The MLB postseason begins this week, and unlike the NBA, we have no idea what’s going to happen.
Take last year, for example. We kind of knew that the Cavaliers and Warriors would meet in the NBA Finals, and with Kevin Durant going to Golden State this offseason, we’re probably looking at an NBA Finals rubber match.
That is not the case in baseball, where there hasn’t been a World Series rematch since the Yankees and Dodgers met in 1977-78 (New York won each series 4-2). Heck, a World Series rematch isn’t even possible this year. That’s because the defending champions, the Kansas City Royals, didn’t even make the playoffs.
Yes, when it comes to the postseason, both sports provide plenty of drama, but baseball is definitely more unpredictable.
“It really would not surprise me if the Mets played the Orioles in the World Series,” CBS Sports MLB columnist Jonah Keri said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It’s mathematically unlikely, but this happens all the time. Wild Card teams win, the team with the best record loses all the time. Because you’re deciding the season in five games after a 162-game season, it lends itself to randomness.”
That’s true, but this year feels a little different, no? After all, the Cubs were the Vegas favorites entering the season and they won an MLB-best 103 games. So doesn’t this year’s MLB postseason seem a little more predictable?
“I think that’s fair,” Keri said. “But when you start to go through the teams, a lot of teams have (injury) issues. The Mets are one. The Indians are another. The Jays aren’t decimated, but they lost their seventh-inning guy, Joaquin Benoit, who literally had given up one run as a Blue Jay. He was unhittable. So their pen is suddenly much weaker than it’s been, and (Craig) Kimbrel’s got the knee issue. This is the cliche that we (say) in every sport: Nobody’s 100 percent healthy this late in the year, except maybe the Cubs. . . . It’s kind of cool that all these teams are so flawed. It almost invites a Cinderella to jump up and maybe win the pennant in one of the two leagues.”
Of course, many Cubs fans probably view their own team as a Cinderella – despite the fact the Cubs haven’t won this many games since 1910, when they won 104.
“They draw better on the road this year than any other team,” Keri said. “Part of that is because their fans travel with them, and part of it is because other teams are fascinated by this story. Because they’re good and young, they become fun to watch.”
Unless they become a dynasty. Then people will start to hate them. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
“Hating is kind of good in sports,” Keri said. “We want to have those grudging respect kind of rivalries, the Carolina/Dukes, all that stuff. Maybe we’re going to get to that point with the Cubs eventually where they’re the lovable Cubs up until the point where they’re beating everybody’s brains in. All that stuff is okay with me, and I think it can be okay with baseball.”