We're just about 10 days away now. And as the season starts, and especially as it rolls on, we'll hear more and more about the strata of MLB, and especially the National League. The NL is where you find three really good teams in the Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers. Then a level of teams that could be good, could not be, or anything in between in the Cards, Brewers, Rockies, Giants, D-Backs, Phillies, Braves. And then there's the trash... and then there's the Mets, who will always exist in their own category/facility/dimension. It's pretty much the same in the AL, where the Red Sox, Yankees, Cleveland, and Astros kind of exist on their own plane.
We'll hear about how it's not a very socialist set-up, there isn't much parity as three teams in each league could very well win 100 games, feasting on the innards of those below who are in the middle of a rebuild or lower market or whatever excuse they're using this week.
Maybe it's because I'm a fan of a team in the aristocracy, but I'm not sure I see the problem.
Sports, when they're good, have always had a clear delineation between their great teams and their not great teams. The NFL now disabuses us of this notion, with their "Any Given Sunday" mantra. And yet the Patriots have been to half the Super Bowls basically over the past 16 years and they're big box office. Not so long before that the Niners and Cowboys duked it out in the NFC and we didn't seem to mind. If the championship is going to be passed around like a joint, it kind of loses value, no?
The NBA has super teams now, and some people complain, but it always has. The whole league's revival was built on a rivalry between two great teams on each coast. You trace the recent history of the NBA through dynasties. It's like Rome or China. Celtics-Lakers to Pistons to Bulls back to Lakers to Spurs to wherever LeBron is to now the Warriors. And if the Rockets or Raptors or Celtics can get over them this year, it won't just be a title. It'll be a title and getting by the FINAL BOSS at the end that is Golden State.
To me, the Cubs and Dodgers having a third edition of their Cold War in the NLCS would be a good thing, even if it might get stale to others. It's something every baseball fan will remember forever. It defines an era. The same if the Astros and Yankees were to start their own on the other side.
And it's not like the Boston-New York dynamic of the early part of the century, where it felt like no one else could compete financially. Everyone's got the money now. Everyone has the front office methods, or can. Everyone's been shown the way. If teams can't follow the path, it's because they simply don't want to or are too stupid or both. Just next year, the Phillies and Braves could very well pass behind the velvet ropes, even if the Nationals fall out of it when Bryce goes blue. The White Sox in two years very well might as well. The Twins soon enough. It's possible.
And when they do, the charm of it won't be that they're just good again. It'll be that they can go toe-to-toe with the Astros or Cubs or Dodgers. There's a status to it. It's not just rotated around like in the NFL. Look at how quickly things change there, and look no further than the Seahawks. They were the up and coming team, then they won, and now they're definitely on a death spiral. All of it was over five years. The nature of the game of course keeps teams from being on top for more than a couple seasons, unless you have the dark arts like New England.
I like eras. I like dynasties. So I'm not going to shed too much of a tear that the same teams are so separated. We were at the bottom once. Now we're here.
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