The Baltimore Orioles made a serious bid to earn a wild card spot in the 2022 postseason. That much we know. But what would have happened had they made it? Could a clue or two lie in how the playoffs have unfolded thus far?
The answer is NO. We can’t give a real response to that question. But what we can say is that the teams who received a bye in the wild card round, didn’t faire too well. Los Angeles, St. Louis, and the New York Mets were all eliminated. The New York Yankees had to go to an elimination game (today) in order to advance, and they at times looked lackadaisical in having to do so. (Houston advanced in a series sweep.)
Instead, Philadelphia and San Diego went from the regular season to the wild card round, and are now in the NLCS. Cleveland did the same thing but lost out after taking New York to the brink. There’s something to this.
The regular season ended on a Wednesday, and the postseason didn’t start for many of these teams until the following Tuesday. Save for the all-star break, that amount of time off is unheard of for a baseball team. The real question is did it affect momentum?
The results, at least for this year, indicate that they did. And IF that’s true…the fact is that momentum means A LOT. In any sport. How often do we hear about NFL coaches like Bill Belichek say they don’t like to take their foot off the gas? The argument FOR running up the score in essence is because it’s tough to turn it back on once it’s been turned off. In other words, MOMENTUM is key.
I’m in favor of the new playoff format. I think it allows good teams to make the postseason, while offering what appears to be a clear benefit to teams who win their divisions with better records. The question however is how clear an advantage is it? I don’t see MLB tinkering with the format to make the lower seeds get a bye – or anything like that. But the early stages of the 2022 postseason would indicate that it might be better to just keep on playing coming out of the regular season. However for all we know, next year might yield different results.
So how would the O’s have faired had they made the playoffs? I tend to think they would have gone to an elimination game in the wild card round and now out. Basically dropping two-of-three. They would have lost with dignity without a doubt, and there would have been no shame in that. Heck, there was no shame in how the season ended in the true reality. However the success of teams like Cleveland, Seattle, and Philadelphia should make Orioles fans yearn for 2023. And it should be a stark reminder that while “big mo” matters, hope always springs eternal.