What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
EDITOR’S NOTE: Boyd Bergquist was the sports director at KETS-TV in East Tree Stump, Nebraska for almost 40 years. Known across the Husker state as the voice of the Boy’s High School Basketball Tournament, Bergquist was a four-time winner of the Marv J. Butz “Golden Cob” Award For Excellence In Nebraska Broadcast Journalism. That background, along with his quick if not cliché-riddled wit and love of single-malt scotch makes Bergquist a perfect fit to be our “Question” guy, but today, he’s here to dish up a preview of the upcoming baseball play-offs.
Like the song says, Camptown Race Track might be five miles long, but that’s nothing compared to 162 games. Now that we are at the end of that stretch, we are down to the last ten team with a chance yet to win the ultimate prize in this game. Covering baseball season like a horse race, you know that I break the baseball season down into four parts; the last obviously being the race to the wire. To that end, let’s recap how we got here. If you recall, I’m not about the usual “power ranking” stuff. Instead, I started this season by breaking down all 30 major league squads into six easy-to-understand groups based on what I thought these teams could realistically expect in 2019. Those original six categories were as follows.
Once we got to Memorial Day, I had six new categories at the “far turn” which again should be fairly self-explanatory.
Half-way through the race, there really are only two categories to worry about; is your team a play-off contender and should they be a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline? Here’s how I saw it.
Some teams helped themselves at the deadline, and some teams didn’t; you can see a breakdown of that here. But that was then and this is now, and now means October and post-season play…which means the real race begins.
Tampa Bay Rays
The only reason this team is mired in the AL Wild Card is they were chasing the uncatchable Yankees. The AL is brutal; it possesses three 100-win teams, two of which bombed over 300 dingers. If the Rays somehow become the AL representative in the World Series, they will likely have to deal with either the 106-win Dodgers, the 98-win Braves, or even perhaps the monster starting rotation of the Washington Nationals. Let’s be honest, this one-game Wild-Card is a straight-up toss-up, and getting through that and then winning three play-off is baseball’s version of climbing Mount Everest.
Take the paragraph above, and in the first sentence replace the word “Yankees” with “Astros.” Then repklace every mention of the Rays with the A’s an it holds up.
New York Yankees
In what has become a shopworn theme this year, The Bronx Bombers haven’t been healthy all season and yet still managed to hit 306 homers on their way to winning over 100 games.
Watching the Twins on offense this season was like watching a Mike Tyson “greatest hits” tape of his pre-Buster Douglas knockouts. Any team which hit 307 regular season bombs is dangerous in any series, but I just don’t trust their pitching.
In poker, you can beat three aces, and you can even do it in baseball, but the odds are a lot longer. The get longer still when two of those aces racked up 300 Ks and are backed up by a line-up full of guys who could all either slam 25 dingers, hit .300, and/or swipe 20 sacks. Like the commercials say…but wait, there’s more! The Astros also have a lock-down bullpen and a manager who is the real deal come post-season play. In other words, Houston does not have a problem.
Boston Red Sox
The 2019 season for the Boston Red Sox was an exercise in what might have been. On paper coming into the season, the Red Sox seemed to be every bit the solid squad as were the Astros. But as goes the old trope, that’s why we play the games. The ingredients were there, but the cake never baked.
This all depends on which Brewer team shows up. Will it be the team tht coudln’t stop shooting itself in the foot for a good part of the summer, or will it be the team that won 18 of 20 in September?
Every horse race has that one horse which pulls wide and makes a huge move late. That horse was the Washington Nationals. Now that we are in October, that means if there’s a team which could make a run all the way from the Wild Card, it’s Washington. Anything is possible with that rotation…assuming they win the Wild Card game tonight, they come back with Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin would work Games 1 and 2 in Dodger Stadium before the Nats return home with Max Scherzer in Game 3. Tell me that doesn’t say anything is possible when you can run out three starters of that caliber.
There’s a lot to like about the Braves. They have a line-up featuring a dangerous combination of power and speed, and Ronald Acuna, Jr. isn’t far from being the best all-around player in the game. Atlanta has an ace in Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz has figured it out, and Dallas Keuchel provides the staff’s playoff veteran. Despite that, the bullpen is simply not dependable. I’m not sure this team is ready to win a World Series quite yet, but they aren’t far from it,
St. Louis Cardinals
Let’s be honest. The Cardinals are the third-best team in an inferior league. They won the NL Central by default because Brewers spent a good part of the summer shooting their own foot and the Cubs spent tow season being under-achievers under Joe Maddon. As for the Cardinals themselves, they only have one reliable starter, a mostly unreliable bullpen, and an offense languishin in the bottom half of the National League in almost category that matters.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Don’t let the fact the National League isn’t nearly as good as the American league fool you. The Dodgers are the real deal. The questions on them remains can the starting rotation cover the deficiencies in the bullpen and will the Dodgers cast of “gawdy regular-season numbers guys” produce when it matters?
11) Chicago Cubs
Let’s just keep this short and sweet. The Cubs had a five game lead on Labor Day, and they are calling for tee times today. If that doesn’t say “spit the bit,” I don’t know what does.
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Nicely done, sir.
You’re two-for-two so far.
And kudos to MLB for finally getting me to watch two back-to-back games.
Here’s to a good post-season.