Sep 27, 2019

There are no dynasties in modern baseball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2016, the Cubs snapped a 108-year World Series drought and seemed destined to build a modern dynasty. 3 years later, they've been eliminated from the playoffs following a late-season collapse — and could be set for sweeping changes this offseason.

Why it matters: The death of the Cubs' dynasty (that never really existed) proves just how difficult it is to sustain greatness in baseball.

  • Unlike basketball, where a trio of superstars can win you a title, 3 baseball players aren't able to carry a team. And you can't remake your roster in one offseason, either. You need organizational depth — and a long-term plan.
  • Unlike football, where a new offensive/defensive scheme can make all the difference, baseball has no "schemes." For the most part, every team is playing the same game. There's no outsmarting your opponent.
  • Unlike hockey, where someone like Cale Makar can make an impact literally 2 days after his college career ends, baseball requires years of player development. The Cubs failed in that department, especially with pitchers.
  • Unlike soccer, where a few game-winning goals can alter the course of a season, baseball is such a slog that a team's record after 162 games is more about how well the roster was built, rather than whether or not you made a few game-winning plays.

The bottom line: "Ultimately, maybe none of the Cubs' struggles should come as too much of a surprise," writes WSJ's Jared Diamond (subscription).

  • "Dynasties rarely happen in today's baseball — no team has won consecutive championships since the New York Yankees completed their three-peat in 2000."

Worth noting: The Astros have dynasty written all over them after taking a similar path as the Cubs (tank, rebuild, emerge as contender), all while relying more heavily on analytics and doing a much better job developing talent.

Go deeper: Baseball's season of extremes

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A breakdown of tonight's NLDS doubleheader

Bracket: Axios Visuals

On Tuesday, the Nationals became the first D.C. baseball team in 95 years to win a winner-take-all game. And last night, the Rays out-moneyballed the A's in a battle of low payrolls.

What's next: 8 teams now remain, and the divisional round begins tonight with a National League double-header.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

José Altuve propels the Houston Astros to the World Series

The Houston Astros' José Altuve during the team's clash with the New York Yankees in Houston, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

A José Altuve walk-off home run sent the Houston Astros to the World Series as the team beat the New York Yankees 6-4 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.

The big picture: The victory at Minute Maid Park, Houston, which ended the Yankees' season, means the Astros are heading to the World Series for the second time in three years, the Washington Post notes. The Astros will face the Washington Nationals for the title, starting with Game 1 in Houston on Tuesday, per the New York Times.

Go deeper: Washington Nationals reach franchise's first World Series with NLCS sweep

Keep ReadingArrowOct 20, 2019

How the ALCS rainout impacts the Yankees and Astros

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Due to heavy rain in New York yesterday, Game 4 of the ALCS was postponed to tonight, and Game 5 — originally scheduled for tonight — was pushed back to Friday, which was supposed to be a travel day.

Why it matters: The ripple effects of the rainout will be felt throughout the rest of the series, as the Astros and Yankees may have to play 4 games in 4 days if it goes the distance.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019