OBSERVATIONS: Why should a 106-win team have to play a wild card game?

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, fresh from a week on St. Simons Island, deeply tanned, excessive baggage around the waist and totally exhausted from doing nothing.

—My son, Brian, asked me this pertinent question: Do you think MLB should seed the playoffs after the teams are determined so a team that wins 106 games doesn’t have to be a wild card team?

My answer: Absolutely. It is a sham that the Los Angeles Dodgers won 106 games and their reward was a one-game do-or-die playoff. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves won only 88 regular-season games and advanced right into the National League Division Series. Same for Milwaukee, winner of 95 games.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers busted their tails to win 106 games, an all-time franchise record, but San Francisco won 107 in the same division, so LA’s payoff was it had to win a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the hottest team in baseball. Never thought I’d ever defend the Dodgers in anything, but what’s right is right. And this is wrong in so many ways.

Fortunately, justice prevailed in a classic game, a 3-1 walk-off win for the Dodgers on Chris Taylor’s two-out, two-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth.

What a match-up, what a game. St. Louis had won 11 straight road games. Los Angeles had won 15 straight home games. Something had to give. St. Louis gave.

The Dodgers had won every game Max Scherzer started, seven games, since they acquired him from Washington. Adam Wainwright was 10-1 and the Cardinals had won 13 of his last 14 starters. Nothing gave here. Neither figured in the decision and LA manager Dave XXX had to pry th ball out of Scherzer’s glove to take him out with one out in the fifth.

Scherzer gave up a run in the first on a wild pitch and Wainwright gave up a run in the fourth of a home run by former Reds farmhand Justin Turner, his 13th post-season home run.

So it was 1-1 with two outs in the ninth and a runner on base when St. Louis manager Mike Shildt strangely brought in Alex Reyes, two steps below awful in his last 34 games with a 6.91 earned run average.

Taylor, a late-inning insertion, crushed the fourth pitch Reyes threw, a dangling slider that screamed, “Hit me to Pismo Beach,” and he did.

Justice prevailed. The Dodgers are off to their eighth straight NLDS and get to play the 107-win San Francisco Giants, the team that shoved LA into the wild card morass.

—Before Waite Hoyt became a legendary broadcaster and story-teller for the Cincinnati Reds, he was a Hall of Fame pitcher and a teammate to Babe Ruth on the New York Yankees.

Hoyt was a recovering alcoholic. He missed 10 weeks of Reds’ broadcasts one year to go on rehab. It was announced that his absence was due to amnesia.

Babe Ruth sent Hoyt a telegram that read, “Read about your case of Amnesia. Must be a new brand.”

—QUOTE: From Hall of Fame pitcher and former Reds play-by-play announcer Waite Hoyt: “Wives of New York Yankee ballplayers, when they teach their children their prayers, should instruct them to say, ‘God play mommy, God bless daddy, and God bless Babe Ruth.’ He’s upped daddy’s paycheck by 15 to 40 percent.”

—With the Houston Astros winning the American League West championship without use of trash cans, manager Dusty Baker has now won division titles with five teams: San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington and Houston.

And Tony LaRussa led the Chicago White Sox to the American League Central championship. LaRussa has won 12 division titles with Oakland, St. Louis and the White Sox.

Baker is 72 and LaRussa is 77. So let’s hear it for Senior Citizens.

The thing is, Baker and LaRussa are not BFFs. They had a few confrontations when both were in the National League Central, LaRussa with the St. Louis Cardinals and Baker with the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati.

Said Baker, “I don’t like to lose. He doesn’t like to lose. There were some things he did that I didn’t like and I did some things he didn’t like.”

—QUOTE: From Houston manager and former Reds manager Dusty Baker, truly a renaissance man: “Everybody knows something, but nobody knows everything.” (When it comes to baseball, though, there isn’t much that Dusty doesn’t know.)

—So the Cleveland Indians are no more. They now are officially the Cleveland Guardians. Until I get used to Guardians, if I ever do, they are the Cleveland – – – – dians.

QUOTE: From Cleveland owner Bob Dolan in 2018 when interviewed by cleveland.com columnist Terry Pluto: “Not only are we adamant about keeping the name Indians, but the Commissioner (Rob Manfred) is similarly supportive of the name. Yes, some people will continue to make noise about that, but I’m not troubled by its use. The Commissioner is not troubled by the use of the name. We are confident the name will continue on.” (Oh, really? So we can still call them the Indians and the Tribe?)

—Former sleeveless Reds slugger Ted Kluszewski would not be attending the Three True Outcomes school of thought for baseball these days — homer, walk, strikeout.

During his best four years with the Reds (1953-56), Big Klu had more home runs than strikeouts. He hit 40, 49, 47 and 35 homers while striking out 34, 35, 40 and 31 times.

—QUOTE: From former Reds first baseman Ted Kluszewski: “I’m not sure what the hell charisma is, but I’m pretty sure it’s Willie Mays.”

—TRICKY TRIVIA: From John Kiesewetter’s new book, ‘Joe Nuxhall, The Old Lefthander & Me,’ and the answer is not Joe Nuxhall: “Who is the only man to play in all three of the last Cincinnati Reds venues — Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium and Great American Ball Park?”

ANSWER: Paul McCartney (Not even Eleanor Rigby would get this one right.)

—If you go to St. Simons Island, this small piece of real estate offers 69 restaurant choices. During a week’s stay, we didn’t partake of all 69, but we certainly tried.

Here is McCoy’s Menu ratings, restaurants worthy of you putting on 10 to 15 pounds:

*CRABDADDY’S — I hate bread pudding, but team it with vanilla ice cream at this place and it is heavenly.

*GEORGIA SEA GRILL — The crab soup is a must and The Catch of the Day flounder, cooked Cajun-style, is a stomach pleaser.  And the pecan (is it pee-can or pee-con?) pie has pecans as big as your thumb.

*FIDDLER’S: If you like hush puppies, this is the place for you. And the shrimp and sausage over rice is a pallet pleaser.

*TRAMICHI’S: The best lasagna ever to touch my lips.

*THE HALF SHELL: Oysters served every way imaginable and this establishment serves only one dessert, butter cake with vanilla ice cream. Definitely save room for it.

*THE PORCH: A lunch delight in the village and the Mother Plucker (hey, that’s what they call it) chicken sandwich and the frozen Frose drink will force an afternoon nap.

*FROSTY’S: A double cheeseburger, onion rings and a vanilla shake is a reminder of home.

*DEL SUR: An Argentine restaurant and the filet mignon over rice was scrumptious, even though we nearly froze to death with the air conditioning set at sub-zero.

3 thoughts on “OBSERVATIONS: Why should a 106-win team have to play a wild card game?

  • October 7, 2021 at 11:01 am
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    Very nice read. I was just thinking of Wait Hoyt recently. He had many stories to tell and retell during rain delays. I enjoyed his announcing.

    Reply
  • October 7, 2021 at 2:38 pm
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    In regards to your thoughts regarding what is fair regarding playoff implications for a 106-win team, on the surface I agree with you, Hal. It doesn’t seem fair, if you are a Dodgers fan, to have had to play a one-game playoff while Atlanta and Milwaukee lounged in the corner. However, until MLB teams truly have financial parity (similar to the NFL), the current system of awarding playoff spots is the best way that MLB can attempt to generate continued interest in mid to small-market cities. The Dodgers bought the best all-star lineup that money could buy, so 106 wins was no surprise. They went out and bought Max Scherzer and all he did was dominate over the last few months of the season. As a lifelong Reds fan, I don’t want to watch the same big-market teams (with the occasional blips from mid and small-market teams) dominate post-season every year. If the Dodgers and Red Sox play in the World Series this year, I doubt that I will even tune in for more than an inning or so. Ho hum…

    Reply
  • October 10, 2021 at 6:52 pm
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    I will be Hungry for a week !!!!

    Reply

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