This title is in question form because (a) I feel like titles asking how great something is look more intriguing than statements and (b) because I've been alive for two decades and have followed baseball for less than one, so I am not in a position to make such a bold statement.
There have been many divisional series in MLB history, so for anyone who isn't a baseball historian to unflinchingly say, "This is the best LDS ever," is dangerously approaching Skip Bayless territory, which is a land full of radioactive trees and three-eyed moose last time I checked.
All this being said, it's really hard to imagine there's been a divisional round of baseball better than this one.
First of all, all four series went to their fifth and final game. Now, it's not like a five-game series with evenly matched baseball teams is too unlikely to end up going the distance, but for all four of these series to do so is historic (Literally. This is first time since this LDS format began in 1995 that all four series have gone to Game 5). A baseball fan couldn't ask for much more, even if the actual games in the series weren't that exciting.
But these teams decided to give you more than you asked for, baseball fan. Let's start with the Giants vs. the Reds.
This was definitely the worst of the four series, although that's kinda like saying George Harrison is the least famous Beatle. He's still one of the most famous musicians of the 20th century, and he was the lead guitarist for the freaking Beatles! (Speaking of which, is Harrison actually the least famous Beatle? Ringo Starr was definitely more charismatic, has a more exciting name and sang Yellow Submarine, but Harrison was a much better musician with a better post-Beatles career. I might have to conduct a survey on this...)
Only two of the games in this series were close (Games 3 and 5), although Game 5 was decided in the fifth inning. The Reds made that game interesting, to say the least, turning a 6-0 deficit into a 6-4 game in the ninth inning with the potential winning run at the plate, but it wasn't like last night's Nats-Cards game that saw a 6-0 lead completely evaporate.
Game 3 was actually pretty boring even though it was close the entire game and went into extra innings. The Giants won on an error, for Brooks Conrad's sake.
Still, you had The Tim Lincecum Relief Game (Game 4) and the towering Buster Posey grand slam in Game 5 that won the game/series. Oh, and the Giants went down 0-2 and ended up winning three straight games on the road. When the worst of the four divisional series involved a historic comeback, it's safe to say that this was one of the best divisional playoff rounds ever.
The Bay Area's other team also nearly pulled off the Giants' crazy feat.
Going down 0-2 after two closely contested games in Detroit, the A's got great pitching and defensive performances in Game 3 to keep them alive, then made an improbable comeback in the ninth inning of Game 4 to force a Game 5.
It felt like the A's were destined to complete the series comeback and win Game 5, but Justin Verlander has always loved the scene in Cinderella when the clock strikes midnight and the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.
He dominated the A's lineup, and the Tigers avoided a Reds-like collapse.
For a series where every game seemed like it could have swung either way, Verlander made sure that the Tigers weren't leaving Oakland without a win.
The Cardinals did have two eight-run blowout wins in Games 2 and 3, but the other three games were fantastic.
The Nationals won Game 1 by a score of 3-2, scoring 2 runs in the eighth inning.
Game 4 was similar to Game 3 in the Giants-Reds series, but instead of a game-winning run on an error, Jayson Werth hit a walk-off home run. This home run should have been the series' defining moment, but the Cards didn't like that plot.
That Game 5, man. And you thought the Cardinals used up all their comeback magic last postseason.
St. Louis first decided it would be fun to dig themselves a 6-0 hole that they were almost able to climb out of by scoring five unanswered runs, but the Nats dropped a boulder on the Cardinals' arm by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning (making it 7-5) and getting two outs in the top of the ninth with only one Cardinal on base.
But instead of just accepting their fate and dying alone in the cave, the Cards said, "Screw it. Arms are overrated," and decided to cut off this troublesome limb. They loaded the bases with two straight walks, and Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma—the heroes everyone saw coming—tied the game and gave St. Louis a 9-7 lead, respectively.
Jason Motte and his beard took the role of the cast for the Cardinals' severed arm, closing the game out in the bottom of the ninth.
"Welcome to the club, Nats fans," said the Rangers fans.
And then there's the Yankees-Orioles series—the best of the four.
Game 1: 7-2, New York. Five ninth-inning runs by the Yanks.
Game 2: 3-2, Baltimore.
Game 3: 3-2, New York in 12 innings (aka, the Raul Ibanez pinch-hits for A-Rod and hits the game-tying and game-winning home runs).
Game 4: 2-1, Baltimore in 13 innings.
Game 5: 3-1, New York. Complete game by CC Sabathia.
You didn't even need to watch this series to know how great it was, but if you watched it, boy, were you rewarded.
The Giants-Reds and Tigers-A's were the two "worst" divisional series. Think about that for second. This might not have been the best overall LDS ever, but if there's been a better one, somebody must send me the footage of each and every game from that round ASAP.