The playoffs this year are strangely wonderful this year, and I do mean wonderful. The playoffs are supposed to be when the best team or teams show themselves, but that has not necessarily happened this year. No team has really separated themselves from the pack. There is not a team who look like the Yankees of the late 1990’s; ready to steamroll anyone who gets in their way. Nor do we have a team filled with rental players, like the Florida Marlins during both of their World Series runs. All four of the remaining teams have built their teams the right way, by drafting well, making smart roster moves, with the occasion big trade. If you were to ask four people, outside of the remaining cities, who they think will win the World Series, you would get four different answers.
Another part of the wonder of this year’s playoffs is the relative lack of high payrolls among the remaining contenders. On paper, the World Series looked like it was going to be between the Dodgers and Angels. The Dodgers had an Opening Day payroll of $235 million, the highest in baseball history. The Angels were sixth at $155 million on Opening Day. The Giants were seventh at $154 million, the Cardinals were 13th $107 million, the Orioles were 15th at $111 million, and the Royals were 19th at $92 million. By baseball standards, based on payroll the NLCS is a clash of lower management versus average joe. The ALCS is a clash between average joe versus lower middle clash.
Despite the apparent lack of financial might, every one of the last four teams, in their own way expected to win this year. The Giants seem to be on an every other year cycle as far as winning the World Series, and since it is 2014 they are trying to add another championship to their recent victories in 2010 and 2012. The Cardinals have now made it to at least the NLCS for four straight years, including winning one World Series and losing another, in 2011 and 2013 respectively. The Giants and Cardinals have owned the National League for the last four The ALCS is slightly different. The Orioles have finally over come the mighty AL East for the first time since 1997. They were able to have a terrific season, which was made all the more enjoyable by the Yankees and the Red Sox having down years. The division was not hotly contested once September rolled around, but then the Orioles were getting themselves healthy for a playoff push. The Royals finally made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
Since their last appearance in the playoffs I was born, graduated high school, college, graduate school with two years to spare. The Royals just missed winning the AL Central by one game. However, despite having to play the Wild Card playoff game, they have charged through the Athletics and the Angels to reach the ALCS. I have no idea who will win the World Series, much less make the World Series. Yes at the moment the Royals have a 2-0 lead over the Orioles, but I can still see Baltimore coming back. The Giants and Cardinals are tied 1-1 but both teams are still alive and well as they fight for the NL pennant. The playoffs this year are wonderful and continue to get wilder by the day.