Just this past weekend the Philidelphia Phillies were eliminated from the MLB playoffs in the 5 game Divisional series at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. Chris Carpenter pitched a 3-hit shutout to eliminate the Phillies in game 5 by a score of 1-0. When the Phillies went up 2 games to 1, many were wondering whether game 4 in St. Louis would be Albert Pujols’ last in a Cardinals jersey. It was not to be, as the Cardinals won the last two games to win the series and advance to the League Championship Series.
It’s been a nice run to the Cardinals, since they were down in the National League Wild Card 8 ½ games at the end of August to the Atlanta Braves, only to win the Wild Card on the last day of the season. Their reward was being matched up with the Philedelphia Phillies, who won a MLB best 102 games and had a starting rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Yet this talented quartet could not stop the Cards.
As exciting as it is to see an amazing performance and an upset, I can’t help but wonder what could have been. I would have loved to see the team with a pitching staff featuring 3-Cy Youngs (Halladay & Lee), a 2x 20 game winnder (Oswalt), and a NLCS and World Series MVP (Hamels). Sure, the Cardinals were the better team, but they were the better team in a 5 game series. The Phillies showed their excellence over a 162 game season.
This is the problem with the short series; 4 games are a lot harder to win than 3. Teams tend to show their dominace over a longer series rather than just riding a short hot streak. In the Wild Card era (1995 on), only 3 teams with the best record in the MLB have went on to win the World Series (’98 Yankees, ’07 Red Sox, ’09 Yankees). Fans aren’t getting to see the best the MLB has to offer.
With the talk of adding another Wild Card team next year (the 2 Wild Card teams would likely play a 3 game series, like a “play-in” game) this only leads to more upsets and less quality. I’m fine with Cardinals, but they only have 2 legit starting pitchers (Carpenter and Garcia). Over the course of a 7 games series, that lack of depth would probably be exposed. The ’09 Yankees showed a team really needs a minumum of 3 starters (Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett (sort of)).
Here’s my proposal: 1. Shorten the regular season to 154 games. Not only will there be time for each series to go 7, but also there won’t be any baseball in November. 2. Add a Wild Card to each league. It will add excitement to the end of the season and give additional teams a shot (Toronto, Baltimore…). 3. Expand the Divisional Series to 7 games. If a team can get in as a second Wild Card, they shouldn’t be able to win 5 games (2 games Wild Card series, 3 games LDS) to defeat a team which has showed excellence over the course of 162 (ok, 154) games by winning its division.
And if you don’t like my ideas, give me a break, I’ve got to do something now that the Yankees have been eliminated.