Saturday, November 4, 2023

Month of MLB: Final Thoughts

In case you missed it, here's how the World Series turned out:

Texas 4 - 1 Arizona

Rangers win the World Series for the first time in history.  They've been trying since 1972.  Bruce Bochy wins his fourth World Series as a manager.  Here's what that list looks like:

T1.  Joe McCarthy:  7 (1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943)
T1.  Casey Stengel:  7 (1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958)
3.  Connie Mack:  5 (1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930)
T4.  Joe Torre:  4 (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000)
T4.  Bruce Bochy:  4 (2010, 2012, 2014, 2023)
T4.  Walt Alston:  4 (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965)

Three of the guys on this list (McCarthy, Stengel, and Torre) won all their titles with the Yankees.  Connie Mack won all of his with the Athletics.  Alston won all of his with the Dodgers.  Bochy won three titles with the Giants, who had not won the World Series since 1954, when they were still in New York, and now has a title with the Rangers, who had never won the Series.  It's an enormously impressive accomplishment.

One more point.  Here's the list of managers who have won three World Series.  I think you'll recognize these names:

T7.  Tony LaRussa (1990, 2006, 2011)
T7.  John McGraw (1905, 1921, 1922)
T7.  Sparky Anderson (1975, 1976, 1984)
T7.  Miller Huggins (1923, 1927, 1928)

All those guys are in the Hall of Fame.  None of them has as many World Series titles as Bochy.

Given these facts, it's hard to say that the final results of the 2023 season were random, or that Texas is not a worthy winner.  In my opinion, if you ran through these playoffs 1000 times, most of the time the winner would be Texas or Houston.  The Rangers went 4-3 against the Astros, and went 9-1 against the Rays, Orioles, and D-backs.  The Rangers did not lose a road game in the playoffs.  On the other hand, the Texas/Houston series was a dogfight, and the Astros certainly could have won it.  So I'm quite confident those were the two best teams in MLB, and that their playoff decided the title.

My experiment of largely ignoring the regular season and focusing on the playoffs really paid off.  I really enjoyed the baseball over the last month, and I'll probably take the same approach next year.

Having said that, obviously I would have enjoyed the season much more if it had been played under the same rules they had prior to 1994.  The AL East would have featured an exciting race between the Orioles and the Devil Rays.  The AL West would have been a war to the end between Texas and Houston.  The NL East would have featured a battle between the Phillies and the Brewers.  And the NL West would have seen its usual struggle between the Braves and the Dodgers.  Now under that scenario, I would have watched a lot more baseball.  I like the Orioles, and I would have tracked their whole season.  I love the Dodgers, and I certainly would have tracked their race against the Braves.  I would have enjoyed seeing whether the Nats could have stopped the Phillies in their race against Milwaukee.  So under those rules, I would have watched dozens of games from April to September.  And then I would have been pumped up for the playoffs.  As it was, I watched very few games before October, and it took two weeks for me to figure out who was playing for teams like Texas and Arizona.  So I would certainly prefer a system where the regular season had more significance.

But consider these facts.  In 1971, MLB had a season for the ages -- ending with a seven games series starring the Orioles and Pirates that underscored the legend of Roberto Clemente.  It's exactly the type of season I would like to see return.  But throughout the summer of 1971, Bob Short tried to sell the Washington Senators to local buyers for $12 million.  Accounting for inflation, that's around $90 million in our money.  Short found no buyers, so he moved the team to Texas.  Today, Forbes estimates that the Washington Nationals are worth $2 billion.  Given those facts, I can see why it's hard to convince MLB that the game would be better off sticking with the old format.

Anyway, I had fun and I look forward to next May, when the NCAA will give us a month of college baseball.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, we had a thrilling Super Bowl back in February. Since then, we had UConn blowout San Diego State in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, we had Denver crush Miami in five games in the NBA Final, and we had Texas bury Arizona in five games in the World Series. Let's hope for some drama in the football playoffs.