Some refer to the postseason as tournament baseball. Playing well at the right time is more important that excellence and consistency over the long haul.
The 2001 Seattle Mariners were the biggest casualty. They went 116-46 during the regular season for a .716 winning percentage, the best in the major leagues since the 1954 Indians went 116-46 (.721). Seattle lost the ALCS to the Yankees in five games.
“Doesn’t matter if you won 85 to get in the playoffs or 185 to get in the playoffs. It’s how you finish,” said Aaron Sele, the loser in New York’s clincher.
With the advent of the one-game, winner-take-all wild-card playoff, winning divisions has taken on more urgency. For more than a decade, the main difference between division winner and wild card was home-field advantage.
“That one-game playoff is a nightmare,” Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said.
But now that the postseason is a monthlong event, the hurdles to get a ring are many. Just reaching the World Series is a major accomplishment, maybe more so than it was from 1903-68.
“Getting here and what’s it taken to get here with a great team and a great group of guys, you see just how hard it is to win the World Series,” Peavy said. “You really understand the preparation, the will of not just a few guys, not just a handful of guys _ it has to be an organizational philosophy that you’re going to win the World Series. It’s got to be a team and a group of guys that just refuse to quit and all put their efforts together as a team to be on top.”