Welcome to the MLB Playoffs! After one of the craziest seasons in memory due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this season was shortened to 60 games and the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams (8 in both the National and American Leagues). The St. Louis Cardinals along with the Miami Marlins both had players test positive for COVID-19 meaning that both teams had to engage in large amounts of doubleheaders to reach 60 games. Both teams made the playoffs. Three teams that have not made the playoffs in over a decade, the Marlins (2003), Padres (2006), and White Sox (2008) ended long playoff droughts to qualify for the expanded post-season. The Marlins will be putting their undefeated playoff record, 6-0, on the line during this postseason (They won the World Series during their only two franchise appearances in 1997 and 2003). Despite this, the expanded playoff format reveals that the MLB should not expand their playoff system past ten teams during a normal season. Too many mediocre teams have qualified for the playoffs. Milwaukee, Houston, and St. Louis were unimpressive teams that stumbled their way into the playoffs over the last few days. Other teams like the Cincinnati Reds got hot at the end of the year and slid into the playoffs with a realistic chance of advancing.
Since the first round of the playoffs is a Best of 3 series, upsets will likely happen. But as the playoffs expand to Best of 5 and Best of 7 for the later rounds, the chances of a ‘surprise’ occurring becomes less probable. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to win the NL pennant. If they survive the Wild Card Round and NLDS, it is going to be increasingly difficult to oust them in the later rounds. Atlanta, Chicago, and San Diego have a puncher’s chance to knock Los Angeles out. But it is going to require everything falling into place like it did for the Washington Nationals last year.
In the American League, the top 8 teams (Minus the Astros) are more competitive. Every team has a realistic chance to advance through the Wild Card round into the ALDS. It will not surprise me if Tampa Bay, the Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins or Oakland Athletics represent the American League in the World Series. It feels this wide open.
Before I lay down my incredibly pointless predictions (Don’t go to Las Vegas and lay money down on this analysis), I want to congratulate my San Diego Padres for ending 14 years of misery. Since they lost their 163rd game tiebreaker to the eventual NL champion Colorado Rockies in 2007 and their manager Bruce Bochy left to lead the San Francisco Giants to three World Series titles, the Padres have been mostly mediocre at best and terrible at worst. Other than a surprising 90-win season in 2010, the Padres have not won more than 76 games in any season since 2007. During this recent buildup of the farm systems with youth and the addition of veterans like Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado, the Padres look like a team that could contend for the NL pennant for the next few years if they can manage to keep the team together. Even with a spate of injuries to their starting pitching, a NLDS matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers looks inevitable. Here are my predictions.
NL Wild Card
L.A. Dodgers sweep Milwaukee 2-0
San Diego Padres defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1
Chicago Cubs defeat the Miami Marlins 2-1
UPSET: Cincinnati Reds defeat the Atlanta Braves 2-0
AL Wild Card
Tampa Bay Rays defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-0
UPSET: Cleveland Indians defeat the New York Yankees 2-1
Minnesota Twins sweep Houston 2-0
Oakland Athletics advance on a walk off hit against the Chicago White Sox 2-1 (If the White Sox win this series, I will not be surprised.)
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the San Diego Padres 3-1
Chicago Cubs defeat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2
UPSET: Cleveland Indians defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2
Oakland Athletics defeat the Minnesota Twins 3-2
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-1
Cleveland defeats Oakland 4-2
Los Angeles Dodgers win their 7th championship and first since 1988 in 6 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Enjoy the playoffs everyone!
This blog is going to be taking a break over the next few weeks. I am beginning the process of writing my first book. Details on this will be posted shortly. I am hoping for a 2021 release date. I will likely post photos related to my book on my website shortly.
Second, once I am done with my Master’s Class and my book writing trip, I am going to do at least a three-part series on Internet Security and Privacy. I am going to break this down into the three most common technological devices that every American uses: Part 1 on the Phone, Part 2 on the PC/Laptop, and Part 3 on the Browser. If there is a Part 4, that will focus on the data that corporations collect on you and how this information can be downloaded, monitored, or deleted. This is a topic that was brought to my attention again after I upgraded to a Pixel 4A phone this past week. It takes me usually between 8 – 10 hours to set up my phone with security and privacy applications. Am I paranoid? Maybe. But I would sacrifice my child to the devil to prevent getting another targeted ad.
Finally, I hope everyone is doing well. Here in California, we wake up to a sky that looks like the apocalypse every day. Since this issue has turned extremely political, I am not going to comment. I just hope everyone is safe even if the air that we are breathing is probably going to shorten our lives another year. Until next week!
On Thursday, the sport that has benefited from the COVID 19 lockdown more than any other, (the NFL), returns when the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs play the Houston Texans to begin the 2020 season. As the delayed NBA and NHL seasons are reaching their conclusions and the MLB is rapidly heading towards its 16-team playoff format, the sport that dominates the American consciousness returns when the people of this country need it the most. The next couple of paragraphs will be my evaluation of both conferences, my predictions (Which mean absolutely nothing) and a review of my Los Angeles Rams. Here we go!
For the handful of people who read my blog, this prediction is probably going to upset a few people. As my friends know, I despise the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and the Los Angeles…sorry…Oakland…sorry…Las Vegas Raiders. I am a believer in the Patriots’ system. Whether Belichick has achieved his six Super Bowl titles through legal means is a topic for another day. But I passionately believe that Tom Brady has regressed over the past three seasons. It was most evident in the Patriots Super Bowl victory over the Rams where if Jared Goff or Sean McVay could have come up with five successful plays, they would have won that Super Bowl. It became more evident last year as the Patriots ruined their great start and flamed out in the first round of the playoffs against Tennessee. The free agent signing of Cam Newton is “Huge” for New England. They will be better this season despite the massive number of players that opted out of the season. Cam had an offensive line problem in Carolina. Even during his best seasons, he always appeared to be running for his life. If the Patriots line can protect him just a little bit, I expect to see the elite Cam from four to five years ago rematerialize. Kansas City and Baltimore are still the favorites in the conference. But there are a few surprises that could make themselves known this season. I expect Tennessee to be anywhere between an 8-8 to 10-6 team again but find it unlikely that they will make the AFC Championship game again. Pittsburgh is likely to be much improved. With the playoffs now including 7 teams, I believe that Cleveland ends their playoff drought and 11 teams in the AFC will likely still be alive in Week 17. I apologize to Chiefs fans for my prediction in advance. I do believe that the Chiefs are set up to win multiple Super Bowls. But I feel that this season will end in an early playoff exit. So here we go with my AFC predictions!
Finally, I have to review my Los Angeles Rams. Coming off a horrible performance in Super Bowl LIII against the Patriots, the Rams were a missed field goal away against Seattle from being a wild card team during a step back 9-7 season. If the expanded 14 team playoff field existed in 2019, they would have been the final seed and played Green Bay in the first round (A very winnable game). Now that the team is over the Super Bowl hangover, a new defensive coordinator has an exceptional defensive line and a lockdown corner ready to go. Based on the effectiveness of his system, the Rams defense could be taking the step up that has been predicted for years or possibly a step back if the system does not coalesce with the talent around it. The linebackers continue to be the weakness of the team and why many teams have no problems running the ball against them. The offense is an interesting dilemma. McVay is going with a three running back rotation and is going to use the running game more to free up Goff for the timing throws and play action which he excels under. The offense may not reach the elite status that it did during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but it will not be as bad as 2019. The main concern revolves around the offensive line. With a bunch of starters that regressed last year along with a spate of injuries, it will be interesting to see if they can coalesce into an effective group and give Goff the time he needs and the running backs the space they require to control the clock.
I am going to make a couple of cultural recommendations for this week. One of the things that has fascinated me over the past 20 years has been what I believe is a lack of a unique “United States” cultural movement. Corporations have been providing us great television shows and films regarding superheroes and the streaming services have changed the game with film like presentations in their television series. Despite the tremendous amount of shows to consume, there is still a small fraction that are truly exceptional. The music industry has brought us a lot of talent but much of it feels artificially created or the artist exists to represent a specific genre. The comic book industry is consolidated, and the best stories have either all been converted or about to become their own film franchises. But the real problem is that a purely identifiable cultural movement that feels truly “American” has failed to materialize. Everything we enjoy is owned by one of the gigantic corporate conglomerates with a few exceptions like A24 films which has made some totally unique horror films over the past few years. Our corporations have taken control of our culture and the products they create are made for everyone. This means that the business model is for mostly unoffensive, ‘vanilla’ entertainment that discuss important political, cultural, and social issues in a simplistic manner.
There is a feeling among cultural analysts that our youth have no real purpose in their life. With languages dying every day, jobs being consolidated into fewer and fewer positions and record global unemployment, the continued consolidation of this world into a globalist type of government run by multinational corporations has accelerated during this COVID-19 pandemic. On the streets of the United States, you can see this in action with two opposing groups representing old ideologies which have already failed (Socialism and Nationalism) wherever they were instituted battling for the future of the country in our nation’s biggest cities. It maybe time to recognize that this country is going through a radical cultural, political, and social change and the end result is unknowable. Let us hope that this insanity ends before a civil war begins.
Here are three wonderful pieces of culture that I highly recommend. The first is an analysis of whether we have reached the end of the ‘liberalism’ period of human history where another political or cultural ideology will dominate (Global Corporate Governance?). Examples can be seen with the elections of people like Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Boris Johnson, and Narendra Modi in India who are openly rejecting the globalists and pushing their respective countries back into a protectionist form of nationalism. Is this the beginning of a new movement or the same old ideas?
What we are experiencing right now on our streets is the consequence of this lack of purpose or identity in many young people’s lives. When this happens, violent protest movements are soon to follow. Can this country survive this search for identity?
Finally, I have been researching my own philosophies since these riots and street protests began. I came across a book from the 19th Century called The Ego and Its Own. It was a form of individualist anarchist thought along the lines of libertarianism that promotes the idea that everyone acts and participates in society based around their own self-interest. It is a fascinating idea and I intend to dive deeper into this subject in the near future. Max Stirner also earns points because Karl Marx despised him. Just like today, the socialists and the libertarians just do not get along. Until next week!
EXPERT OF SOME