A best of three division series?

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There’s been an awful lot of talk about extending the division series from five to seven games recently.  The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo suggests doing the opposite:

With the season getting too long, how about cutting the Division Series from five to three games and the League Championship Series from seven to five games? Teams with the best pitching would be rewarded in the Division Series because they’d be able to use their top three starters. Of course, there would always be upsets, which is fine, too . . . Baseball should not reduce its regular season from 162 games – you wouldn’t want to compromise all the numbers associated with the modern era – but tweaking the postseason might create more excitement in shorter series.

Compromising the modern era?  Assuming he means the post-deadball era, does he not realize that baseball had a 154 game season for 41 years of that period, most of which people refer to as baseball’s “Golden Age?”  No, I don’t really want to shrink the season down either — I prefer more scheduled doubleheaders — and I don’t believe that the 40s and 50s really were the Golden Age, but you can’t tell me that making a best of three playoff series is preferable to lopping off a week’s worth of games.

A best of three series would make a mockery of the first round.  If the schedule is so important, baseball would be better served by simply eliminating the first round.

Astros name Justin Verlander ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.