I love baseball, but this post-season has been one long snooze-fest. Four sweeps, one near-sweep. Boston has forced a sixth game and could come back to take the series after being down 3-1. But even then, the post-season has been dull for those of us who live below an altitude of 5,280 feet.
I wanted to check just how boring 2007 was turning out so I devised a quick and dirty way to rank the post-seasons. It works like this:
It’s arbitary, I know. It gives the same weight to an 18-inning game as a 10-inning game. It weights early rallies as much as late ones. It doesn’t account for runners left on base, which is why Game 7 of the 1991 World Series comes in at only 2.50. It weights an exciting game one as much as an exciting game seven. It doesn’t care if a team has come back from being down 3-0.
In other words, it’s quick and dirty.
I’m not really looking to rank the greatest game in baseball history. What I’m looking for are series — and post-seasons full of series — that go the distance with lots of exciting close games. And I don’t have the computer resources to do a more thorough job. This one can be calculated just by looking at the line score.
The most exciting post-season in the wild-card era was 2003. 2003 was also, not coincidentally, the most heart-breaking. This was the year we were five outs away from a Red Sox-Cubs series and lost it. But every series that year was great. In the ALDS, the Red Sox came back from an 0-2 deficit to beat the Athletics while the Yankees fought out a tough series against the Twins. The Braves and Cubs went five games while Florida took the Giants when a runner was thrown out at home. We had two thrilling seven-game LCSs followed by the Marlins’ stunning upset of the Yankees. With a post-season score of 74.12, the 2003 season is way ahead of the competition. Let me put it this way, you could take the second most-exciting post-season, 1995, add this year’s NLCS, and still fall short.
The most exciting series was the 2001 World Series at 16.06. I would agree. I only did the wild card era, but checked the 1991 World Series just to make sure it was still better. It came in at 17.24, without any bonuses for worst-to-first or Jack Morris.
Special mention should be made of the 1995 ALDS series between the Mariners and the Yankees. With an excitement score of 13.09, it was, game-for-game, the most exciting series of the wild card era. In fact, only ten seven-game series have had a higher score.
The most exciting game was game 2 of the 1997 NLDS between the Giants and Marlins. It featured no less than eight lead changes and the Marlins won in their last at-bat. This was a good game, but its top ranking is a fluke of the system – it doesn’t weight winner-take-all games more heavily. Second place would be game 2 of the 2004 Yanks-Twins series, which had seven lead changes and was won with a 2-run rally in the bottom of the 12th.
The most-exciting winner-take-all game was Game Five of 1995 ALDS between the Yanks and Mariners while the best Game Seven was in the 2001 World Series. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. If I had to pick one game from the wild card era as the best, it would probably be that 1995 ALDS Game Five. Not only does it have the highest score (3.7), but it was incredibly dramatic, had great personalities and the good guys won (for once!).
The most boring game of the wild card era was game seven of the 1996 NLCS. The Braves wiped the Cardinals out with a big first inning on the way to a 15-0 route. I would quibble here as that was the cap of a 3-1 comeback by my team. Game five of that series – a 14-0 route, comes in as the second most boring.
The most boring series of the wild card era was the 2005 NLDS between the Cardinal and Padres. The Cards never trailed and won big each game.
The most boring post-season was last year’s. It scored 47.94. It featured one of the most boring seven-game NLCS series ever between the Mets and Cards. There were four sweeps and two more ALDS series ended after four games. Not a single game scored a 3.
So how is this year looking? Bad. The series have scored at 4.79, 6.96, 4.60, 5.50, 8.38 and 8.50 for the ALCS (so far). That’s 38.73 and includes three of the thirteen most boring series in the wild card era (that’s out of 90 series).
However, it seems quite likely that 2007 will be better than 2006. We have at least five more games to go and given an average game score (1.9), even if the Indians take game six and the World Series is a sweep, we will match 2006 in excitement. But it will take a classic finish in Boston and a great World Series to even get to the low excitement levels of 1998 and 2000.
Here are the scores for each year:
1995 – 66.20
1996 – 62.06
1997 – 66.86
1998 – 53.07 (all-time great teams make boring playoffs)
1999 – 60.83
2000 – 56.35 (subway series; ugh)
2001 – 62.13
2002 – 61.48
2003 – 74.12 (WOW!)
2004 – 65.42
2005 – 57.37
2006 – 47.94 (snooze)
2007 – 38.73 (through game five of ALCS)