What October really needs
October, 8, 2008
Now that the Angels are out, the team with the best record in baseball has won the World Series just twice in the 16 postseasons since baseball creatively went to the wild-card playoff format. If the Dodgers win it all this year -- and if there is such a thing as a favorite going into the second round, they might well be it -- the playoff team with the worst of the eight records will have won the World Series three times. One can sympathize with the Angels' frustrations, especially after the final game with the botched squeeze, Jason Bay's bloop and Jed Lowrie's ground ball through the hole. We understand that after winning 100 games they believed they were the best team in baseball, but the fact is they didn't play well in the Boston series. Vladimir Guerrero had his baserunning gaffe, Francisco Rodriguez hung his changeup, they let a pop fly drop for three runs and -- despite Mark Teixeira's astounding play on Mark Kotsay in the final game -- were outplayed defensively by the Red Sox. The Angels won the season series from the Red Sox 8-1. They are a very good team whose record, in contrast to the clubs in the AL East, was helped by playing 57 games against the Mariners, Rangers and Athletics. But there were some issues, such as the fact that their run differential (+68) was far below that of Boston (+151), Toronto (+104) and Tampa Bay (+103). While the Rays, Jays and Red Sox were 1-3-4 in defensive efficiency among all 30 major league teams, the Angels were 14th. They were a very good team, but not flawless.