Baseball is weird and unpredictable and governed by the laws of randomness as much as it is by the umpires. For example, the best team in baseball can go out in their first playoff round after days of rest and the 3rd-place team in the NL East can make it to the League Championship series. You need depth to survive a 162-game season and then you need hot players and luck to win the short the playoff series, and those two things don’t always correlate. But they do make for some really fun series and great moments. Here’s hoping the goose lands on your opponent’s field.
CUBS – BRAVES
The teams traded hitting barrages against each other; Cubs score 6 and win, Braves score 6 and win, Cubs 5-3 and then 10-2, Braves 7-1 and then the bats cooled off and the pitching took over. Braves evened the series at three with a 4-1 game 6 behind Strider, Elder, and Minter, setting up a decisive game 7. Assad pitched into the 6th and turned it over to Smyly for the Braves; Javier pitched 7 scoreless inning before handing the ball to Brandon Hughes. After scoring in the top of the 10th Scott Effross held the Braves down in their last at-bat and sealed the series for the Cubbies. Danny Wildes has a lifetime win percentage of 53% in 17 seasons…he’s made the playoffs five years in a row and comes off of a championship season in 2020 and a World Series runner-up season in 2021, and he’s followed it up this year with his best win total ever at 106…the only time he’s every gone more than 2 seasons without making a playoff appearance was 2014-2017, and he finished in the top-10 WOR spots 3 of 4 years during that span…the guy is really good at this game…really enjoy playing and competing with you Danny, and I can’t believe it’s been 17 years…enjoy the offseason, and I look forward to seeing you in spring training!
BREWERS – DODGERS
The upstart wildcard team won each of the first two games before the Dodgers got rolling and took all 3 games in Milwuakee, outscoring the home team 18-5 in the set. Aaron Ashby scattered 7 hits over 5 and a third in game 3 and combined with 3 relievers to turn in a shutout and force a game 7…In the second series to go to an extra-inning game 7 the Brewers scored in the top of the 10th and held on with a perfect inning from Devin Williams to advance. I am running out of superlatives for Rick Wynne. The ASFBL’s all-time win leader…closing in on 3,000 career victories…highest lifetime winning percent for anyone with more than one season…three world series championships and six apperances…the quintessential good heart and true gentleman…someone who is forever kind and pleasant…his 122 wins are a career-best and the second best in league history behind the 1998 Yankees…he just finished 29 years in the league, and I can truly say that he’s one of the core guys who makes the league what it is…I can write the code, Leo can keep the trains on time, but if there aren’t great owners who make the games go the league isn’t what it is, and Rick is one of our all-time great owners and an all-time great guy. I deeply appreciate all you bring to the league, Rick, and I always feel a quick jump of joy when I see your name on a message. Enjoy watching the rest of the playoffs, and we’ll see you next spring!
Momentum lasts as long as tomorrow’s starting pitcher is an axiom that didn’t need more proof but this series had it…the Guardians took a 3-1 series lead before dropping game 5 when the Jays took the game to the 11th, went down by two, and then scored three in the bottom of the extra inning to keep the series alive…the two runs in the top of the 11th were the last they’d give up in the series as Stripling and Gausman allowed nothing for two games to escape into the LCS…I can’t believe I met Steve more than a decade ago but it says here he joined the league in 2011…after learning the ropes for 5 seasons something clicked…in 2013 and 2014 he had losing seasons and dropped into double-digit negative WOR performances which might have discouraged some…Steve Skrovan went on to five straight playoff appearances including a World Championship in 2019 and this season marks the 6th of the last 7 seasons he’s been in the playoffs and the 4th time he’s eclipsed 90 wins…Steve is just an accomplished guy all around, a former college football player, a successful Hollywood writer, a producer of award-winning documentaries, and a dedicated Dad…I’m not writing all these nice things because he gets me owners-box seats whenever Cleveland visits the Angels, but he does that too…nachos are on me at the next Anaheim visit, Steve, and enjoy the offseason!
HOUSTON – TEXAS
…which sounds like I’m typing the name of a city, not a playoff series. In an ASFBL and now MLB rarity, the higher seed took control and was able to hold on. Astro pitching allowed 1 run or fewer in 3 of the games (something I bitterly note deGrom and Scherzer were supposed to do), and in the one high-scoring affair the Houston bats outslugged the Rangers 8 to 6…Jim Casey advances to the LCS for the fourth time in the past 6 years, and Ben Brockreide finishes another successful campaign…Ben has been in the league for five years now, has had a positive-WOR finish in every one of them…he’s finished in the top-10 WOR spots each of the past four years including this season’s championship…his +22 WOR are an improvement even on last years’ +19…he is the living proof that the ASFBL keeps things interesting for bad teams by leaving plenty of open ground for improvement, and few have done it as well as Ben since he’s been in the league…congrats on your first playoff appearance, Ben, and this Angel fan hopes you never get a chance to GM the actual Rangers…enjoy the off season and we’ll see you in spring training!
Jays are at Houston, Cubs are at Brewers…I’ll get the schedule set by this afternoon, and I’ll ask the Final Four to get the lineups in by Thursday and email Leo and I when you do…we’ll run the games no later than Fridy and finish up the season over the weekend.