VERO BEACH, FLORIDA – Some burning questions (and answers) entering the 2017 MLB postseason.
Will Cleveland and Arizona, record-breaking streakers, be able to maintain their regular season momentum?
The Indians went on an American League record 22-game win streak near the end of the regular season.
(The MLB mark is the somewhat controversial 26-game skein of the 1916 New York Giants.)
After 14 straight victories, the Giants played a tie game that was then replayed with the New Yorkers winning.)
For their part, late-charging the Diamondbacks won a team record 13 games in a row, which helped them snag a National League wild card spot.
However, there is no scientific documentation to support the premise that peaking teams continue their dominance in the postseason.
Momentum is such a nebulous phenomenon after all. Seemingly on a whim, it jumps from team to team and player to player.
This is especially true in MLB’s relatively brief “second season.”
A football coach MAS once covered explained the nature of momentum best: Ol’ Mo doesn’t accompany you into the locker room at halftime or at the end of a win; it stays out on the field waiting to be seized at the resumption of play.
MAS says there’s a 50-50 chance of the Tribe and D-Backs staying hot. As in, either they will or they won’t.
Are the Bronx Bombers back?
This year’s New York Yankees resembled the Yank offensive juggernauts of old. Led by rookie sensation Aaron Judge’s 52 homers and sophomore catcher Gary Sanchez’s 33, the youngish Yanks led the majors in roundtrippers with 241.
New York may be back offensively but its starting pitching beyond Luis Severino (MLB-high 16 starts in which he allowed one run or less) has been inconsistent — and that includes Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.94 ERA).
The Yanks supposedly formidable bullpen headed by Aroldis Chapman has also been iffy.
Severino may pitch the wild card Yankees into the ALDS but who knows what will happen in three straight series thereafter.
Thus, despite “Peach-fuzz Power,” MAS puts the chances of Yanks notching their 28th World Series crown — and first since 2009 — at just 30 percent.
Like Austin Powers, the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to have lost their mojo; can they get it back?
MAS is of the opinion that it is easier to maintain momentum than it is to regain it. When things go south, it often means a trip down to the tip of Chile.
This is the current state of the Dodgers.
The Boys of LaLaLand are still attempting to recover from a precipitous late season slide that saw them drop 16 of 17 contests, including a team record 11 straight ballgames.
Ironically, before that monster drought, the Dodgers had compiled an 87-35 mark and were on pace to smash the MLB record for most wins in the regular season — 116 set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
During their historically bad stretch, Dodger batters hit for just a .201 average and the offense scored less than two runs a game. Meanwhile, the LA pitching staff registered a bloated 6.54 ERA during the same period.
MAS puts their chances at just 25-75. (Dodger-haters, does MAS make you randy, baby?)
Why, hello Minnesota. What are you doing here?
While you weren’t looking the Twins snuck into the field with a Little Engine That Could-type effort, becoming the first team to go from 100 losses to a postseason appearance.
Statistically, they don’t impress you. They were middling in almost all major AL categories — fifth in batting average, ninth in HRs and ninth in ERA.
But their effort and execution in the clutch under their skipper, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, is off the charts.
Try as they might, the Twins may not have the personnel to win a wild card game vs. the Yankees and then sweep three series in a row against playoff-caliber clubs that are superior on paper.
Minny looks like the longshot of the field — 10 to 1 it says here.
Will pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s presence enable the Washington Nationals to FINALLY get over their postseason hump?
The Nats have been to the playoffs three times, with all trips coming since 2012. But D.C. has yet to advance to the National League Championship Series.
Big reason: Strasburg, then the Nats pitching staff ace, missed two of those appearances due to arm miseries and pitched only five innings in the other.
But this campaign he comes in healthy and on a roll.
The right-hander was 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and recently went 35 inning innings — almost a month — without giving up a run.
However, Strasburg may no longer be the overpowering type hurler who can take over a series.
So, it’s even money he’ll give Nats the goose they need.
Will one of the “long suffering” — YAWN! — fan bases finally have a World Series title to savor?
To paraphrase Allen Iverson: We talkin’ ’bout last wish befo’ dyin’ here.
The National and Houston Astro franchises both came into existence in the 1960s. (The Astros started out as the Colt .45s in 1962; the Nats debuted as the Montreal Expos in 1969 before relocating to D.C. in 2005.)
The Colorado Rockies, meanwhile, have been around since 1993.
And not since 1948 has Cleveland won The Fall Classic.
That’s a lot of combined coming up short and represents a significant amount of agony.
Enough, as metaphorically challenged singer Tony Orlando once put it, to stretch from here to the moon.
Of the 10 playoff teams, four have long suffering — zzzzz — faithful. So, do the math: there’s a 40 percent possibility one of them will be turning on Bill Murray/Cubs type waterworks of joy.
When it comes to the MLB postseason Q&A’s, a line from a Johnny Nash reggae hit says it all:
“There are more questions than answers” (at least definitive ones, anyway).
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