It’s now generally accepted that playoff baseball is confusing. Given that every series is a week long at most, and it’s distilling down teams that have played for six months, everything is in bounds. Small moments like a pitching change here or a cutoff man missed there that would just be barely a bubble on the sea of a baseball season become big things in the playoffs because of the smaller sample size. Every baseball fan knows this and has accepted it, however they choose to judge the playoffs.
But it seems the L.A. Times can’t quite understand the difference.
First, on the cusp of eating it to the Padres, letters editor Paul Thornton called for the Dodgers to be simply awarded the World Series trophy, in so many words, and wailed about how unfair the playoff system is. The tweet and the headline grabbed most of the attention, but Thornton missed the point in saying that Dodgers fans are now more focused on winning than they were before. Which they’ve done plenty of, and in fact more than anyone else. If you revel in the Dodgers’ winning, this past decade has been Valhalla. You can’t say you need the Dodgers to win, deride the fairness of the playoff system, and then say it’s all left you flat. Either the playoffs mean nothing or everything, but not both.
Then today, Jack Harris, the paper’s Dodgers beat writer, did an incredibly deep dive into why the Dodgers lost in the NLDS that was something akin to the collapse of a local, if not state, government. While Harris certainly did his homework, the conclusion he basically comes to is that they didn’t hit for two and a half games.
And the Dodgers had plenty of stretches during the season where they didn’t hit for two-to-three games. Here are two: In a four-game stretch in June against the Giants and Angels, they scored six runs. In a three-game stretch in August against the Padres and Mets, they scored five. It’s a thing that happens. The idea that the Padres surprised the Dodgers by throwing more breaking pitches than fastballs isn’t really much of a discovery, or that the Dodgers have faced better pitching in playoffs past isn’t either. That’s kind of the idea of the playoffs, and that’s how those teams got there.
It does seem to defy logic how long the Dodgers have been so good and yet have only won one World Series to show for it, and it was the bastardized version of 2020. On some level, you can understand the urge to really CSI it to see if there’s some underlying mystery as to how this could be. But there isn’t. Sometimes you just roll snake eyes a lot. The next roll of the dice doesn’t really care, or is even aware, of the last one.
October doesn’t contain any tanking or woebegone teams for the Dodgers to beat up on, and if they played 162 games against only playoff teams being deployed in a playoff manner, they wouldn’t win 111 games either. There is no mythical explanation.
There is no secret sauce. There is no key to the universe. There is no equation. This is just how baseball works, even if it’s broken the brains of one of our institutional newspapers.
We see you, Aaron Rodgers
We’ve spent so much time on Tom Brady taking a flamethrower to his personal life so he could soak up some more public adulation while watching his team cough and wheeze to a sub .500 season that we haven’t given Aaron Rodgers’ “don’t look at me” act the usual attention. But in case you were wondering if Rodgers is under any impression that the Packers’ struggles have anything to do with him:
Rodgers has always wanted to be the GM, so it’s not too surprising that he wants to be the coach now, too. It must be great for young receivers trying to find their way in the league to have their QB telling the world they suck instead of working it through with them in private. That second tweet is the key there though, with Rodgers completely absolving himself of blame, even though he seemingly can’t throw the ball over five yards anymore.
But as long as he has his own personal bullhorn in Pat McAfee to bellow whatever comes into his mind as he huffs his own farts, Rodgers is free to tell everyone that it’s not his fault and his team isn’t worthy of him. Truly dignified stuff.