For once, the system worked: the teams with the best records in the American and National Leagues are actually representing those circuits in the World Series.
That hasn’t happened since 1999, thanks to the endless rounds of playoffs that increase the odds that the best teams won’t reach the last round.
Until 1969, when divisional play began, the two pennant-winners went straight to the Fall Classic without passing GO or collecting $200.
Then arbitrary East/West divisions were created, forcing a best-of-five Championship Series.
In 1995, when a third division was added to each league, a fourth team had to be added to balance the playoff picture. That led to the wild-card, which was not even a championship team but the second-place team with the best record.
Just last year, a second wild-card team was approved for the postseason — forcing a sudden-death playoff just to determine the “real” wild-card winner.
That meant five teams in each 15-team league could continue past 162 games.
If one wild card was a bad idea — which it was — two compounded the problem. It also diluted the purity of the pennant races and threatened the integrity of the World Series.
But all this manipulation did accomplish one thing: it put more shekles into the coffers of the club owners. Remember that this winter when surprising signings and strange trades dominate the winter baseball news.
The only thing more puzzling than the retirement of Jim Leyland (Tigers) was the revelation that Don Mattingly (Dodgers) is also thinking of hanging them up. At least Dusty Baker, who wants to keep managing, could have two more openings . . .
If the Cardinals-Red Sox World Series goes a full seven games, conditions could be truly frigid at Fenway Park for Game 7, slated for Halloween . . .
Trade rumors surrounding All-Stars Max Scherzer (Tigers) and Brandon Phillips (Reds) would have more to do with their contracts rather than their performance . . .
Loved the October issue of Yankees Magazine with the retiring Andy Pettitte on the cover. The crafty lefty, who left with a record 19 postseason wins, never had a losing record.