One of the two most successful teams in Major League Baseball this season will have a longer winter than they may have been expecting.
San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers met in a National League ‘semi-final’ (a divisional playoff series) after racking up the two highest win totals over the 162-game regular season.
The two strongest teams in baseball meeting so early in the playoffs seems unfair, but they could never meet for the World Series championship, so it’s best they got it over with early.
This, however, is Djokovic-Federer in the first round of Wimbledon; or the Stanley Cup on the line in an October game. It’s just so wrong.
The pre-season favourite Dodgers lived up to their April hype by winning 106 games, even without the services for more than half the season of one of their ace pitchers, Trevor Bauer, who got mixed up in a messy legal situation involving domestic abuse.
The Giants, meanwhile, were the big surprise of 2021, winning 107 games after most pre-season ‘experts’ gave them virtually no chance of contending. One prognosticator with apparent inside information pegged them as the 26th-best team (out of 30) going into regular-season action.
The way the playoff system unfolded, the Dodgers and Giants wound up meeting each other in the first round (after the one-game wild-card contest), while two lesser-ranked teams, Milwaukee Brewers (95 wins) and Atlanta Braves (88 wins) met in the other divisional matchup.
On paper, the Dodgers were the better team, with more big-name pitchers, more multi-million-dollar free agents and trade acquisitions, and an aura of recent success (eight consecutive first-place finishes in the NL West). San Francisco, meanwhile, boasted a rag-tag unit of aging players, a pitching rotation put together from a relative scrapheap, and an ability to get the big hit at the right time. A team winning 107 out of 162 games can’t do it all by luck, and manager Gabe Kapler, who lost more than he won during his two-year managerial stint in Philadelphia, was suddenly Casey Stengel/John McGraw reincarnated.
The Dodgers are the big corporation, with a glitzy board of directors and tens of millions in earnings; the Giants are the corner-store operation with Ma and Pa in charge. Joe and Mary Baseball Fan were no doubt cheering for the Giants to carry on with their fairy tale season.
• Headline at theonion.com: “Injured Jaguar Praying It’s Season Ending”
• Roberto Castro, on Twitter: “If you wake up today and your job feels impossible, just remember there is a team of people selling Jacksonville Jaguars tickets, suites, and hospitality packages.”
• Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com (Hampton, Va.): “The White Sox vs. Astros series had 77-year-old Tony La Russa matching managerial wits with 72-year-old Dusty Baker. Could be the story line of the next Clint Eastwood movie.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, in a column defending second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa and trying to tone down fans’ unrest: “Tagovailoa’s apparent crime, if I understand it correctly, is that he is not Justin Herbert.”
• Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha: “Nebraska 21-Northwestern 0 (first quarter score, 56-7 final). This is what happens when the Huskers play a team where the players actually have to go to class.”
• Columnist Norman Chad, on Twitter: “Texans QB Davis Mills, at the half, is 1 of 7, 3 yards, 2 INT. He has a passer rating of 0.0, last achieved by Napoleon when he invaded Russia.”
• Columnist Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, on Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer in the wake of a viral video showing the coach and a young woman dancing provocatively: “Right now, it appears Urban Meyer has about as much credibility inside the Jaguars’ locker room as Oscar Mayer.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Mick Jagger, in Charlotte, N.C., for a Rolling Stones concert, dropped into a small bar for a drink the night before and nobody recognized who he was. ‘Why couldn’t that have been me?,’ asked Jags coach Urban Meyer.”
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Reuters reported a hunter aiming at a moose accidentally shot a senior in a distant house. I'm surprised the NY Jets let Zach Wilson go hunting.”
• Currie again: “Three signs your NFL squad is having a bad season: 3. Mom sells her season tickets — before your first game; 2. Fans petition the Commissioner to play all home games in London; 1. The gift shop's bags come with eyeholes.”
• Steve Simmons of Sun Media: “The Tampa Bay Rays remind me of high school chemistry: I can watch the experiments, I just can’t explain them.”
• Another one from Simmons: “There is no doubt about this: This is the worst season in Edmonton Elks history.”
Care to comment? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. .