’d need to re-structure the divisions to pull one of the 6 NL central teams to the 4 team AL West.  (I still cannot believe that’s how the leagues are set-up.)

  5. Drew said...

    Some random Philadelphia Sportscaster last night after the game (not an exact quote, but very close):

    “I think there can be no question now that Ryan Howard is easily the best player in baseball.  The only knock anyone could have had was that he didn’t have the big playoff hit, and now he has that, so hands down, best player in baseball.”

    I can understand homerism (though I loathe it), but man, he’s not even the best player on his own team.  It’s so hard to watch these guys.

  6. Jeff Polman said...

    Craig:

    What did you think of Tracy allowing Huston Street to face Ryan Howard in that situation with lefty Beimel rotting in his bullpen?  I like the Phils and I still think it was the stupidest decision of the year.

  7. Aaron Moreno said...

    I love the strategy argument against the DH.

    “Pinch-hit for the pitcher.”

    “Maybe double-switch.”

    That’s the entirety of what happens in MLB, unless you’re Charlie Manuel pulling Happ early. That was sweet.

  8. Kevin S. said...

    “Of course to implement my idea you’d need to re-structure the divisions to pull one of the 6 NL central teams to the 4 team AL West.  (I still cannot believe that’s how the leagues are set-up.) “

    That would require at least one inter-league series every day.  Bud needs to keep them on premium weekends to maintain the fiction that it boosts attendance (beyond the fact that teams like the Yanks, Sox, Cubs and Dodgers boost attendance wherever they go).

  9. MJ said...

    That would require at least one inter-league series every day.  Bud needs to keep them on premium weekends to maintain the fiction that it boosts attendance (beyond the fact that teams like the Yanks, Sox, Cubs and Dodgers boost attendance wherever they go).

    You could also expand to a NFL style, 32 team/8 division group, as Neyer has suggested before.  Granted no one’s talking about expansion at this point, but it’s one possibility to bring up.

    What did you think of Tracy allowing Huston Street to face Ryan Howard in that situation with lefty Beimel rotting in his bullpen?  I like the Phils and I still think it was the stupidest decision of the year.

    Per, BR, here’s this years splits vs LHB

    Street:  .167/.227/.265
    Beimel:  .258/.297/.484

    Similar sample size (111 to 104).  Street was the better choice.

  10. The Rabbit said...

    “instant replay of umpire calls like in football” and “speed up the games”- Probably mutually exclusive.
    Re instant replay: I don’t ever want to go there; however, for some reason, I don’t ever remember umpiring being as bad as it’s been this year.  I’m not referring to the strike zone where one might give the low strike and not the high one or go a hair off the black (the Greg Maddux call). As long as the zone was consistent, there wasn’t a lot of complaining. This year, some of them have created a game within the game: Guess where the strike zone is on this pitch.
    All of you know how bad some of the calls at the bags have been.
    Are they really that much worse? Is this perception or fact? Or is it just the same few umpires who just suck and just happen to be officiating the games I watch?

    “eliminate interleague play with its inherent inequities” Amen to that!

    “I’ve always liked pennants better than flags. Flags are nationalistic, imperialistic, fascistic, square, obvious and in your face. Pennants are sleek and chivalrous. They are tournaments and jousts and shining armor.”
    Agree completely. On holidays, I fly the Vulcan flag at my house.  (My brother-in-law suggested the Venusian flag but I told him everyone has one of those.)

  11. Kevin S. said...

    @MJ – If you expanded, I’d prefer two divisions of eight teams each, two wild cards.  None of this “getting into the playoffs because you went 8-8 in the NFC West” BS that we see on Sundays.

  12. Sim said...

    If anything the first round series should be shorter, not longer.  Except for the diehard fans (like those of us on this site), a long succession of NBA-style best-of-seven postseason series is just a blur.  It fails to entertain.  And as Craig pointed out, the better team won all 4 series this year anyway.  Who needs to tack on 2 extra games?

    Definitely in favor of shortening the season to 154, plus schedule some day/night doubleheaders.  We should be starting the World Series right now, rather than sitting around waiting for the LCS and then playing the WS after Halloween.  Again, for fans who aren’t hard core, baseball becomes an afterthought by this time of year, lost in all the media attention to the NFL and college football.  It’s not the right way to end the season.

  13. Greg Simons said...

    “Oh, and you can get rid of the DH over my dead body. :-D”  Choose your poison, Kevin S.  wink

    “Develop a method to reign in salaries more” in reality becomes “make the owners that much richer.”

    “I don’t ever remember umpiring being as bad as it’s been this year.”  Funny, I seem to recall hearing that every year for the past couple decades.

  14. Sim said...

    And while we’re shortening the season on the back end, let’s have it start a week or 10 days later also.  Baseball traditionally started in mid-April.  March 30 is ridiculous and just brings snow-outs.  Plus the start of the baseball season, which used to be one of the biggest sports events of the years, is now overshadowed by the NCAA tournament.

  15. MJ said...

    If you expanded, I’d prefer two divisions of eight teams each, two wild cards.  None of this “getting into the playoffs because you went 8-8 in the NFC West” BS that we see on Sundays.

    It happens like this already, see NLC when the Cards won the WS, and almost every year in the NLW.

    I agree though, I’d prefer the 2 Divisions per League, but I’d still see the Yanks/Sox toping their division every year.  At least this way it gives another team in the other division a chance at a WC.

  16. Aaron Moreno said...

    Re: the Beimel vs. Street call

    Howard’s splits:
    .207/.298/.356 vs. LHP
    .320/.395/.693 vs. RHP

    Couple that with Beimel’s previous 3-year split vs. LHB of .240/.281/.348, then Tracy made the wrong call.

    It’s called playing the percentages. It’s what good managers do to win ballgames.

  17. YankeesfanLen said...

    New York Daily News still has a “Today in Baseball” which this time of year often refers to World Series events right about now. I vividly remember several years ago Jeter named “Mr. November” and thought that strange, but thisd year it would be typical.
    My opinion is that the top four teams from any division in each league would compete-this year, NL would be the same, AL would have Rangers instead of Twins. This would, over time, add some parity, and keep some who are not so Yankees-RedSox centric (such as myself) happy that the best four teams from the regular season have something to show for their season.
    What can you fix with a 162 game season? It’s already self-correcting with days off in August and September going to make up games, or in some cases, doubleheaders. Maybe the twin bill during the summer, on Sunday, with the owners having figured out it’s separate admission, could improve attendance and allow more 4 game series, which I like. If nothing else, we could then go to 7 game Division Series (I say this for obvious reasons) and get the whole thing done by Halloween.
    Last two rants:
    Never get rid of the designated hitter
    Why did the Twins build a beautiful new ballpark…outdoors?

  18. Chris Simonds said...

    @Julian
    By flags being square, I meant square in the sense of having right angles, as carpenters are taught to get everything “plumb, true and square”. And also in the 1950’s sense of square as uncool. Can you dig it? Pennant vs flag is a system of classification for styles of action, not the actions themselves. Football is mostly flag, but it has moments of fluttering pennant-like elegance. Baseball is more pennant, though Lord knows it has its brutal flag moments. I am certain of this because I made it all up myself just this morning, as everyone should realize.

  19. APBA Guy said...

    I think we all understand two things after watching the last two Phils/Rockies games:

    1) Why Beane included Street in the package for Holliday (can we have Carlos Gonzalez back, please).
    2) Why Jim Tracy is asked to leave repeatedly.

    Street is not what you want in a closer. Nibbling, erratic command, not an overpowering fastball: that’s a bad combination, especially in a hitter’s ballpark. That Tracy left him in is baffling, but explains why Tracy has had to move on before.

  20. Richard Dansky said...

    So exactly how many times did the announcers say the words “get off the deck” during those last two innings, anyway?

  21. MJ said...

    Couple that with Beimel’s previous 3-year split vs. LHB of .240/.281/.348, then Tracy made the wrong call.

    It’s called playing the percentages. It’s what good managers do to win ballgames.

    As question as I’ve never seen it answered before, but career wise Street (.216/.299/.370) has been better against lefties than Beimel (.265/.326/.404) has.

    So do you throw the better pitcher against lefties, or the pitcher the batter has a worse time against?

  22. Will said...

    With all due respect, APBA Guy, Street nailed down 35 of 37 save opportunities this year. That’s not too shabby in my book.

  23. Zunitalks said...

    There are many, many problems in baseball, not the least of which is the shortened 5 game divison series.  Here’s my short list of problems in order of importance: (1) salary cap to produce equity between teams, (2) instant replay of umpire calls like in football, (3) shorter season, (4) eliminate interleage play with its inherent inequities, (5) eliminate the designated hitter, (6) speed up the games, (7) shattering bats that will spear someone and end their career, and (8) a 7 game divisional series.  But we have a gutless Commissioner of Baseball who will not take a stand for the game because he can’t stand the pressure from the owners.  We need another Kennesaw Mountain Landis who will straighten out the game and not be fearful of the heat he’ll get for making changes.

  24. Chris Simonds said...

    My mind really gathers wool at 7:00 am but what starts that wool gathering, in season, is usually ATH.
    a) I agree with you that the better teams won in all the LDSs this year.
    b) NLCS, ALCS – I’m old. I still call them The Pennants. Not just the pennant chase, a term still in use, but the American League Pennant and the National :League Pennant. I have met young people who stare at me blankly when I say the terms that way.
    c) I’ve always liked pennants better than flags. Flags are nationalistic, imperialistic, fascistic, square, obvious and in your face. Pennants are sleek and chivalrous. They are tournaments and jousts and shining armor.
    d) I am not from Ohio but I live in the state now and have met quite a few folks who are natives and educated in its public schools. Most are very pleased that theirs is the only state that sports a pennant rather than a state flag. It’s doubly odd because, considering its reputation as a state of slow moving practical German farmers, as the birthing room of the rust belt industries and a cradle of rapaciously materialistic businesmen (John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil did all their best work here) and remembering the brutal modern military tactics pioneered by Messrs. Grant and Sherman, Ohio could hardly be considered the home of chivalry in America. (I guess Virginia claims that honor. No wonder they didn’t squawk much when West Virgina split off. They wanted that buffer.)
    e) Two separate pennant chases, arriving at a single tournament (pennants flying) was poetic. Playoffs are modern and mathematical. Don’t get me wrong, I like ‘em. More baseball, and with local rooting interests, usually more exciting baseball. But the old way was practically designed to be remembered mythologically. As you have pointed out, all a person has to do is read a little history to find out that there never really was a golden age of baseball, just as you can read a little history and find out that those knights in shining armor weren’t really “knights in shining amor”.
    f) Shifting my wool-gathering gears, if the Dodgers meet the Angels at the end of this baseball season, can we call it the first LALA World Series? Or would that be too obvious?
    g) God do I miss baseball over the winter!

  25. George said...

    “Visit with your spouses, children and others close to you, my friends, because it will be the last time to do so until after the World Series.”

    Three-minute commercial breaks are plenty.  you can refill your beverage, race around the coffee table with the two-year old, pick up the four- month old and bounce her on your knee a bit, then hand the baby to the wife while asking her about her day.  She might still be talking during the next commercial break, when you can nod approvingly.

  26. Greg Simons said...

    @Zunitalks –
    1) Equity in concept, but in reality I think this would just make the owners much, much wealthier.
    2) Instant replay, yes, but relating this to football is unnecessary.  This is MLB, not the NFL, and baseball is so much better.
    3) Less baseball?  I’ll take all I can get.
    4) Bye-bye interleague!
    5) Sayonara, DH!
    6) Yes, but how?
    7) There are several safety issues writers such as Craig and Will Carroll have mentioned numerous times that should be addressed.
    8) Yes, all 7-game playoff series.  But I don’t think Bud has a problem dealing with pressure from the owners.  He was one of them, and has no desire to work in opposition to them.  On the other hand, I don’t think Buck Weaver would agree that a Landis-esque commissioner is the way to go.

    @Chris
    The wool makes you sound like a cross between Crash Davis and George Carlin.
    c) So, pennants are like ground balls, and flags are like strikeouts?
    f) Well, we could – if both teams actually played in LA.

    (*Jumps down from high horse.*)

    Enjoy the rest of the playoffs, everyone!

  27. Chris Simonds said...

    @Greg

    Strikeouts have a wide range of character. Papelbon is generally brutal in his strikeouts (flag). Pedro Martinez, in his heyday, could strike you out oh so elegantly (pennant). Like any system of classification, it can get complicated, and things overlap.

  28. YankeesfanLen said...

    We’re forgetting the obvious here-

    Make all ballparks conform to the exact dimensions of New Yankee Stadium- including wall heights, goofy wind patterns, etc.

    Hey, I would post this on the Blue Network but that would result in 11,654,906 responses and election to mayor of NYC, a position my legal residence precludes.

  29. Megary said...

    To extend the DH argument even further and since 9 vs 9 is a dated rule extending from a romantic but backwards time, MLB should also allow teams to set an offensive and defensive lineup.  Because let’s face it, there are many players that shouldn’t be allowed to wear a glove and many hitters aside from pitchers who should not be allowed in the batter’s box (I’m thinking of you, Pedro Feliz).  And who really wants pinch hitters and defensive switches at the end of ball games anyway?

    Oh, and let’s get rid ot the IBB as well.

    These rule changes would negate any inconvenient manager decision making that tends to foul up what would be an otherwise mechanical game.

  30. Daniel said...

    I don’t think it’s at all baffling that Tracy left Street in there.  He managed conventionally, which is what almost all managers do.  Street is the closer so he’ll go with Street, even if he doesn’t give him the best chance to win.  It’s silly, but it’s common practice.

    And yes, absolutely Tracy SHOULD have brought in Beimel.  The difference in splits between Beimel vs lefties and Street vs lefties pales in comparison to Howard’s splits.  He is awful against lefties.  It’s sad that Tracy made the wrong decision but it’s not at all surprising that he did so.

    And please no more pitchers hitting.

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