MLB Playoffs: Where favorites go to die

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Somebody please tell me why they bothered to play a 162-game Major League season?

As evidence shows in the early rounds of the playoffs, none of it proved a thing. Favored teams in almost every series ran slower than horses with colic in a thoroughbred showdown.

Tuesday, it was more of the same. The Los Angeles Dodgers? Gone. The Washington Nationals? Finished.

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Kolton Wong

They joined the favored Oakland A’s in the wild card round and Los Angeles Angels as post-season busts. It can be argued that the San Francisco Giants-Pittsburgh Pirates was a toss-up and that the Baltimore Orioles should have been favored over the Detroit Tigers.

Anyway, we’re down to an American League Championship Series between the Orioles (who are probably thanking their lucky Voodoo dolls they are still around) and the Kansas City Royals, who nobody saw coming. Coming Friday to a network near you.

And we’re down to a National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Giants. Really? Really. Turn on the TV Saturday and the proof will be on the screen.

The Dodgers had the fattest payroll in baseball in 2014 at $256 million. The owners spent lavishly and they assuredly were counting on a World Series appearance. Nope. The Cardinals, who seem to always rise to the October occasion, wiped out LA 3-2 Tuesday to clinch their series 3-1.

Kershaw downed

No one can say St. Louis did it the easy way either. Southpaw Clayton Kershaw, the presumptive NL Cy Young Award-winner, finished 21-3 in the regular season, but lost twice to St. Louis this week. The Cardinals hit the fewest homers in the National League this season, but beat the Dodgers on home runs. Fans were probably dancing under the Arch by the Mississippi River when the precincts reported.

The Nationals were certain this was going to be their year. They easily won the NL East and posted the most regular-season victories in the league. Tuesday, they fell to the Giants, also by 3-2, and also in four games. Poor Nationals. They have to go back to D.C. now and listen to interminable Congressional debates that will culminate in no action while the limp-to-the-division crown-winning Cards go on to play those wild and crazy Giants.

That the Dodgers did not put up a better fight, with Kershaw on the mound twice, and while pummeling St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, seems inexplicable. There is a fair chance that manager Don Mattingly will be fired and it will be no surprise if management decides that general manager Ned Colletti’s run is over as well. You spend big bucks, you count on big results.

To recap in the American League…

The West Division winner Angels won 98 games, the most in the majors. They were KO’d from the playoffs in three straight by the Royals, runners-up in the AL Central with 88 wins. The AL East champ Orioles won 96 games and ousted the Tigers, winners of 90 games, in three straight.

To recap in the National League…

The West Division Dodgers won 94 games. The NL Central champ Cardinals won 90. The AL East winning Nationals won 96 games. The NL West runner-up Giants won 88.

Do you think it’s possible a sportswriter could apply for a federal grant to try to explain baseball?

It certainly seems fresh study is in order. Once conclusions are reached he could clue in the Dodgers, Nationals, Angels, and Tigers about why all of these shocking developments ruined their October.

Kershaw would probably like to read that final report, too.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Kansas City Royals
Baltimore Orioles
Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants
Detroit Tigers
Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals

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