Unpredictability is predictable in MLB playoffs
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People follow sports for so many different reasons – the competition of the athletes, the exceptional physical performances, the sense of being part of a larger group of like-minded enthusiasts and so on and so forth. Additionally, each separate sport provides fans with a slightly different experience and appeals to a particular athletic preference.
Basketball fans enjoy the fast-paced, high-flying scoring of some of the best athletes on the planet as they try to outperform each other on the court and in the tattoo parlor. Football fans enjoy the complex strategies, the bone-crushing hits and the circus act plays as skill players and monster-sized men collide in tight pants. Hockey fans enjoy the combination of grace and violence on the ice as mostly non-Americans compete for the enjoyment of mostly Americans. Soccer fans enjoy watching athletes in excellent physical shape endlessly run around an oversized field, faking injuries and hardly ever scoring goals with the players thinking that if their parents had just bought them a real “football” their lives could possibly mean something.
However, above all of these sports (and soccer) is baseball. Baseball doesn’t have a fast pace or complex strategies or ice skating or endless running. But, more so than any other sport, baseball has one thing that clearly separates it from the rest: unpredictability. As with other sports, baseball fans enjoy watching games for what is happening, but they also enjoy watching for what could happen. In any given moment in a baseball game, there are hundreds of different combinations of events that can happen and the more of these you know, the more interesting baseball becomes.
As an example, in game five between the Tigers and the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez came up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. In this situation there are so many different potential outcomes from each individual pitch – from scoring zero runs on a strikeout to end the inning to getting four runs on a home run that would have been enough to win the game – and everything in between. Of course, maybe A-Rod is a bad example because we all knew he wasn’t going to do anything but make an out – but in theory something else could have happened.
You just cannot predict baseball. There’s actually a website dedicated to this very phenomenon called www.youcantpredictbaseball.com. On a daily basis, they list off the very unlikely events that happen each day in the unpredictable world of baseball – like “Every Game Five has been a one run game in the ninth inning” and “The first back-to-back homers in Tigers postseason history: Don Kelly and Delmon Young” and “Jorge Posada triple. He had no triples in the regular season.” If you aren’t following these guys on Twitter, then you’re not a real baseball fan. Or you’re not on Twitter. Okay, maybe you’re a real baseball fan and you just haven’t heard of them; but now you have, so there’s no excuse.
Spoiler alert! I’m about to discuss the results of the first round of the playoffs, so if you have the games cued up on your DVR and don’t want to know who wins, skip to the last paragraph and then come back and read this article when you’ve watched all 19 games.
As I’ve said before, the baseball playoffs do not determine the best team in baseball; they determine who is the champion. Occasionally it’s the best team that wins the championship, but more often it’s a team that got hot and had a few lucky bounces and a few unexpected contributions. A few years ago, one of the worst players in the league, David Eckstein, won the World Series MVP award for his surprising offensive production that week.
Anything can happen. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far.
Milwaukee Brewers. They definitely looked like the best team from the worst division in baseball against the Diamondbacks. They’re pitching was shaky and their offense was spotty. After taking a two-game lead, they had to scratch out a win in the final game of the series. The combination of their relief pitchers and the massive intake of brats and beer have got me worried for Milwaukee’s fans.
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