Home MLB Any chance of a five-game, best-of-five series?

Any chance of a five-game, best-of-five series?

by Matt Smith

MLBLogoThe Oakland A’s disappointing year has condemned me to being a neutral fan once again during the offseason.  Sometimes a magical moment can convince you to throw your support behind one of the remaining teams, usually an underdog and/or a team that hasn’t made it to October for a while.  I haven’t been taken in  by anyone so far, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be, but I will be cheering for Colorado tonight.

Before Phillies fans start to vent their anger, it’s really nothing personal. I just want to see at least one five-game series going the distance during the first round of the playoffs. We’ve already had three sweeps and while they hardly lacked for entertainment and drama, particularly with the astonishing end to yesterday’s Angels-Red Sox game, five exciting games are always better than three.   

Series that end early also have a knock-on effect on the flow of the postseason more widely.  Plenty of rest days are now part of the schedule, which is fine when series go four/five games or six/seven games, but they make for a lot of waiting around when teams like the Dodgers, Angels and Yankees inconveniently dispose of their opponents in short measure.  Had either the Phillies or Rockies swept the other last night we would have had three empty days before the NLCS started.

Sweeps in the Championship series stage are even worse.  The World Series begins on Wednesday 28 this year (the early hours of Thursday 29 for us).  Game four of the NLCS is Monday 19, while the ALCS could potentially be over on Tuesday 20.  Waiting over a week to get back out on the ballfield wouldn’t be great for the players, let alone us impatient fans. 

However, MLB can’t do much about this.  Sufficient time needs to be allowed for each series and rest days are an important part of that if you want the players to play at their optimum level.  Logistical factors also mean that MLB couldn’t just move the World Series forward by a few days in the event of two short Championship series.  It would make it impossible to plan properly for the event, whether you are arranging the travel arrangements for the teams, marketing the games as part of your TV schedule or carefully organising your annual leave from work to allow you to watch the Fall Classic live in the early hours of a British morning.  I would prefer to put up with a delay rather than see my plans go up in smoke, that’s for sure.

Phillies fans shouldn’t worry about my Rockie rooting tonight as my support didn’t help Minnesota avoid a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees.  I was hoping for a Twins win because it would have had a positive effect on today’s schedule for Brits keen to catch more live postseason action.  Game four of the Yankees-Twins series was provisionally scheduled for 00.37 BST, so the rearranged game four of the Phillies-Rockies series would have been moved forward to a 21.07 BST start. The Yankees’ sweep means that the game will now begin two hours later. 

We can’t complain too much as early risers did get some bonus live action this morning from Colorado.  The Phillies and Rockies were still playing as I logged on just before 7.00 a.m. There’s no better way to start the day than sitting down with a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea and listening to the excitement of a live postseason game.  Ryan Howard’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth gave the Phillies a 6-5 lead and unsurprisingly delighted their commentators. The sight of Brad Lidge coming out of the bullpen for the bottom of the frame wasn’t quite so well received.  Two free passes hardly eased their nerves, but Lidge managed to close the door in the end even if he didn’t exactly slam it shut (more a case of the door mat getting stuck beneath it at first and then the lock causing him a bit of bother before it finally went into place).

There are no second chances for the Rockies now.  They need to win tonight to send the series to a fifth game decider.  Most non-Phillies fans will be hoping they can do just that.

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Joe Gray October 12, 2009 - 11:03 pm

Let’s see if the Rockies can get anything out of the miserly Lee. It’s a tough, tough ask, but they have no option if they are going to satisfy our wish for a game 5.

I guess if the Rockies do lose it in four, at least it should see the MLB.com headline writers ease off on the temperature-related puns for a bit (“Here comes the sun: Game 4 to heat up”, “Hot-hitting Torrealba bats fifth for Rockies”, “Phils can expect chilly reception from Rox”, and so on). Every cloud…

Joe Gray October 12, 2009 - 11:33 pm

Also, is this post #1000 on the site?

Matt Smith October 13, 2009 - 7:02 am

Yes it is! I’d somehow managed to overlook that (I’ll blame it on the website redesign taking up my attention).

Shame the Rockies couldn’t take it to game five, but by the looks of it game four was a stunning game. And Brad Lidge did slam shut the door this time, coming in to strke out Tulowitzki. Well done to the Phillies.

Steve October 13, 2009 - 9:42 am

What is it with the ninth innings meltdowns? Just goes to show how important a strong closer is…

Joe Gray October 13, 2009 - 7:52 pm

You deserve sincere congratulations for making it to #1000. I don’t know what the average lifetime of a blog is measure in posts, but I imagine that you smashed it long ago. The best thing is that the blog is growing all the time.

Matt Smith October 13, 2009 - 8:56 pm

Cheers Joe. Here’s to the next 1,000.

Chico October 14, 2009 - 9:42 pm

Matt: Congratulations on 1000 posts! I continue to enjoy your perspective on the game. My discovery of the site was over a year ago and my first post was exactly one year ago tomorrow (October 15). I have appreciated being able to give little updates about our high school baseball program. Hopefully, it will give readers a look at a typical American HS age team and what it goes through during a season. We just finished our Fall Ball season last Sunday with a nice DH sweep to finish at 6-4 and a 3rd place in the league. Off season weight lifting and winter camps are next, especially for those not in a winter sport. Thanks again! Chico

Matt Smith October 14, 2009 - 10:13 pm

Hi Chico. Thanks for your continuing support. It doesn’t seem a year ago since you started commenting here. This season really seems to have gone quickly.


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