Mets blow their golden opportunity, MLB bracket is set

It’s hard to remember because the sports world spins so fast — in the past two days we’ve experienced wild college football upsets, another action-packed NFL Sunday, and two tickets punched to the NBA Finals — but on Saturday morning, the New York Mets were still eligible for postseason contention. In fact, I was feeling pretty good about it.

The joke was that the Mets had to do more than just win three games. They had to hope for Philadelphia and San Francisco to lose their remaining two games while Milwaukee had to lose one of two. Beating the basement-dwelling Nationals three times in two days was supposed to be the easy part.

Not so fast! The Mets got all the help they needed! The Phillies lost both games to the Rays, the Giants lost both games to the Padres, and the Brewers lost one of two against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of that out until Monday morning because the Mets eliminated themselves before the sun set on Saturday.

Home runs by Wilson Ramos and Amed Rosario staked New York to a 3-1 lead. That was looking pretty good in the fourth inning of a seven-inning game with Jacob deGrom on the mound, but the Nationals were brought back by an outfielder named Andrew Stevenson who has bounced between Triple-A and the majors for the past few seasons. In the fifth inning, Stevenson tied the score on an inside-the-park home run that nearly killed Dominic Smith

Oof. Smith would stay in the game, but he wouldn’t play in either of the next two. deGrom, meanwhile, was lifted after five innings and 113 pitches. In the sixth, Miguel Castro put a couple of runners on base before Josh Harrison gave Washington a 4-3 lead with a line drive to right field off of Edwin Diaz. Will Harris shut the door on the Mets in the seventh, and that was it for the season.

New York ended up losing 5-3 in the night cap and 15-5 on Sunday afternoon to finish with a 26-34 record while Milwaukee won the demolition derby for the final National League playoff spot at 29-31.

That means that MLB’s postseason bracket is finally set in stone. Many baseball fans, including myself, aren’t thrilled with the format, but it will be excited to see how it plays out, and what MLB wants right now is excitement. It will be interesting to see what happens if the 16-team structure backfires and high-profile teams like the Dodgers and Yankees are eliminated early. Would that make MLB less likely to continue with expanded playoffs in 2021?

Keep in mind that this is a true NCAA-style bracket in that the teams are not reseeded after the first round. That could lead to some complaining if, for example, the Dodgers have to face the Padres in the NLDS while the Braves draw the Marlins.

It’s a little different in the American League, where dangerous teams like Houston and the White Sox are lurking in the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. I’ll be watching for sure when the AL gets the party started on Tuesday. The first game up is Houston vs. Minnesota at 2:00 p.m. with Zack Greinke pitching against Kenta Maeda. Say what you want about how MLB has handled everything in 2020, but it’s a major win for Rob Manfred and company to have the postseason starting on network television. It looks like at least two first-round games, including the opener, will be broadcast on ABC.

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