It took an extra day of the regular season, plus the usual wild-card games, but Major League Baseball’s division series have finally arrived. The National League is up first, on Thursday, with two Game 1s, but the most compelling matchups will be in the American League.
The difference between the leagues is stark: The Yankees won 100 games and still could not win the American League East. But in the National League, no team hit the century mark. It took only 90 wins for the Atlanta Braves to win the weak N.L. East. In any other year, the division series clashes between the Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians or the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox would suffice for a satisfying A.L. Championship Series.
Having the best regular-season record is often a curse, as it has often meant little in the playoffs. But last year, the Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers met in the World Series in a showdown of teams with two of the best three regular-season records. The year before, the Chicago Cubs claimed the best record and ended their 108-year World Series title drought.
This fall, could that mean a Red Sox-Milwaukee Brewers World Series?
We’ll see. Baseball is hard to predict….