I love how the last week of the season is shaping up, what with the Orioles and Yankees fighting it out for the AL East, each trying to avoid the one-game wild card thing. But reader Innocent Bystander makes a good point in the comments this morning:
O’s/Yanks battle seems exciting on the face of it, but if we rewind to when just 2 Division winners went to the postseason and there were no Wild Cards the drama would be even more intense. Imagine if one of these teams was going home. For that matter, go back farther to league winner goes directly to the World Series and you would have a great 3 team race with the Rangers. And in the NL the Reds/Nats would be a lot of fun too. More playoff teams doesn’t necessarily make the races better.
Like I said: it’s still exciting now. But don’t let anyone — be it a broadcaster or a Commissioner of Baseball — make you believe that the excitement we’re going to have these last three games and then again on Friday’s do-or-die wild card games is unprecedented or impossible without the current playoff format.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.
Ken Rosenthal has an interesting story up about Sergio Romo as he begins spring training with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is some fun stuff about his family, all Dodgers fans from southern California, but the more notable stuff is about Romo himself, who has dealt with a lot more than has been reported over the past couple of seasons. The loss of three of his four grandparents is a big one, as it has thrust the mantle of head of the family on Romo in ways that he was not fully prepared for. There are also allusions to personal and psychological problems Romo has experienced — there is a vague suggestion of alcohol or maybe just late nights out and perhaps depression, but he is not specific about it — which he worked on with the help of friends and teammates on the Giants and which he now has overcome.
There’s always more going on the lives of baseball players than we as fans know.