Wild Cards, Pennant races…
Kershaw on the 15-day DL, the Indians and the Nats and Bobby Bonilla, too.
Yeah, Bobby Bonilla…
All in this week’s MLB Round Table… pull up a stool; pop a cold one and join in on the conversation…
And… in the Extra Innings feature of MLBRT… a peek at the winner of this year’s College World Series… so-called little Coastal Carolina University beats a “been there, done that” Arizona Wildcat team (4 time champs, 8 times in the Championship game and 38 times in the NCAA tourney.) A reminder that maybe baseball is a game that anybody, any size can play and if they have the ability and the desire then they can compete and just might be able to beat anybody…
1) As of Saturday morning (7/2), only the only divisional leader with less than a 6 game lad in the standings was the Baltimore Orioles. They lead 2nd place Boston by 4 games. The Cubs lead all divisional leaders with an 10 game lead.
And, yes, it is only just approaching the half way mark in the season and lots can still happen but if the trend continues then as September approaches the so-called pennant races will be very undramatic and essentially a who cares event. This could very well affect many team’s bottom line …what with less attendance, etc.
In your opinion, does this situation validate the MLB’s decision to go from 1 wild card to 2 wild cards in each league, or, at the very least make the drive for the playoffs that much more important to the players and to the owners, as well as to the fans who follow the games/teams?
Archie: NO. I still do NOT consider the 2 WC – 1 game thing a Playoff game. It is still bullshit in every way. IF, they wish it to be considered by fans as a true playoff, make it at least a best of five series.
Cut back the regular season, days off during the ASG break, START the season on time, or, something to make up for the time needed to get it in but make it a series.
Dan: I don’t think so. I think that regardless, October always has a race or two, and, if, it doesn’t, I’m sure the Wild Card will feature a race. Either or, it’s still baseball, there’s still something to play for and the playoffs will be exciting, regardless.
I think they tried to make it to always be more interesting by including an extra race with the addition of the second Wild Card, but, I think it’s a little over-kill. As always, that’s just my opinion.
There are teams you can absolutely strike off the list of contenders, but, we have seen so many late season comebacks, in previous seasons, that I think there will be some of these division leaders that can be caught in the weeks to come.
However, adding the second wildcard was a good idea. It gives teams that are good, but, just not able to catch the division leaders, some incentive and something to fight for as the season comes down the stretch.
At one time, I was adamantly against any wild cards and, now, I have done a 180 and think the wild cards are good for baseball. It keeps the also rans with a chance to still make the post season and the fans keep their interest in the games being played by the teams they root for. Not to mention the owners like the continued attendance and the resulting revenue.
I would change one thing though… that one game playoff game between the wild cards needs to go.
If, anything, make it at least a three game playoff.
Steve: As long as I am alive, I will never say that the second wild-card is a good idea. I hated it when it started, and I still hate it today. Not that I am opposed to adding teams to the playoff, but I don’t like the one game playoff game.
You have 30 teams in MLB, right now, and 10 teams get into the playoffs. I may be in the minority, but, I would have no problem with a 16 team playoff sort of like the NBA has. Have the first round be a 3 game playoff, the Divisional playoffs be best of 5, and, then the NLCS and World Series be best of 7. It gives more teams an opportunity which is what the owners are looking for and would still be competitive.
This one game nonsense just does not do any of the teams justice. Look at the Pirates, they won 98 games last season. 98 GAMES!!! And, fell victim to the Cubs in the Wild Card round as they were dominated by Jake Arietta. The way they have it now, it’s guaranteed that two of the three teams in the NL with the best three records would be out before the NLCS. If, you are going to keep the 5 teams and this ridiculous one game playoff, then, at least, put the two teams with the 4 and 5 best records in that game. That would be the fair way to go.
2) Not that long ago, in this column, we had the question which asked which player had the worst present day contract in MLB…
With that in mind… consider this… As of July 1st, the NY Mets will pay Bobby Bonilla… (Remember him?)… $1.19 million and will continue to pay him that $1.19 million every year on July 1st until 2035. In retrospect, could this be considered one of the worst contracts in MLB today?
My question as well is where does this fit into their MLB Cap? IF IT DOES not get included into their annual salary and cap then it is even more bullshit because MORE and more teams will start pulling this crap just to entice players without breaking cap.
This has to be a top horrible contract and probably the worst in baseball. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything that would beat it out.
The fact that he is still being paid on a deal and will continue to collect money for the next 19 years is pretty smart. In this era of athletes blowing money quickly, its a good thing in my mind that Bonilla will be financially secure for the next couple of decades. More athletes should back load their money to be honest.
As far as the Mets are concerned that $1.19 million is peanuts, so, no, this cannot be one of the worst contracts in MLB.
Still as far as Bonilla is concerned… that’s a nice annuity to have going forward that is guaranteed money no matter what may come.
I can go two ways here. The Mets made an investment in Bonilla and saved them quite a bit of money that they could use for other players when they signed Bonilla. Plus, most teams have a unwritten policy to try to take care of their players, past and present. So, now they have a way to keep Bonilla financially stable for the rest of his life as some players destroy themselves after baseball and get into massive debt because they didn’t save. Bonilla is still going to have a stable income coming in and will be able to live comfortably. I actually like the idea and should be something other players and organizations should think about.
3) The Cleveland Indians are presently on a 14 game winning streak (7/2) and lead their division by 7 games… eventually they will lose another game without question. BUT… just how good are the Indians and how far can they go?
Their pitching is great but they need to shore up some weak spots in the lineup. IF, they can do that, they stand a great shot at making it at least to the ALC.
Dan: I think the Indians have a really good team. They have some solid hitting, but, their pitching is absolutely amazing. I said it at the beginning of the season and I’ll say it again, this is the best pitching staff in the majors.
I thought they would win the Central from the beginning and I still think they will. Offense doesn’t win championships, pitching & defense does. I think they can definitely make it to the ALCS and match up against Texas with a very good chance at reaching the WS. This pitching staff is going to take Cleveland very far.
Earl: The Indians ran into the buzzsaw that is the Toronto Blue Jays who killed that streak, but, the Indians can win the AL Central. They have the roster and management in Terry Francona and with the Cavaliers finally bringing a title to Cleveland they have the incentive to make some deals to get to the postseason, and in a way they don’t have that pressure to be the team that breaks the title drought for Cleveland since that has already been done.
The Indians are playing with house money and they should ride that wave for as long as they can.
Joe: At the beginning of the year I was hearing folks talking up the Indians’ pitching staff and how good they were. And, then, how they could make the playoffs this year, maybe even have a shot at being in the World Series. And, I said to myself, yeah, yeah, yeah…
now, here it is almost at the mid season break and they are tearing up t he AL Central.
OK. Sign me up… I’m believer. They got just as good as any other team in the AL of going all the way.
I watched the game that the streak ended against the Blue Jays and realized that number 1: This team has no quit in them; number 2: They have a very very good pitching staff.
This is a team that doesn’t really have one key guy, nor do they have a mega superstar on their team. They do have the right guy leading them in Terry Francona. This sounds a lot like the Kansas City Royals teams over the past couple years, including the World Series champion team.
So, I say this, the Indians are a great team and they will do some damage in the post season. I am still sticking with Texas, as that was my original pick, but, now, that the city of Cleveland is no longer cursed, you never know.
4) Clayton Kershaw was recently placed on the 15-day DL (6/30) with a “mild herniated disc” that supposedly will not require surgery. The Dodgers are 14-2 when Kershaw pitches this season and 29-35 when he does not. Presently, the Dodgers are in 2nd place in the NL West, 6 games behind the 1st place San Francisco Giants.
Is this, while Kershaw is out, a do or die situation for the Dodgers’ 2016 season and any playoff chances they might have?
Their offense is horrible and the rest of the pitching staff is mediocre at best. I don’t see where they will make a playoff spot, IF, they don’t hit the trade market before the deadline.
Dan: Even if, Kershaw wasn’t sitting on the 15-day DL, LAD would still have to make some moves in order to improve their pitching and overall team in order to get the upper edge on SF. The Dodgers really need to get some extra help, now that Kershaw is out at least 15 days, maybe more. Since this is a back problem, and a disc problem at that, it could linger on for the rest of the season and eventually require surgery. Why risk the season on a chance? Get some insurance, get some help and re-assure yourselves that whether Kershaw is healthy or not, the team is still in a good position to win.
Earl: Losing Kershaw hurts. Bud Norris pitched well in his first start with the organization in Kershaw’s absence but the Dodgers have to do something if Kershaw is out long term. Their starting pitching is not good enough to hang with the Giants. They may have to go into the trade market but not sure who they can target specifically to hold the fort down. They do have to do something though, unless they want to watch the Giants run away with the NL West.
Steve: I will say it right here, the Los Angeles Dodgers need Clayton Kershaw in order for them to make any run at the playoffs. After Kershaw, they are just an average team and without him, the Giants are going to run away with the division.
In the Wild Card, the Mets are going to heat up as they have this past week and I think the Cardinals are going to make a move and compete for a wild card berth. So, you cannot be an average team and make the playoffs.
With Kershaw, they make the playoffs; without him, they finish a distant second.
5) Last year The Washington Nationals were highly touted by many sports writers to win it all and they finished with a 83-79 (.512) record and out of the playoffs. This year they are approaching the half way break and are playing at a .605 pace and lead the NL East by 6 games… a noticeable turn around.
In your opinion… To what do you attribute this turn around from last year?
Archie: Last year they played mediocre ball as a Team: Middle of the pack hitting, pitching and fielding. This season they lead the National League in fielding and they are third (soon to be second due to Kershaw going down for the Dodgers) in pitching, and, they are hitting a ton of home runs. So basically, they are playing top tier in all facets of the game.
Putting my finger on any one sore spot I would have to say getting Murphy for second base and getting rid of the error prone Ian Desmond has done wonders for the team. Desmond in fact is NOT EVEN playing infield for his new team.
In 2015, they struggled with a lot of injuries, including injuries to Strasburg, and, not having as much success hitting the ball. This season, they’re playing like they could’ve/should’ve last season and they’re staying healthy. It’s just an all-around good city with everything going as planned for Washington.
I won’t rule the Mets out in the East, especially if their bats finally wake up and be more consistent, but no one should be surprised at the way a team as talented as the Nationals are performing this season.
Joe: Simply this… their pitching staff is pitching the way everyone had predicted they would… or at least a lot closer to what the “experts” had predicted… for last year but didn’t. And their hitters are producing when they need to… which they… outside of Harper… failed to do a lot of last year.
First, the pitching is much better than it was last year. Strasburg seems back to form, Scherzer is dominating hitters once again, Gonzalez is struggling a little but still able to get some quality starts. So, their pitchers are keeping the Nationals in games.
And, second, the offense is solid, even without Harper having the same kind of season as last year. He is still crushing the ball, and opposing pitchers are scared to face him. Everyone is playing well together, and they are clicking. Plus, with the managerial change with Dusty Baker, and his experience, that plays a huge factor as well.
Coastal Carolina wins 2016 College World Series over Arizona…
This is Coastal Carolina University’s first major national championship in any sport…
So… Congratulations to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers… sometimes David does beat Goliath…
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