Tag: washington nationals

Washington Nationals Series Preview: May 7 to 9

Embed from Getty Images

The Yankees are riding high off an emotional series win against the Trashtros and let’s hope to avoid a letdown against the Nationals this weekend. Overall, the Yankees are currently 4th in the AL East with a 16-15 record, though they are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have the best record in MLB since their 5-10 start.

Continuing the theme of the Trashtros for a moment, the Nationals are the true heroes of MLB for beating Houston in the 2019 World Series right before the cheating scandal broke. If you’re attending games this weekend, let’s cheer the Nats for that herculean effort and then hope the Yankees continue their recent play and sweep them.

Their Story So Far

The Nationals have continued their struggles since winning the 2019 World Series and sit in last place in the NL East with a 12-15 record and a -22 run differential. They are 5-5 in their last 10 and are currently riding a 3 game losing streak. Let’s extend to 6 games, shall we? Offense has been the team’s big culprit so far as they have only scored 93 runs this year. Along with the Mets, they are the only two NL teams with under 100 runs scored. Even the lowly Pirates have scored 106 runs in the early going. They rank 21st with a team wRC+ of 90 and 18th with a team wOBA of .306. For context, despite their offensive struggles, the Yankees have a team wRC+ of 105 and a wOBA of .315.

On the pitching side of things, they rank 17th with a 4.21 ERA with 4.84 FIP and 4.58 xFIP. Put that together with the offense, and you get a middling last place team that has severely underperformed expectations to the point that once again, the question everyone is asking about the team is if they’ll trade Max Scherzer at the deadline.

Injury Report

PlayerInjuryStatusExpected Return
Stephen StrasburgShoulder10-Day ILLate May
Wander SueroOblique10-Day ILAfter this series
Juan SotoShoulderActivatedBack!
Luis AvilanElbow60-Day ILOut for season

Spotlight: Juan Soto

Who else would it be? My preseason MVP pick recently returned after a shoulder injury, though he has only pinch hit thus far. He’s off to a slow start this year by his standards, slashing .283/.391/.434 (121 wRC+) though he is coming off an absurd 2020 where he hit .351/.490/.695 (201! wRC+).

Much was made of the following piece from Mike Petriello at MLB.com in which he compared Juan Soto to a young Ted Williams. The basic gist of that article and another by Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs is that the only other players in MLB history who produced at Soto’s level at such a young age are in the Hall of Fame.

Of hitters through their age 21 season all-time, Soto ranks 8th in OPS+, 2nd in OBP, 6th in SLG, fourth in wOBA, third in BB%, and fifth in BB/K rate. According to ZiPS, Soto is expected to produce 81.4 WAR from now until his age 36 season, and that same system spit out Ted Williams as a player comp for Soto which ZiPS guru Dan Szymborski said is a first.

During his historic 2020 season, Soto raked to a .474 xwOBA which led all of baseball. And, even in a short injury-filled start to this year, his expected numbers are all incredible. Take a look:

Tons and tons of red. I remember seeing Soto hit an opposite field home run nearly to the bleachers of Yankee Stadium a few years ago which is just unheard of for lefty hitters. He is a rare, rare player and an absolute joy to watch, though let’s hope Yankee pitching finds a way to keep him in check this series.

Projected Lineup

Below is Roster Resource’s projected starting lineup for the Nationals.

  1. Trea Turner, SS (.299/.348/.533, 138 wRC+)
  2. Juan Soto, RF (.283/.391/.434, 121 wRC+)
  3. Josh Harrison, 2B (.329/.417/.466, 145 wRC+)
  4. Josh Bell, 1B (.141/.222/.281, 40 wRC+)
  5. Kyle Schwarber, LF (.187/.265/.333, 63 wRC+)
  6. Starlin Castro, 3B (.260/.296/.350, 76 wRC+)
  7. Yan Gomes, C (.271/.306/.458, 103 wRC+)
  8. Victor Robles, CF (.228/.351.278, 82 wRC+)

Bench

  • Alex Avila, C (.125/.333/.250, 78 wRC+)
  • Ryan Zimmerman, 1B (.314/.352/.588, 152 wRC+)
  • Jordy Mercer, INF (.333/.360/.375, 103 wRC+)
  • Yadiel Hernandez, OF (.300/.370/.400, 113 wRC+)
  • Andrew Stevenson, OF (.224/.278/.327, 66 wRC+)

With the DH in the AL, look for Schwarber to likely DH with Hernandez of Stevenson manning the outfield.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, 5/7 at 7:08pm EDT

Patrick Corbin, LHP

Corbin has struggled in the early going with an 8.10 ERA and 7.31 xERA for a -0.5 WAR thus far. The highly sought after lefty is striking out less than 7 per 9 and walking nearly 6. Look for the Bombers to be patient and wait for their pitch. (Stats vs. Yankees).

Jameson Taillon, RHP

Our beloved Jamo put together his best start last time out giving up 1 run over 5 innings while striking out 8. On the year he has a 5.24 ERA but a 2.90 xERA so look for the strong performance to continue. (Stats vs. Nationals).

Corbin

Saturday, 5/8 at 1:08pm EDT

Max Scherzer, RHP

Scherzer is off to a good start with a 2.54 ERA in his first 6 starts. Notably, he threw a complete game in his last start and good thing there were no extras because he rushed to the hospital right after for the birth of his child! (Stats vs. Yankees).

Corey Kluber, RHP

The Klubot threw the first 8-inning start for a Yankee pitcher in a very long time last time out which lowered his season ERA to 3.03. With increased usage of his changeup we are seeing the next evolution of the Klubot. (Stats vs. Nationals).

Scherzer

Sunday, 5/9 at 1:08pm EDT

Joe Ross, RHP

Ross is struggling with the homeruns this year, giving up 2.03 HR/9 and is otherwise pitching to his usual mid-4’s and 5’s ERA/FIP. Let’s hope for some Mother’s Day homeruns with the pink bats! (Stats vs. Yankees).

Domingo Germán, RHP

Germán is off to a 4.32 ERA 4.91 xERA start, though he has pitched better of late giving up no more than 3 runs each of his past 3 starts including a 7-inning shutout against Baltimore recently. We won’t rehash the non-baseball angle here other than to say I wish anyone else were pitching on Mother’s Day. (Stats vs. Nationals).

Ross

Bullpen Status

PlayerThursday, 5/6Wednesday, 5/5Tuesday, 5/4
Brad Hand9
Daniel Hudson2
Will Harris23
Kyle Finnegan9
Tanner Rainey23
Austin Voth2512
Paolo Espino256
Sam Clay11

Voth is the only guy who’s thrown 2 out of the last 3 days, so the Nats bullpen will be rested for what we hope is a lot of usage against the Bronx Bombers this weekend! Enjoy the series!

Game 1: So, this is actually happening

via @Yankees

It took a while, but MLB Opening Day is finally here. I’ve been getting more and more excited over the last week or so, which I gleefully mentioned on the podcast this week. Today’s news regarding Juan Soto’s positive test was a reality check (more on that shortly), though. I think it’s OK to be excited to watch some baseball tonight — I certainly am going to enjoy the game — but I willfully put the blinders on over the past couple of weeks when I shouldn’t have.

Regardless of how skeptical or critical we are of the league, it’s clear that things are going full steam ahead. Pandemic baseball begins in just over an hour, and with that comes lineups:

Yankees (0-0)

  1. Aaron Hicks, CF
  2. Aaron Judge, RF
  3. Gleyber Torres, SS
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
  5. Brett Gardner, LF
  6. Gary Sánchez, C
  7. Luke Voit, 1B
  8. Gio Urshela, 3B
  9. Tyler Wade, 2B

RHP Gerrit Cole

Nationals (0-0)

  1. Trea Turner, SS
  2. Adam Eaton, RF
  3. Starlin Castro, 2B
  4. Howie Kendrick, DH
  5. Eric Thames, 1B
  6. Kurt Suzuki, C
  7. Asdrúbal Cabrera, 3B
  8. Andrew Stevenson, LF
  9. Victor Robles, CF

RHP Max Scherzer

News & Notes

  • The big news: Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 and is out. First and foremost, he’s asymptomatic which is good for his own well being. Let’s hope it remains that way. Next, it’s important to note that this positive result stems from a test taken Tuesday. That means there’s been potential exposure to teammates and staff, which in turn means potential exposure to the Yankees tonight. Play ball, though! Don’t worry, the league certainly has a grip on this whole thing.
  • No DJ LeMahieu in the starting lineup, though he did make the roster. LeMahieu tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and was a late arrival to camp, so he’s still not quite ready for a full game it seems. That said, we very well may see him pinch hit tonight.
  • It looks like a 16-team playoff will happen this year. Per Marly Rivera of ESPN, the MLBPA has approved an expanded postseason for 2020 only. The division winners will be the top three seeds in each league, followed by the second place teams in the next three spots, with the last two going to the best records remaining.
  • Players can wear Black Lives Matter t-shirts during batting practice, as you can see in the photo at the top. Cleat customization restrictions have been lifted as well so players can express themselves more freely. Also of note, there’ll be a pre-game demonstration as described below:

First pitch is scheduled 7:08 p.m. EDT (TV: ESPN, Radio: WFAN 660/101.9 and WADO 1280). The weather forecast has improved a bit so it seems like this game will be played.

Washington Nationals Series Preview: 7/23 to 7/26

Looking forward to the Soto Shuffle in pinstripes come 2025.

Tonight’s the night. At least, it’s supposed to be. The weather in the nation’s capital doesn’t look great at the moment, so there’s a decent chance we have to wait one more day for Yankees baseball to begin. I really don’t like the whole day off after Opening Day thing, but I guess it may prove beneficial (psst…weather doesn’t look great on Friday either, but let’s take this one day at a time).

Now that the regular season is about to get underway, it’s time for our first series preview of 2020. The Yankees are down in Washington, DC to begin the campaign with a three game set against the Nationals. Let’s break down what’s upcoming this weekend.

Their Story

We all know the Nationals’ 2019 fairy tale by now. Washington was 19-31 through 50 games last year — a start that would undoubtedly eliminate them this year! — yet secured a Wild Card spot with a 93-69 full season record. They snuck past Milwaukee in the Wild Card game, stunned the Dodgers in the NLDS after emerging from a 2-1 deficit, and then swept the Cardinals to reach the World Series. Once again, Washington upset the favored Astros in a see-saw series. The Nats were up 2-0 but lost Games 3 through 5 only to shock Houston in Games 6 and 7 on the road to win the franchise’s first World Series. Washington’s title defense begins now.

After a celebration and a parade, Washington entered a monumental offseason as two of its stars hit free agency: Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. The former returned on a massive seven year, $245 million deal, while the latter departed to the Angels.

Replacing Rendon is an impossible task, but Washington brought in a number of bats in attempt to fill the void. First baseman Eric Thames and ex-Yankee Starlin Castro were the notable outside additions. Additionally, the organization re-signed NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick, Asdrúbal Cabrera, and Yan Gomes.

Lastly, the other noteworthy offseason move was signing free agent reliever Will Harris to a three year, $24 million deal. The 35 year-old righty was the loser of Game 7 of the World Series, but had a terrific 2019 in Houston’s bullpen (1.50 ERA and 3.15 FIP in 60 innings). He’ll certainly help Washington’s bullpen, which was a weak point last season. Nats relievers had a 5.68 ERA last year, second-worst in the league. And as you may remember, they basically only relied on Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle come October. So, Harris helps, although the bullpen still isn’t exactly a strength for the defending champs.

Even though Washington lost Rendon, the club is still in great position to reach the postseason this year. The NL East is a tough division, but none of Washington’s opponents are clear cut favorites. PECOTA still has Washington slightly favored with a 43.6 percent chance to win the East, with the Mets a close second at 33.4 percent. Fangraphs also has the Nats as favorites at 33.1 percent, though the Braves (30.3 percent) and Mets (24.9 percent) are right on their tail.

Injury Report

Washington is without two of its relievers: Wander Suero and southpaw Roenis Elías. Both health issues are undisclosed. Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have opted out due to COVID-19 related health concerns.

Suero was one of manager Dave Martinez’s go-to relievers last year; he called on the righty 78 times. Though Suero’s ERA was unimpressive (4.54 ERA), his strong peripherals led to a 3.07 FIP. Elías isn’t a huge piece of Washington’s bullpen. Due to injury, he appeared in just four games for the team last summer following his acquisition from Seattle.

Spotlight: Carter Kieboom

22 year-old Carter Kieboom is set to replace Rendon at the hot corner. Although Kieboom may split duties with Cabrera in the early going, the position is expected to be his over the long-term. Kieboom had a cup of coffee in the majors last year, but didn’t find much success. He hit .128/.209/.282 (17 wRC+) with two homers in 43 plate appearances. On the bright side, he raked in Triple-A (.303/.409/.493, 123 wRC+), so the bat appears to be just about major league ready.

Kieboom isn’t to be mistaken with Rendon, but he’s certainly a strong candidate to fill his shoes. He’s the consensus top prospect in the Nationals’ system and is ranked highly leaguewide:

Considering his Triple-A performance and the vacancy at third base, now’s the time for Kieboom to shine. The former first round pick is actually a shortstop by trade, though he’s not defensively adept enough to unseat Trea Turner. His defensive grades vary a bit depending on your site of preference, but one thing is clear: he can hit.

Projected Lineup:

I’ve included the Roster Resource projected lineup below and added ZiPS’ wRC+ and PECOTA’s DRC+ offensive projections in parentheses.

  1. Trea Turner, SS (104 wRC+, 111 DRC+)
  2. Adam Eaton, RF (105 wRC+, 110 DRC+)
  3. Starlin Castro, 2B (97 wRC+, 94 DRC+)
  4. Juan Soto, LF (149 wRC+, 139 DRC+)
  5. Howie Kendrick, DH (106 wRC+, 108 DRC+)
  6. Eric Thames, 1B (116 wRC+, 114 DRC+)
  7. Victor Robles, CF (98 wRC+, 94 DRC+)
  8. Yan Gomes, C (79 wRC+, 77 DRC+)
  9. Carter Kieboom (95 wRC+, 91 DRC+) or Asdrúbal Cabrera, 3B (103 wRC+, 104 DRC+)

Soto, of course, is this lineup’s biggest threat. Things are certainly are thinner without Rendon this year, but this order is still littered with above average bats like Turner, Eaton, Kendrick, and Thames. Kendrick is a career-long Yankee killer, as you may know. Further, guys like Robles and Kieboom may not have exciting projections, but either could be in for a breakout season. They’re two of the organization’s most promising long-term pieces.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7:08 p.m. EDT): Gerrit Cole (vs. Nationals) vs. Max Scherzer (vs. Yankees)

Doesn’t get much better than this. Two of the best pitchers in the sport will square off against each other later tonight.

The Yankees haven’t seen much of Scherzer since his days with the Tigers in the American League, but who could forget that majestic bomb Aaron Judge stroked against him in last summer’s All-Star Game? More of that tonight, please. Anyway, Mad Max remains a perennial Cy Young candidate even at 35 years of age.

Cole is plenty familiar with this Nats lineup after facing them twice in the World Series last fall. He took the loss in Game 2 but was victorious in Game 5. He surrendered a couple of homers to Soto in the process, so that’ll be a fun matchup to watch.

Saturday (7:15 p.m. EDT): James Paxton (vs. Nationals) vs. TBD – likely Stephen Strasburg (vs. Yankees)

The Nationals haven’t announced a starter yet, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Stephen Strasburg will get the nod. Last year’s World Series MVP and newly minted $245 million man is yet another tough opponent for the Yankees this weekend. Although most of the Bombers haven’t faced him, Giancarlo Stanton has seen plenty of Stras back when G was still with the Marlins. .313/.377/.667 with 8 doubles and 3 homers in 48 at-bats ain’t too shabby, even if batter-vs-pitcher matchups aren’t statistically predictive.

Paxton’s velocity will be the first thing to look for in his season debut. We haven’t seen him in front of a publicly available radar gun during Summer Camp, but he himself has mentioned that he’s not quite where he wants to be. Obviously, returning from back surgery threw a wrench into his 2020 plans, but hopefully it’s back sooner rather than later. The Paxton we saw from August and onward last year (61 innings, 2.51 ERA) was brilliant. It’s hard to envision a repeat performance without his fastball in the upper 90s.

Sunday (1:05 p.m. EDT): Bullpen game vs. TBD – likely Patrick Corbin (vs. Yankees)

Native New Yorker and almost-Yankee Corbin should get the ball in the final game of the series. The southpaw was terrific for the Nats in the regular season last year (3.25 ERA, 5.4 WAR) but had an up-and-down postseason. He started and relieved in October, and though his 5.79 postseason ERA doesn’t look all that special, his three shutout innings in relief of Scherzer in Game 7 of the World Series were pivotal. Corbin hasn’t seen too much of the Yankees, though Stanton has taken him deep a couple of times in 16 at-bats.

The Yankees are going with a bullpen game to round out the series. It sounds like Chad Green or Jonathan Loaisiga will open with Michael King following in relief. While I don’t love openers/bullpen games aesthetically, it does make sense to utilize Green against the top of the Nats order right away instead of throwing King right into the fire.

Bullpen Status

Rosters don’t have to be finalized until noon today, so we don’t have a complete picture of Washington’s bullpen yet. That said, we know that the key cogs of the team’s bullpen include righties Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, and southpaw Sean Doolittle. Although Doolittle was the team’s closer last year, he may wind up splitting save opportunities with Hudson this season. Hudson seemed to eclipse Doolittle on the depth chart in the postseason.

Obviously, opening day is as fresh as a bullpen is going to get. And, weather permitting, any and all of these relievers could appear in each game this series thanks to tomorrow’s off day. That’s a plus for both teams, but it’s particularly helpful for the Nationals since the underbelly of its bullpen is especially uncertain.

The Offseason Can Wait One More Day

Juan Soto: Hold My Bat. (Screenshot)

The Yankees took the Astros nearly to the brink. The Nationals are taking things one step further.

For the fourth time since 2014, we get a Game 7 in the World Series. Regardless of the participants, that’s tremendous. After the Nats were 15 outs from elimination Tuesday night, it’s that much sweeter.

What a game Tuesday was. For as snore-worthy the first five games were at times, Game 6 didn’t lack for drama. Alex Bregman and Juan Soto’s dueling bat carries. The Eaton and Soto homers to vault Washington ahead of Verlander and Houston. Whatever that was with the interference call in the seventh inning before Anthony Rendon homered.

The manager of the winning team got ejected!

So the season comes down to Game 7. Dare I say it, the Nationals should be favored. They have Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson ready to go while Houston has Zack Greinke, a tired Gerrit Cole and their bullpen. Still, picking against Houston might be a fool’s errand.

You might be thinking, “This should be the Yankees.” You wouldn’t be wrong. They had their chances to beat Houston — holding them to .179/.281/.318 batting line and fewer home runs in the six-game series — but they came up short. That loss is going to sting for a while, whether or not the Astros win the title.

If you haven’t been watching this World Series for that reason, it’s time to put that to the side. Game 7 doesn’t have to be about hate-watching the Astros. Instead, you can take joy in the marvelous run the Nationals are on. Watch Scherzer give his all after enduring “ungodly pain” in his neck just a couple of days ago and flash his ungodly intense stare towards the batter’s box. Appreciate Zack Greinke’s super-slow-mo curveball.

Oh, and Soto. Has there been a more fun player to watch this postseason (non-Yankee edition)? He’s only 21, in case you missed it.

Soto has a chance to become the youngest World Series MVP ever if the Nationals claim the series and Stephen Strasburg didn’t clinch it last night. Both Soto and Strasburg deserve it for clutch hitting and pitching, respectively, throughout the run, from the Wild Card Game to NLDS Game 5 to Tuesday. I’m dying to see Soto come up with another dinger in Game 7. He seems made for those moments.

Even if you hate both teams, tonight is the last baseball for a while. There are Yankees Classics to take you through February, but the live games are what it’s all about, even if weird umpire calls and the wrong team reign. The offseason can wait for one more day.

Enjoy Game 7. And Go Nats.

News & Notes: CC/Gardner Friendship, Wild Card Preview, Driveline, World Series Rematches, TV Schedule, League Parity

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Driveline Baseball

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.

World Series Rematches

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.

League Parity

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.

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