You have a new flare-up of Bradybetes today, as you suspected you would. NBC finished its week of religious programming with a football game that in all honesty was more an open-faced cheese sandwich on cinnamon raisin bread than proof that Tom Brady is still as Jesus as he ever was.
No, what you needed instead, and when I say you, I of course mean me, was baseball’s Six-Team Parlay Mardi Gras that Comrade Kalaf explained in sufficient detail in his opus, “How Baseball Killed Joy.” He described the way October collapsed before our very eyes, and you should read it again. You have nothing better to do today, you skiver; we’ve seen your schedule.
But it wasn’t just the American League that failed us, and when I say us, I again mean me, but the senior circuit as well. This was a full institutional failure on both sides of the aisle, and refreshed the essential truth that what the game needs is an Arnold Rothstein for the new century.
To review, we needed:
- Tampa Bay to beat the Yankees. Ninth-inning loser.
- Washington to beat Boston. Ninth-inning loser with oak leaf clusters.
- Seattle to beat the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei Ohtani did the Angels one last murderous favor.
- Toronto to beat Baltimore. Some things cannot be averted.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers to beat Milwaukee. The Dodgers never lose.
- San Diego to beat San Francisco. The Giants never lose even more often than the Dodgers never lose.
There were games of every brand—good team vs. good team, good team vs. bad team, good team vs. the Padres—but the path was there, and only two of the six games hit. That’s why parlays pay so well, because nobody ever cashes.
But there could have been three extra games, two of which would have been loser-pisses-off-level tense, and a third that would have pitted two teams that have learned after more than 60 years in California how to actually hate each other (h/t Juan Marichal and John Roseboro). Maximum baseball that would have carved a small, maybe imperceptible chunk out of Bradypalooza LXVIII. If nothing else, we could have been spared the endless shots of Steve Belichick catching insects out of the air with his tongue while trying to get on the cover of Vagrant Vogue. That alone would have been worth the effort.
Instead, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Giants (and sure, the Mariners, but they’ve been doing this long enough not to raise anyone’s hopes) ruined all of it. No games today, no extra game tomorrow, none of it. And yes, we are saying that it takes bonus playoff games to even threaten to dent the coverage of a 21-incompletion, no-touchdown Brady game against the last vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire. Don’t think we feel great about saying it.
Comrade Kalaf gave us the American League’s treachery, which includes getting its two most detestable teams into the postseason while hosing the most enjoyable team and the potential postseason team with the worst run differential in the sport’s history. And frankly, that was most of it; the Giants and Dodgers would have just played an extra game before their postseasons began, so the most we could have hoped for was a 13-inning game that finished 17-15 and featured a bench-emptying brawl and Gabe Kapler celebrating his first ejection in three years by biting the head and neck off Joe West.
Instead, no baseball at all. I hope Rob Manfred understands what a blown opportunity this was, and when I say Rob Manfred, I very definitely mean Rob Manfred.