One day without baseball was enough, wasn’t it? I think so. The National League Wild Card Game will take place tonight with first pitch at 8:07 EST on TBS. I’m personally very excited about this one and am firmly on team Nationals. The prospect of Ryu, Kershaw, and Buehler lining up against Corbin, Strasburg, and Scherzer is just too good to pass up. Obviously, that means that the Brew Crew will win now. Sorry, Nats fans.
As expected, there wasn’t that much out there by way of Yankee news today. In Yankee adjacent news, the Angels fired Josh Paul, who was a part of the Yankee organization from 2008-2017. As for current Yankees, Brian Cashman was open about this when he joined the YES crew in the booth on Sunday. There’s no point in disclosing any information earlier than they’re required to for strategic reasons, and it’s tough to disagree. Even if the strategic gains are minimal, you take what you can get. I expect we won’t hear much about health, rotation lineups, or anything interesting until 10 am on Friday. Same as it ever was.
MLB did release its annual postseason promotional video, and I am here to tell you that the video rules. Check it out here:
Anyway, to the roundup!
CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner’s Friendship
George King III has a great piece in today’s Post about the unlikely friendship that’s developed between CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner. It’s exactly the heartwarming read that you’d expect it to be given the two subjects, and it’s a stark reminder to enjoy the Yankees as they enter their October run. It is the end of CC’s run in pinstripes (until he dons a Yankee cap in Cooperstown) and may even be the end of Gardner’s tenure, too. I doubt that last part, but it’s possible.
Anyway, I am a sucker for behind-the-scenes stories like this, so check it out. My favorite part came as King asked the two of them what would happen if they faced each other in a game–something that’s never happened. Here’s what Gardner said:
“I would try to bunt and piss him off. He would probably hit me and I would go to first base,’’ Gardner said with a straight face.
Check the whole thing out. It’s worth it.
Back in June, the Yankees hired Sam Briend away from Driveline Baseball to be their new Director of Pitching. I covered that here, and Briend has already has an impact with some fairly significant changes in the Yankees’ MiLB affiliates. Well, his former boss Kyle Boddy was just hired by the Reds, with an interesting caveat:
That’s…interesting. Not that they’d be interested in Boddy–a number of teams were–but that he’s allowed to stay in charge of Driveline, which consults with a number of players and teams. You’d think there’d be a conflict of interest there, and one that benefits the Reds. Boddy will have inside info on players not in his organization. Huh. Who knows. Just something I found interesting.
NL Wild Card Preview
Now, as you’d expect, there’s a ton of coverage out there about tonight’s Wild Card Game. I’m a stats nerd at heart, though, so I’d especially recommend Dan Szymborski’s preview of the matchups over at FanGraphs. You can read it here. Interesting stuff. The electric Max Scherzer will be taking on Brandon Woodruff. Mad Max is must watch stuff in my opinion. Ah, what could have been. If only the Yankees ponied up the cash when they had the chance.
Anyway, like I mentioned before, I’m firmly on Team Nats. One interesting question: if the Nats win today, does that mean they’ve finally won a postseason series? The answer, of course, is no. They will not have. They’ll have won a postseason round, sure. They will not have won a series. They’ll have to win tonight and then defeat Los Angeles next week for that to count. Seems obvious.
FiveThirtyEight had a really interesting feature today about the likelihood that we see a World Series rematch. I find the “odds” as calculated to be a bit lacking and also completely devoid of all fun despite my analytical bent, but it was a really great survey of the recent historical context in which a lot of these teams are operating. Check it out, though bear in mind it’s limited to “relatively recent history) Here’s the relevant Yankee rematches, some of which you undoubtedly knew without me telling you:
- Yankees-Dodgers, 14 percent: Rematch of 1977, 1978, and 1981 (plus a bunch of others). This is easily the most historic of all options.
- Yankees-Braves, 6 percent: Rematch of 1996 and 1999. Those were two great World Series, would watch again.
- Yankees-Cardinals, 5 percent: Rematch of 1964, which was an all-time classic. If they meet this time, may it be a better outcome.
- Yankees-Brewers, 1 percent: Rematch of the 1981 ALDS, which, hey. It’s a rematch!
MLB Postseason Schedule
Will Leitch at the New Yorker had a piece in which he discusses how, each and every year, media analysts make fun of baseball for drawing low ratings during the playoffs. He analyzes why–the late start times–and also explains that, due to the daily nature of baseball, there aren’t many options. I thought it was a much more nuanced analysis and thought experiment than the headline or promotion on Twitter made it seem, but hey. Doesn’t matter what I think, really. Check it out for yourself here.
It’s certainly true that baseball appeals to the die-hards, but I think that’s true of the sport overall. Baseball isn’t football; it is a regional sport with deep local allegiances. The playoffs won’t change that and that’s a-ok with me. Baseball rules.
One thing, though: Leitch wonders when else the World Series could be played if not at night. I’d love to see some weekend daytime matchups myself. I don’t care about trying to fight against Texas-Texas Tech’s dumb college football game. It’s the World Series, and I think it would be cool to pay homage to the game’s history by having some games end before midnight. Not that it matters to me; I’ll be up regardless, and if it’s the Yankees, I’ll probably be too amped either way to sleep after the game anyway. I’m one of the die-hards. I bet you are too.
Here’s a stat for you:
Woof! That’s bad. The American League East was the only division in the AL that had 3 teams over .500, which feels insane (the NL Central and East both did as well, to be fair) but seems to be the state of the game these days, but I already ranted about that last night.
But it’s interesting. So many of the playoff teams are juggernauts, but when you play 57 games against the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers, it can be hard to evaluate a team. At least to me. Not that it means anything going forward for the next 5 games, of course. It’s just…something. I just think tanking is a horrible problem–4 teams won 100 games, sure, but 4 teams also lost more than 100. Seems bad.
I can’t even believe I am typing this right now, but ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser has a good idea! Here it is:
This will never happen, of course, and it’s embarrassing that the league needs to incentivize winning even further, but hey. It could work. But enough kvetching from me. There’s baseball to watch tonight. Let’s all enjoy it, okay? I know I will.