The Shot Heard Round The World…With Bud Selig

An article by posted on October 28, 2011

There are many people who believe that playing a full season of games and being successful is harder than winning say, a 5 game series in the LDS. I am one of those people. However, I don’t discount the playoffs. I just think they are designed for great theater and when 8 teams get in, realistically every team in the playoffs has a chance to be the World Series champion.

Do we all think in 2006 the St. Louis Cardinals with 83 wins were the best team in Major League Baseball? I doubt it, but they did win the World Series which trumps it all and rightfully so.

I wanted to share with you a story written by a friend. It’s intended solely for entertainment purposes and a reflection on how little importance is put on the regular season in today’s game, and how that would have impacted one of the greatest moments in baseball history.

Reality:

The Giants came back from 13.5 games back to tie it all up in the NL with the Dodgers inside the last 50 games, setting up real actual drama in games that mattered. It was for all the marbles. We still talk about the 1951 season because of it. It is part of baseball lore. Bobby Thomson’s name is still known by everyone for this one home run he hit.

Actual standings (at the end of the scheduled season):

96 – 58  NYG   –

96 – 58  BRO   –

81 – 73  StL    15

76 – 78  BOS  20

73 – 81  PHI    23

68 – 86  CIN    28

64 – 90  PIT    32

62 – 92  CHI    34

Under a Selig regime, it may have looked like this:

First off, he would have divisions. East and West. That way he could have two ‘champions’ and make money off a ‘playoff’ after the season. Then he would let in additional teams, because 154 games was not enough to tell us that the Giants and Dodgers were better than loser teams behind them.

Selig world:

NL East:

96 – 58  NYG   –

96 – 58  BRO   –

76 – 78  BOS  20

73 – 81  PHI    23

NL West

81 – 73  StL    15

68 – 86  CIN    28

64 – 90  PIT    32

62 – 92  CHI    34

Since Brooklyn and the giants would not face each other in a first round, they would play the other division’s teams. The giants would face the NL West’s 2nd place team, and Brooklyn would face the NL West winner.

The big race that season, under Bud Selig would be the fascinating race for 2nd place in the NL West between the Reds, Pirates and Cubbies. Who would become the best loser team in the NL West?? Pins and needles!

The Giants and Dodgers had wrapped up the spots in the NL East long ago. On July 15, Cincy had a 5.5 game lead over the Cubs and a 9.0 game lead over the Pirates. It looked like they were cruising to a playoff spot behind the powerful Cardinals of Musial. But on September 1, a fade by the Reds and a hard-charging Pirates made the wildcard standings look like this:

55 – 74  PIT     –

54 – 74  CIN  0.5

53 – 73  CHI  0.5

Thrilling! Here we are in September, and there is a three-way face for the championship of second place in the NL West! No wonder 1951 lives on in infamy. People would not stop talking about the great Pittsburgh rally of 1951. The Giants were rallying to catch the Dodgers in the NL East, but that didn’t matter at all since both teams would be making the playoffs. It was really just for home-field advantage.

History shows us the grit that Cincy displayed in vanquishing the Cubs and Pirates. Such fortitude. They would go on to face the Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Brooklyn would take on the tough Cardinals. Selig decided that three games would not be enough to determine a winner in these mini-series. They would play five games instead. Two more potential games to generate revenue. 

AWESOME! Fans will LOVE IT.

NY GIANTS v CINCINNATI REDS

The Reds were coming off an emotional high, having defeated Pittsburgh and Chicago to claim a playoff spot. The Giants last important games was sometime in August. Sure, they took the top spot in the East and wrapped up the home field advantage, but they were never really pushed hard after July.

The Reds carried this fire into this series and won the first game in the Polo Grounds. NY salvaged the second game, before heading to Cincy. Cincy stunned the Giants in two there to take the series, 3-1. The Reds’ duo of Raffensberger and Blackwell won 32 of the team’s 68 games that season, and they started four of the five playoff games. Good thing, as their next best starter was Howie Fox at 9-14. In playoff baseball, two pitchers can pitch 80% of the starts in a min-series!

BROOKLYN DODGERS v StL CARDINALS

The Cardinals malaise from dominating the NL West was evident in their 3-0 sweep loss to the mighty Dodgers. They had defeated the Reds by 13 games after all. The Cardinals just never got going. The Dodgers were playing with a chip on their shoulder after snoring through the summer. The loss of the home field advantage was just gutting to them.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

BROOKLYN DODGERS v CINCINNATI REDS

The gutty little Reds gave it their all, but they were no match for the NL East losers. The talent levels were just too vast. Selig had decided to make this mini-series seven games to give it more weight (wink wink). He was kicking himself when the Dodgers won it in five, though. He missed out on two more games of massive revenue.

BROOKLYN DODGERS – 1951 WORLD CHAMPIONS!!! (and NL East runners-up)

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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