Monday, October 14, 2013

2013 'Extreme' Playoffs - Is This Baseball or Blowout Ball?

10-14  Sorry Commissioner, but  it seems ever more apparent with the baseball playoffs, in our opinion - to be rather blunt - that certain  'cultures'  are alive and strong among a number of major league baseball's teams.  Playoffs are when teams are especially under pressure to win  in   short ,  season-ending series. We've seen signs of secondary evidence of PED (performance enhancing drug) use  with unusually improved on field performance, especially in pitching this year and number of strikeouts and high velocity. How is it that these players, after long seasons can not only continue to throw baseball's in the mid to high 90's -  but even ramp up their performances to the tune of three no-hitters through five innings  for three games in a row!   Unheard of! 

It's the last gasp, at least this season, for players  several games away from season's end - most will NOT win the coveted ring - and  not only do they want to do well, themselves, but are concerned about their contracts for next year. So, they are especially inclined to take extreme measures that they might not during the season. Another reason for this is that there is no apparent drug testing during  the playoffs . ( in fact the latest bargaining requires only a minimum of one drug test during the season !).  Add to that the drug tests that ARE given may not have kept up with the latest designer PEDs, undetectable only hours after taken, which are,  purportedly the current drug of choice.  There a  number of other aspects that make us have these politically incorrect thoughts of our baseball players which we have outlined before and won't repeat here and now.

So, if you're wondering why the grand old game has taken on an unusally dark, less competitive air with one team blowing out the other with fastballs , perhaps this may be the answer - or at least part of it. Sure, we only see the the top pitchers in the playoffs but the same can be said of the hitters. Teams pull out all stops  but its not only pitching but hitting, too. Sure, the weather is a little colder, perhaps , and balls don't fly out of the park quite as well in Northern cities but hitters still hit and pitchers pitch.
We first noticed the trend to unusual dominance with the unlikely San Francisco Giants in 2010 and then again in 2012. This team of mostly journeyman players dominated  the teams expected to win. Many players on the Giants with average numbers during the season became superstars the last months of the season and in the playoffs, e.g. the starting staff, except perhaps Cain and Bumgartner, seemed to raise their performances - and velocity (which is generally a pretty set number). Even Barry Zito reenacted his old Cy Young-like performance for a rare moment in time.  Pablo Sandoval, who had only hit 10 homers all season hit three in one game and seven in the playoffs against top pitching.
Marco Scutaro, who had only hit .262 through mid-season before being traded to the Giants, suddenly began hitting close to .400 and cutting his strikeouts in half living up to his 'Giants' name - and only got better  through the playoffs, this for a 37-year-old journeyman who had never hit better than .299 in a single season with a lifetime average in the .260s.  In 2010  it  was the same pattern for the Giants but, even more surprisingly, with a largely different cast of characters. No-names like Ross, Uribe, and Renteria  performed sudden damage on their openents with other-worldly numbers (Ross hit eight homers his last month, about half his year's total) .  Over-the-hill guys named Burl and Huff suddenly performed like it peak career players only to fall flat the next year. Just the two INDICTED Giants, Jose Guillen in 2010 and Melky Cabrera in 2012 were enough by themselves to make the difference in the Giants getting into the playoffs... We could go on.

Perhaps Detroit , a very similar team in makeup to the Giants, caught wind of the Giants' propensities when THEY got blown out by the Giants in last year's playoff because, this year, Detroit looks like a carbon copy of the Giants in the 2013 playoffs.  It's pretty odd, to say the least,  to see a playoff team (Detroit) throw three no-hitters in a row through  the first five innings  of the playoffs; in fact,  it's never been done. Also,  it was the first time that a grand slam decided a game that late into a contest. The St. Louis Cardinal pitchers have performed a similar act against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League playoffs; there may not be the no-hitters, but Los Angeles has fared even worse, scoring all of one run in the first two games.  If this trend continues either ALL the teams will have to do whatever Detroit and Saint Louis are  doing or we'll have to put those teams in a separate league, perhaps with the 2010 and 2012 Giants -  and maybe even the 1919 Black Sox. At least if the Cardinals and Tigers play each other in the World Series they should be evenly matched; perhaps it will be the first World Series that no runs are scored thorgh nine - or, the fewest runs scored, anyway. A final note on this topic... it's interesting to note that guys coming up with the big hits in playoff games have been  indicted drug users Johnny Peralta (beating the A's) and Big Papi, bringing Boston back in the second game against Detroit.

The above is our opinion. We would love to be wrong as what we have seen - save the end of the second game with Boston and Detroit-  is not good baseball or good FOR baseball, perhaps not even true  baseball. At this rate, so much for the many prognosticators who expected the truly best teams, Boston and Los Angeles,  to meet in the World Series. Let's see how the rest of the playoffs play out before we make any further judgement. So far NOT so good.

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