Sweet(s) Talk. … Watered down playoff baseball; a ‘COVID’ season

The 2020 Major League Baseball regular season has come and gone. Sixty games, 102 less than normal. Sixteen playoff teams, eight per league, up from the most recent 10 with five from each league.

To say that I feel it’s too watered down with that many teams in the playoff field is an understatement. I am a traditionalist, back when I was growing up through the 1980s and 1990s, teams had to work their tails off to make the postseason.

This year, two teams with losing records made the postseason, one in each league, with the National League team being my Milwaukee Brewers. Though, the Houston Astros the American League squad that made the playoffs with a losing record, has already eliminated the Minnesota Twins in two games, both played at Target Field in Minneapolis.

I am certainly not going to throw a parade for the Astros, after the way they disgraced the sport with their sign stealing, so in regards to that series I will point out that the Twins extended their franchise post season losing streak to 18 games with Wednesday afternoon’s loss, and leave it at that.

As for my Brewers, it was pointed out to me by fellow Brewer fan David Alexa of Loretto, that the NL Central Division had the lowest combined batting average in all of baseball this season. St. Louis led with .234, with Milwaukee at .223, the Cubs at .220, the Pirates at .220 and Cincinnati at .212. Yet, four of those five teams made the playoffs with the expanded field — the most of any one division in baseball. That would tell this writer that perhaps the pitching in that division was very strong this season. Each team except Pittsburgh had a one-two punch in their starting rotation, or deeper. There are two NL CY Young award candidates in the division as well. Corbin Burnes of Milwaukee and Yu Darvish of the Cubs. We shall see how the four teams fare in the playoffs. ..

Speaking of Yu Darvish and how teams are going to fare in the playoffs, the Cubs got gut-punched Wednesday afternoon by the Miami Marlins. Yes, the same Miami Marlins who lost 105 games in 2019. The same Miami (then Florida) Marlins who eliminated the Cubs from the 2003 NL Championship Series and advanced to win the World Series. With Wednesday’s 5-1 loss, the Cubs are facing elimination and are giving the ball to Darvish this afternoon. He’s had a sensational season and first year manager David Ross is playing his cards correctly in my opinion, putting Darvish on the hill for the crucial game.

After all, Darvish has finally come around and is pitching like the Cubs were hoping he would when they paid him money to purchase the Mackinac and Golden Gate bridges a couple of years ago. On the same note, one of the few tolerable Cubs fans in the United States of America, John Canavera of East Kingsford, constructively told me “The Brewers don’t belong in the playoffs with a losing record and a negative run differential for the season.” Well perhaps he is right, but it doesn’t appear thus far that his team belongs in the playoffs, either. …

The coronavirus sure has thrown a wrench into a lot of things, especially some people’s everyday lives. From my vantage point as your sports scribe, the youth in the area sure seem to be happy and grateful simply to be able to participate in fall sports. I am not going to get on a soap box about the safety or lack thereof of playing during this current time in our state and country.

To each his own as far as one’s opinion on the risks. There’s information out there supporting the topic on either side of the fence you may sit on. But I will say that from the events that I have covered so far this fall, there is a different aura and atmosphere in the student athletes this fall.

Gratitude, it’s oozing out of the players and coaches. It’s making for better sportsmanship, a more laid-back atmosphere surrounding the given sports, even the at-times intense and always emotional game of football. I think in a sense, the “we’re happy to be playing” feeling has come above all things, even possibly without anyone involved realizing it.

For however long any of the current prep sports seasons get to continue with the rising number of positive virus cases throughout the U.P. and nearby Wisconsin counties, I hope I continue to feel the same aura in my interactions with the various teams, schools and communities. Then at the end of the day, we can point to something positive that came out this unprecedented period in our country’s history. …

Stay safe and healthy, ladies and gentlemen. Please continue to social distance and keep others’ safety in mind as well. We’re in this pandemic together whether we realize it or not.


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