Dutch Lion’s 2021 MLB Playoffs Preview
Welcome to the 2021 MLB Playoffs! I love October and baseball is one of the many reasons why. Of course, in my plan for restructuring Baseball, I would move the Playoffs up to August where the national pastime could be the main focus of the sporting world in the slow and lazy dog days of Summer. That argument is for another time. Meanwhile, let’s celebrate Baseball for what it is, the culmination of six months of magical competition. Where the day-in, day-out slog turns into a helter skelter of huge meaningful games.
Outside of the timing of the season, another thing Baseball gets wrong is the playoff format. These one-game “play-in” games, otherwise known as “wild card” games have got to be changed. How does a team play 162 games, “qualify” for the “playoffs” with a 106-56 record, and then only get rewarded with the home-game advantage for a one-game, anything-could-happen, winner-take-all entrance into the real postseason? Only in Baseball, right?
The Wild Card games over the last two nights were definitely exciting, but c’mon man. The main philosophy of Baseball, that nothing is decided in one day, that as long as you keep grinding everything will be alright, that depth of your roster, especially the starting rotation, will be the keys to success in the LONG RUN, really goes out the window. All of a sudden (back in 2012 when this insane system was installed) the big-wigs in the MLB offices in New York City decided to make Wild Card qualifiers play a one-game “tiebreaker” if you will, as a play-in to even get INTO the Playoffs. I just don’t understand. The problem with this system is we get what we had here this week.
The Los Angeles Dodgers had the greatest second-place record of all-time at 106-56 behind the “where did that come from?” season by the San Francisco Giants who ended the Dodgers streak of eight straight division titles by winning 107 games. That left L.A. in the potentially disastrous spot of facing, and losing, to the 90 win St. Louis Cardinals and their master ace Adam Wainwright, who went 17-7 this year. How, and why, does a team that won 16 more games than their competitor have to beat them in a one game format, just to qualify/advance to the next round to face the 107 win Giants? It’s truly insane, right? The Dodgers finished second in Baseball this year out of 30 teams, won six more games than the 3rd-best team, and didn’t even make the Playoffs, which lets eight teams enter the Division Series round. Oh brother, it’s just too stupid to keep writing about. Luckily the Dodgers won last night on a game-winning walk-off HR by Chris Taylor to oust the Cardinals 3-1. Therefore, they DID qualify for the Playoffs. What Baseball does to these teams and fan-bases is almost tortuous.
For what it’s worth, we picked the Yankees and Dodgers in those two Wild-Card games but decided not to publish this Playoff Preview until we were entering the ALDS and NLDS Best-of-5 series. Now we can predict the field starting with the best-of-5 series and then proceed with the best-of-7 ALCS and NLCS, culminating with the best-of-7 World Series that will take place in SoFi Stadium. Just kidding. (The World Series is played in the two teams stadiums obviously but wouldn’t it be weird if it was a neutral site like the Rose Bowl or a big dome in the South like the way football does?)
American League Playoff Seeds
- Tampa Bay Rays (100-62)
- Houston Astros (95-67)
- Chicago White Sox (93-69)
- Boston Red Sox (92-70)
- New York Yankees (92-70) – ELIMINATED
American League Wild Card
#5 New York Yankees at #4 Boston Red Sox – One Game
Bucky Dent called. He wants his one game tiebreaker back. True story, once I was out golfing with my buddy Mike and we were set up in a foursome with two old guys. Turned out one of ’em was none other than ex-Red Sox (and Yankees and about 6 other teams) pitcher Mike Torrez. So I quietly tell my friend Mike about who Mike Torrez was and why he is somewhat infamous. So we proceeded to golf and have a few drinks, you know. So then all of a sudden on the back nine my buddy Mike shouts out “Bucky Dent!” Oh no! Luckily Mr. Torrez was cool with it. He didn’t go ballistic or lose it or anything. He could have. He didn’t. He was a great guy. Classy. Weirder still, Mike had also met Mr. Torrez’s daughter Christiann once at a pool in Las Vegas. This is all true. No joke.
Boston won 6-2 and will face the #1 seeded Rays.
American League Division Series (ALDS) – Best of 5
#4 Boston Red Sox at #1 Tampa Bay Rays – I don’t know why the Rays are so consistently good over the last few years, but they are. It’s about time we give them credit. Tampa Bay never looks that great on paper, but they are indeed a solid team. They play team baseball with young, underpaid ballplayers. Tampa lets their stars walk before they overpay for them. Instead, they let their competitors overpay for those players while they get their minor leaguers up to the big leagues, where somehow they succeed. The Rays won 100 games in a tough division and earned the #1 seed. Their stadium stinks and their fanbase sucks but the Rays don’t seem to care. They just win. PICK: Rays in 4 games
#3 Chicago White Sox at #2 Houston Astros – In case you didn’t know, the “Dutch Lion” is a huge ChiSox fan since 1982. Therefore, the bias in inherent. Both of “Dutch Lion’s” parents were Southside Sox fans since the 1950s. In fact, “Dutch’s” mom was at Game 6 in 1959 at the old Comiskey Park. Oh how long the Sox fans have been waiting for postseason action, especially at home at Sox Park. There have been zero home playoff games since 2008 against…. Tampa. In this series, the Sox face the playoff experienced Astros. Houston has the home-field advantage, which means Chicago must win at least one game on the road in Houston at Minute Maid Park. Here’s to that happening. PICK: White Sox in 5 games
American League Championship Series (ALCS) – Best of 7
#3 Chicago White Sox at #1 Tampa Bay Rays – As much as we love this White Sox group, they are only just beginning their “Decade of Dominance”. Last year was a quick exit in three games (best of 3) against the Oakland A’s. This year could be a series win over the Houston Astros. However, the train stops here as Tampa has the home-field advantage which is important since the Sox never seem to play well down at Tropicana Field in Tampa. The Rays want to get back to the World Series as they lost to the L.A. Dodgers last year in the COVID Series played at the Texas Rangers new stadium called Globe Life Field. Can they get revenge? PICK Rays in 6 games
National League Playoff Seeds
- San Francisco Giants (107-55)
- Milwaukee Brewers (95-67)
- Atlanta Braves (88-73)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56)
- St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) – ELIMINATED
The Dodgers won 3-1 over the Cardinals to avoid the ignominy of winning 106 but then losing 1 when it counts.
National League Division Series (NLDS) – Best of 5
#4 Los Angeles Dodgers at #1 San Francisco Giants – This could be the series of the season, but it’s a shame that it takes place in the NLDS which is only a Best-of-5 format. In the preseason we picked the Dodgers to face the Yankees in an old-fashioned New York vs Brooklyn battle in a throwback World Series. Now that the Yanks have been eliminated, that can’t happen. However, “Dutch Lion” might be right, in a roundabout way. It’s gonna be New York vs Brooklyn, but instead of the Yankees it will be the old New York Giants. Don’t forget this modern rivalry on the West Coast used to take place on the East Coast. The New York Giants/Brooklyn Dodgers rivalry has always been huge, going back over a century. Having never played each other in the postseason, the most famous moment in this rivalry was in the 1951 National League tiebreaker Best-of-3 series. Could we have another Bobby Thomson walk-off home run? Lightning never strikes twice. Or does it? PICK: Dodgers in 5 games
#3 Atlanta Braves at #2 Milwaukee Brewers – Similar to the American League’s #2 vs #3 matchup, this is a close series that could go either way. Atlanta is so good but a bit underachieving this year. Of course, Ronald Acuna was injured a long time ago and they still won the NL East. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is a bit overachieving. They coasted to the NL Central crown. Only when St. Louis had their late season 17 game winning streak did the Brewers even feel threatened. Overall, the Brewers great pitching staff and their manager Craig Counsell will be the difference. Counsell is one of the best in the game. PICK: Brewers in 5 games
National League Championship Series (NLCS) – Best of 7
#4 Los Angeles Dodgers at #2 Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee is a solid team with pitching galore. Ultimately I’m sticking with my preseason selection of the Dodgers winning the National League. Brewers reliever Devin Williams’ recent injury won’t help. Overall, the Dodgers lineup and roster is just too good for anyone to beat, including Milwaukee. PICK: Dodgers in 6 games
2021 World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Tampa Bay Rays
The Los Angeles Dodgers are simply the class of baseball. This franchise had won eight straight division titles prior to this year. They should have won the division again, just like they should have won more than one World Series Championship. For such a dominant team, the Dodgers should have won more rings by now. Now’s the time to make up some ground. We expect the Dodgers to beat the Rays, again. This rematch will turn out the same as last year, with Randy Newman’s “I love L.A.” cranking throughout Dodger Stadium. PICK: L.A. Dodgers in 6 games.