For whatever reason, a bizarre mentality that the Dodgers are an unstoppable force has been gaining momentum. After the Phillies were swept by the Dodgers, all we seemed to hear about for the next week was how “far away” the team is from competing for a World Series. There seems to be this notion that the Dodgers are essentially the “golden state of baseball” and it makes absolutely no sense.
Taking two of three from the Brewers and just about taking three of four from the Cubs may as well have not even happened. The mentality from many seemed to be “oh well, we’ll get em’ next year” and I flat out don’t understand that.
Are the Dodgers a great team? Absolutely. Are they the best team in the National League? The standings say yes and on paper, the answer has gotta be yes again. The Dodgers are certainly a powerhouse – a team that has won six consecutive NL West titles and gone to back to back World Series, but nobody is invincible in baseball.
I really don’t know where this mentality came from but it does seem like an NBA line of thinking. Until this year, the NBA Finals could be predicted during summer league. This year it was mostly Boston and Golden State and as I’m sure you’re aware, that was half right. The Warriors are a lock for the finals every year with their current lineup and their opponent in the semi-finals can usually be predicted as well.
Basketball is a sport where there are clear tiers to the best teams while average clubs are out of luck. Football also, though not always, is a sport where playoff momentum and overall talent is a huge factor.
Baseball is different. An MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. An MLB team that wins their division was good through 162 games and had to beat several good teams to get there. It is fair to say that every team qualifying for the MLB post-season has a legitimate shot at a World Series every year.
Just look at the 2018 Brewers for example. They weren’t even a consensus NL Central favorite yet came a game away from the World Series. Yes it mattered that Christian Yelich reached his potential, but ultimately the Brewers were about as good as anyone that made the playoffs. The Dodgers won, but it isn’t like the absolute clown show that is the Western Conference playoffs every year. Golden State can cake walk to the finals where as the Dodgers have to battle to get there.
The Wild Card Game Gives An Edge To The Dodgers, But It Isn’t Insurmountable
Now, the Wild Card game is certainly a factor. A one-game playoff forces the Wild Card team to use their ace – sometimes their two best starters – just to get to the division series. It gives a greater advantage to the team with the best regular season record, which would be the Dodgers. However, even the one-game playoff era has seen underdog teams go on runs. Yes the one-game playoff gives an edge to the Dodgers, but again, nothing conclusive.
So what gives with this mentality? The Phillies currently have the second best record in the National League yet the sentiment seems to be that this team is toast. Do they have holes? Absolutely, perhaps too many. They could easily fall short in their World Series quest this year but they are far, far from out of it.
Weaker rotations than the Phillies have won World Series titles. The Dodgers may be a great team, but they aren’t some unstoppable Goliath.
The Phillies have a defining stretch of games against NL East opponents coming up, mostly against teams not in Miami. Barring an absolute meltdown during that stretch, the Phillies will be in the market at the deadline. Even if they don’t target a big name pitcher like Stroman, they could still pick up a veteran option like Mike Fiers for a reasonable price. Basically, they can shore-up the existing team easily without mortgaging the future. Rebuilding teams are foolish to hold on to veterans on expiring contracts and as a result, a very high percentage of them are dealt.
If the Phillies are in it, they’ll improve the team.
Plus, can we all just remember that this is the first time the Phillies have truly been in contention since 2012? They have as good a chance as anybody at going on a run and we don’t know what will happen to the Dodgers between now and September. LA may be great, but this isn’t basketball and they aren’t the Warriors.
Just relax people, relax and enjoy it.