First Pitch: Finding a Post-Season Team
One of the side effects of the Pirates losing for 20 years in a row is that baseball carries on without them once the regular season is over. For that reason, I usually try to find a post-season team to pull for, as I’m sure any other baseball fan does.
I usually go with the underdogs or the small market teams. That seems to be another common trend. This year, that’s the Oakland Athletics.
For all the talk of the collapse by the Pirates, the A’s did the exact opposite. On June 30th, the A’s were 13 games back in their division, with a 37-42 record. From there, Oakland went 57-26 in the second half, winning the AL West on the final day of the season. They did all of this with one of the smallest payrolls in the league, and right after trading two very talented young pitchers in the off-season. Get Moneyball 2 in the works.
The conflict I always see with the post-season is that small market teams never win. Since 1994, only one team has won the World Series with a payroll in the bottom half of the league. That was Florida in 2003. So the odds are stacked against Oakland. If Oakland did win it all, it would be bittersweet. As a fan of Billy Beane’s work, it would be great to see the Athletics win it all. As someone who pulls for small market teams to overcome the odds, it would be an amazing story if Oakland won. But if that happened, it would forever be what Bud Selig would point to as a reference that MLB is balanced and anyone can win it all. Never mind that Oakland would be the exception to the rule, and teams with large payrolls have a much easier time contending.
The playoffs start today with the one game wild cards, and it will be interesting to see how the new format works out. After that, the division series games will start on Saturday.
Who are you pulling for? Going small market with the A’s? Keeping it in the NL Central with the Reds and Cardinals? Anyone but the Yankees? Time to switch to football and hock….uh, football? Leave your pick in the comments below.
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