Of Play-In Games and Other Winner Take All Death Matches
two teams enter, one team leaves Dept.


Q.  A Mariner suit once publicly declined to input July talent since it was "just a one game playoff" anyway.  Does this make sense?

A.  Could be.  

But in 2001, the Yankee-Diamondback Game Seven was just one game, Clemens against Schilling with the Big Unit and Mo Rivera coming out of the bullpen.  In 1991, the last game of the Serious was the ten-inning shutout by Jack Morris 1-0, just one game.  Personally when I think of "just one game" I think of the Broncos chat boards right before 43 to 8.

Why not think of a Yankee-Mariner playoff game as though --- > we'd each won three, and were fast-forwarding to Game Seven?  ... I guess the main reason would be that you hadn't taken the six games of gate receipts, no snark intended.  Because as a general concept, a "winner moves on" playoff game is usually considered more good than bad.  ... ?


Q.  If they were up a couple of games in late September, do you think the Mariners actually would massage their rotation so Paxton threw the Bronx game?

A.  I dunno.  Jerry Dipoto is a big, big fan of "veteran poise."  He might very well commune with Servais and conclude that King Felix' demeanor was the way to go.  It would be easy for them to imagine Paxton having a panic attack under the brightest lights of all.

Then again, if Paxton goes like 14-1, 1.41 over the last three months they might waver a little bit.


Q.  Is a short series unfair to the team with the Cy Young pitcher?

A.  There might be some newbies here who have read for only, say, fifteen years or so.  For their benefit, the signature "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid" tagline comes from the year 1995.  John Hart had put together a truly epic team in Cleveland ... but as the season wound down he became utterly terrified of a 5-game series against the Mariners in which Randy Johnson shut them out twice.  Hart actually lobbied the Commissioner for a change of rules, any change of rules, a Wilt Chamberlain Widen the Lane change of rules, to protect a 110-win team from getting bounced by one great pitcher.

I think that Aircraft Carrier starting pitchers are great.

Teams that DO manage to create a planet-busting SP should benefit from them.  ... No, not an "automatic championship," but some kind of thumb on the scale.  If I'm king, the major leagues DO funnel the roster strategy into rewarding teams that succeed in acquiring the Red Properties of a 1+ ERA pitcher.

The NBA thinks it's cool to show TV games with dazzling talents.  SSI thinks it's cool when Madison Bumgarner or Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson carry their teams to championships.


Q.  Do you think baseball teams ... well, the Mariners team at any rate ... can get past the mantra, "Play the games one at a time after you put your pants on one leg at a time"?

A.  NFL teams and NBA teams cheerfully sacrifice reg-season games to arrange their playoff situations.  Baseball's behind the curve on this one.

The competition is weak for the #2 wild card spot.  James Paxton is way, WAY better than any other Mariner starting pitcher.  Their plotline should be to get 2-3 games up the last week and then get Paxton into the Bronx game.

At least, that's the plotline this fan will be following.  A Wild Card game can be a cheap one-off, or it can be a way to exploit your advantage if you've developed a great pitcher.  Let's see if the Mariners are game.





On the concept of aircraft carriers...

In 1957, the Braves marched into the Series behind Warren Spahn, 21-11, 130 ERA+.

But Lou Burdette, 17-9, 94, won three games.

In 1968, the Tigers' stud was Denny McLain, 31-6, 154.

But Mickey Lolich, 17-9, 95, scored the Series hat trick.

Oh, to have Felix join that club.  


After we utterly failed to get Ichiro any kind of real playoff career in Seattle, I'm dying to see Felix at least end on the right note. If we make it there, I bet you anything he turns on a switch even he didn't know he had.


He's been such a loyal trooper and through such lean times.  Like somebody once told Greg Norman "fate owes you one," the Shark replying "No, fate owes me about five of them."


The spirit is willing but the shoulder is a little weak.  Dunno if Felix has it in him to hit a Michael Jordan extra gear, but it would be nice to find out.


As fun as that narrative is, Doc, I simply can't imagine a scenario where the Ms have that kind of lead heading into the final week. Sure it's mathematically possible, but these are the Mariners. I'm going to assume that we need Paxton to pitch the "play in game" in 162, and then if by some miracle we squeak into the playoffs, we'll be stuck with Ariel Miranda throwing BP to Da Judge. Boy would I love to be wrong...


After 110 games of frustration and "underperformance" as Dipoto put it.  Not easy to visualize the M's taking command.  Agreed.

Would sure be nice, though ... it's just the Rays and Royals and we would only need 2-3 games probably, to hold back K-Pax from a game-160 start ...  even if you were risking the WC slot in the last three days, I would still pay that tab in order to reap the benefits of Paxton in the WC game.  

Not that the M's would even go there.  But it's something I'll be watching :- )


Yeah, that's probably the right percentage play. Y'know, if the goal is to maximize your chances to win a World Series.

OTOH, I can't imagine the Ms brass would jeopardize a trip to the playoffs in the first place. How bad would it look if we miss'em by a game, while trying to keep our lightning bolts dry for the play-in game. For a team that has the longest playoff drought in baseball, it could get some people fired...


...if we DO get to the play-in game and lose it, is that much better?

These days, your 'playoff run' can end in one stinkin' game. Used to be you were guaranteed three, and if you got swept at least you knew you had three chances to win one.

Can you imagine the fan reaction? "We went to the playoffs, you guys!" "(censored)" Does Seattle really feel like they're not the team with the longest time out of the playoffs at that point... or do they feel their existential angst is just going to be underappreciated now because they got to trip on their face for one game in NY?

In some ways I think you HAVE to have Paxton for the WC game... or, Lord forbid, Game 163. (shudder) In that case you need a miracle.

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