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MLB postseason rolls on without some of the best regular season teams

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's turn to the Major League Baseball playoffs, where another team with an amazing regular season was taken out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: The Arizona Diamondbacks sweep the Dodgers and head for the LCS.

KELLY: Yep, the Arizona Diamondbacks knocked out the team with the best regular season in their division.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The LA Dodgers won 100 games but just couldn't quite keep the momentum rolling into the playoffs. And it could have something to do with how the best teams are seeded once they reach the playoffs.

KELLY: Yeah. As a prize for winning your division during the regular season, teams do not have to play in the first round of playoffs, which could be hurting their postseason chances, says Levi Weaver, who covers baseball for The Athletic.

LEVI WEAVER: During the regular season, baseball is an everyday sport. So taking three, four or five days off without games - it does upset the routine and the schedule that you get yourself into.

CHANG: And it's not just the Dodgers. So far, the teams with the best records in baseball have struggled in the playoffs.

KELLY: Baltimore, LA, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee - each won more than 90 games, and all were swept by their opponents. The Atlanta Braves, my team, who had the best regular season, they are down 2-1 in their series against Philadelphia. Again, Levi Weaver.

WEAVER: If you think the problem is the playoff format, absolutely. There's probably something there. If you think the problem is just that each of these teams had some weaknesses that they were able to overcome during the regular season but couldn't make it work in playoff baseball, well, there's probably something to that, too.

CHANG: There is one team, however, that seems to have the postseason figured out. The plucky Houston Astros are playing in their seventh straight American League Championship Series. They will face their in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers, for the first time in the playoffs.

KELLY: And Weaver is all about the shakeup.

WEAVER: Long live the underdog. I am all for maybe a Phillies-Diamondbacks NLCS. Go Rangers. Knock off the Astros, and let's get a weird World Series that we haven't seen in a while.

KELLY: Well, the Astros and Rangers start their series on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are still waiting to see who they will play. (Whispering) And go Braves.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIKI SONG, "EVERY SUMMERTIME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.