We’re down to the 2014 Major League Baseball Season’s Final Four. Four teams have sufficiently survived both their own stupidity and the stupidity of others in order to still be playing baseball games in mid-October. Things that matter a lot in the regular season like “getting on base and not consuming outs” matter less than you might think in the postseason. More important to postseason success is whether or not a team starts hitting a plethora of random WTF dingers (I’m looking at you, Cardinals; and you, Royals, with your ∗‰∅∉ing Mike Moustakas – what actually the hell is going on?), avoids pissing the bed on defense (not like this), and possesses a bullpen that decides to actually slam the door in the later innings (not like this)… ORRRRRR… possess a bullpen that avoids pissing the bed on defense (NOT LIKE THIS).
mattythep drives by Moustakas’s adolescent alma (Stony Point High School in Chatsworth, CA) almost every day during his commute.
Hallowed ground, we’re sure. Clearly, Matty Patty is touched by destiny and you are not.
Moustakas’s enduring legacy aside, let us explore what the 2014 World Series might have in store for us. Which pairing of final combatants would make for the most compelling series? Which would (undoubtedly) sport the best narrative? And which would be most likely to cause a Fox executive to inflict severe harm to his own person? Do any of these things matter so long as we get to hear Joe Buck talk? We explore all of these facets and probably more to bring you:
SWEET NOTHINGS AND HARDBALL’S 2014 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES MATCHUP POWER RANKINGS
The LCSes start today – the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles tip off in mere hours, while the Giants and Cardinals first put up their dukes on Saturday. Most brackets (including that of yours truly) are completely ablaze; seriously, my bracket got straight up nuked.
Beardfaceman’s bracket fared much better in the LDS round – he nailed 3 of 4 advancing teams. Sadly, the one he missed was the big cahouna – those Silly Tiggies will NOT be warpathing their way to that World Series title for which they have so long starved.
While it may seem disingenuous for most anyone to try to save face and “expertly” provide you with a handicap of upcoming round after such disintegration of the best laid plans. I’m going to do it anyway, giving you a quick and dirty LCS primer while taking some pains to review the relevant developments from the LDSes along the way. Feel free to go back and review the Sweet Nothings and Hardball Postseason Primer, as well. You and I both know, however, that you are the type of person that skips to the end of a well-thought-out and well-written review just to see the score. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We will do it again. Onward.
SWEET NOTHINGS AND HARDBALL’S 2014 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP PRIMER
If you care – not that you do, but if you did – here are the dudes’ 2014 postseason brackets. One is “never exceeding the speed limit with automatic transmission,” while the other is “buckle up, buckle up again, and close your eyes because you won’t be able to read the speed limit signs as we blow by them, anyway.” This is probably a valuable insight into how both of us live. Probably.
If you need a primer on the postseason contenders, check out our 2014 Major League Baseball Postseason Primer. Also, before you get your panties bunched up over our releasing our brackets after the completion of the wild card games, you should probably know that both of the dudes consider the Wild Card game to be more of an extension of the regular season than the beginning of the postseason. Observe:
MattyTheP: “Conceptually, [the wild card games] are more ‘Regular Season Game 163′ than ‘Playoff Game 1’ to me.”
BeardFaceMan (simultaneously): “[The wild card games] are essentially a mandatory 163rd game.”
Let the actual playoffs begin.
Matty Patty will be taking the “Baseball is Predictable” approach to his postseason picks this year.
On the Matchups Guaranteed to Happen:
Orioles peck Tiggies’ eyeses out in 4
Both teams can bang. Admittedly, the Tigers possess the superior starting pitching talent, and it is not especially close, but it says here that the Orioles will sufficiently feast upon the rotting meat that is the Tiger bullpen to neutralize the talent gap. Seriously, the Tiger bullpen is hysterical. Hysterical bullpens fail in October. Failing bullpens make teams go home. The Tigers are going home very soon.
Angels prove even Royalty can go to heaven (in 4 short days)
Day 1: Angels win. Day 2: Angels win. Day 3: Angels and Royals travel to Kansas City. Day 4: Angels win.
The talent gap here is severe. The only hope for the Royals is for their decent rotation to somehow neutralize the awesome Angels lineup better than the Halos’ rotation abuses the abysmal Sovereign bats so the absurd KC bullpen can put 6th inning leads away. That is how a thing such as that can happen; things such as that will not very, very probably will not happen.
Dodgers shoot Cardinals in a hunting accident; Cardinals die 4 games later
Isn’t that what rich, powerful people do? Shoot small creatures with big guns? And don’t other rich, powerful people sometimes look like small creatures in the heat of the moment? I’ll have to take rich, power people at their words on this one – after all, who wants to upset rich, powerful people?
The Dodgers are absurdly talented from top-to-bottom (NINE players over 3.0 WAR this season, plus another three over 2.0). While their bullpen is quite questionable outside of Kenley Jansen, their bats will probably put up enough runs and their rotation will probably give up so few that the bullpen will only be able to screw it up once. I wouldn’t count on Yasiel Puig to pull a repeat of last October’s hilarious tragically self-destructive shenanigans, either.
The Nationals slaughter the Giants in a quick, comparatively humane fashion
If I were to pick a team that is most capable of pulling off a first round upset, it would be the Giants. Their lineup is pretty solid, their rotation will probably get the job done reasonably well, and Bruce Bochy plays October bullpen chess like no one else managing today. It’s just that everything the Giants do well, the Nationals do better. More power, more walks, vastly superior starting pitching, and superior bullpen production. To be fair, the Giants’ bullpen was quite good outside of Sergio Romo this season, and Romo will (please please please) not pitch high leverage innings this October. The Giants have an abundance of October experience, respectable talent, and the resilience of a cockroach that has served them well in other seemingly Kobayashi Maru situations, but my brain is telling my heart that the magic finally stops here. Nationals in no more than 4 games.
Briney Deep will be taking the ‘Baseball Is Awesome’ approach to his postseason picks this year.
On the Matchups Guaranteed to Happen:
TIGERS MUNCH O’S IN 5
The Tigers have three Cy Young winners, and an old slow guy who is having the greatest year of his career at age 38. They got the blue ribbon at the trade deadline this year by nabbing David Price for this playoff run. Miguel Cabrera turned down his playoff bonus money because he feels it is World Series or Bust this year. The Tigers have postseason experience and a window that will likely start closing next year. The time is now for the Detroit Tigers.
ROYALS ROLL CONTINUES
If you need any more evidence that everything is breaking good for the Royals, you’ll see it here. I put the ceiling for this team as the ALCS, and they’ve been rolling hard 8’s all year, so why stop now? Some early runs off a vulnerable Angels starting rotation, and the fearsome (and deep) Kansas City bullpen makes it hold up for the shocker upset of the postseason.
SWEEP DREAMS; CARDS BLANK BIG BLUE IN 3
With the first two games in pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine, the Cardinal pitching pedigree finds its mojo. The sleeping giant Dodgers team will get ambushed by a fearsome Cardinals squad that had to battle all the way down the stretch. Expect a low-scoring affair, but I see the Cards coming out the winners, building off their hunger from last year’s playoff experience.
GIANTS CRUSH NATIONALS; MLB TO REVIEW PLAYOFF FORMAT IN WAKE OF INSANE GAME 4 BLOWOUT:
The Giants have won two World Series baseball championships in the last handful of seasons. Fans of the team enjoy this fact, but a select subsection of casual followers have complained that the Giants tend to clinch these epic feats on the road. Heeding this gripe, the Giants will make an effort this year to clinch all of their remaining playoff series at home. Game 4 is the last game of this series that could be played in San Francisco, and the Nationals are a fairly good baseball team, so I’ll pencil them in for winning one of the first two games played in Washington. The Giants will flip the switch once they arrive home and take care of business in Games 3 and 4, clinching the series in San Francisco for the fans who were not satisfied by the previous championships because they didn’t occur within walking distance of their house.
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October is (basically) here. The crucible of baseball games pretty much every day for six months has eroded away 67% of the field. Gone (officially) from our everyday baseball musings is the wretched refuse – the teams that make people scream “WHAT ACTUALLY ARE YOU GUYS DOING?!?!” Let’s just cut to the chase – the teams that do things like this:
Oh, the Angels made three errors on the same play back in April, you say?
The Dodgers threw the ball all around the field during pennant chase in September?
Alright, so playoff teams do dumb stuff, too. Actually, they do an awful lot of dumb things when all is said and done. On the balance, however, they do bad things a bit less than do, well, bad teams. Think about it: the teams with the three best records in all of Major League Baseball still spent the equivalent of over two months losing games this year (64 losses for the Angels, 66 for the Orioles and Nationals). The six-month regular season is a matter of surviving the humanity of one’s self and one’s teammates as much as it is surviving the onslaught of one’s opponents.
Six months is also a long time for you, sports fan. We know you have lot pictures of cats to peruse on the internet are busy, we know you have a life, and we know that following even one team everyday for six months can be a challenge. Fear not – we have your back. The dudes will bring you up to speed on the ten teams that managed to survive the summer a little better than the rest – the teams that will wake up on September 30th and still have a mathematically verifiable chance to win the 2014 World Series. We have the Cliff Notes non-trademarked quick summaries, we have the graphs, and we have the punchy tale-of-the-tape numeric profiles that will make you the envy of every water cooler discussion. Then? It is up to you. You won’t find any brackets or World Series picks here – YOU get to fearlessly decide who will be winning it all. Trolls, we give you:
SWEET NOTHINGS AND HARDBALL’S 2014 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL POSTSEASON PRIMER
Finally. Belatedly. Past-waiver-trade-deadline-ishly. Kinda-sorta-almost-Octobery. We rise from the ooze of June Swoons, the Heart of Hell from which July stabs at thee, and the autumnal sunlight that signals pigskin is here in a meaningful way to pick, from a sample of three, one to ‘Date’, one to ‘Marry’, and one to ‘Kick to the Curb’. The Subjects? All 30 MLB rosters. The Objective? To provide you with a cursory introduction to some of the players and concepts we value… and hate. You know it. You love it. It’s…
Sweet Nothings and Hardball’s “SpringSummer Fall Fling / Give Him A Ring / Leave Him Crying” Game!
Spring Fling: Ready to give a season to this player, but for any number of reasons it probably won’t work out long-term.
Give Him a Ring: Ready to commit to this player for at least 3 seasons.
Leave him Crying: Ready to be cold and heartless because sometimes we don’t want to be masochists anymore.
Players must have accrued MLB service time this season to qualify as entrants.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Presented in order of standings on September 23, 2014.