Consistently inconsistent; that’s what makes the NL West so wild. And right now, it’s the only reason any of us still care about Major League Baseball prior to the commencement of the playoffs. Sure, the Yankees and Rays are battling out for the AL East crown, but really, who cares? Until the MLB changes its playoff policy, the discrepancy between winning the division and winning the Wildcard is not much to notice, much less care about.
What is the deal with the NL West? A few years back, this division was the laughing stock of baseball, with the winner struggling to play .500 baseball. But somehow, someway, they competed when it mattered. In the last five years, assuming the Giants can win one of the last two games against the Padres, or win the consequential playoff should they lose both, then all five teams (Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks) will have made the playoffs in that time. That is ridiculous. Take a look at history in Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski’s article here, which will inform you just how rare of an occurrence this is.
Why is this division so interesting? Why is it so much fun to watch? Well, it has everything. Great pitching (Padres, PETCO Park helps a bit), great hitting (Rockies, Coors Field helps them as well), great defense (All five teams are in the top 14 in baseball, with the Padres, Giants, and Dodgers in the top 10), dominant pitchers (Lincecum, Jimenez), and a whole bunch of young players (Dodgers and Diamondbacks specifically). Anyway, you get the picture. For once, there is a lot to like in this division. And if it weren’t for the underperforming Dodgers and the falling-apart-at-the-seams youth movement Diamondbacks, all five of these teams would be forces with which to be reckoned. With the way the Giants have played lately, and the way the Padres have played for the majority of the season, minus their highly unfortunate 10 game slide, part of me wishes both of these teams could get in the playoffs, which is unlikely at this point. Everyone says pitching wins championships, and the Padres and Giants would make formidable opponents in a short series.
Admit it, when the Rockies starting making their now patented September run, we all kind of were pulling for them. The Padres had been the bully on the block for most of the year, and the Giants a pesky, yet quiet, second. But the feel-good-story Rockies were at it again. All hail the underdog right? It was set too. The Padres slumping, the Giants inconsistent, and the Rockies were, well, rocking. But all of a sudden, here we sit, the Rockies didn’t do it. And on top of that, those pesky, quiet, inconsistent Giants are in the driver’s seat for the West. Who would of thought?
Of course, if we’d been paying attention to the West, we should have thought. For its only fitting that the West would give us the least expected (and least consistent) option, and make it reality. After all, the West isn’t Wild for nothing.