MLB Playoff Collapses: A Sports Script so Utterly Absurd

Todd SalemContributor IIISeptember 29, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28:  Members of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after defeating the Boston Red Sox 4-3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

A friend comes up to you saying he has a great idea for a sports movie script.

Now, this friend is questionable in the ideas department in the first place, so you are skeptical. He’s the same guy who wanted to try that “running with the bulls thing” when he saw it on the news one day. 

His plot starts off, and he explains how it is the beginning of September in the Major League Baseball season. It appears as though all eight playoff spots are reasonably set. Teams will fight for positioning and home field advantage, but besides a few competitors a handful of games back, the teams seem decided. 

As September progresses, each league's wild card leader, which had close to a double-digit game lead at the start of the month, begins to collapse.Their bullpens are imploding from overuse and having only a few guys who can be trusted in the first place. The starting rotations are crumbling with injuries, with even staff aces missing starts. And the lineups are not producing, at least not consistently.

You think to yourself that this seems quite unlikely. I mean, I suppose one team could blow an historic lead, but both league wild card teams at the same time? Get real. 

When he gets to the end of September, the dueling collapses are complete. Going into game 162, the final game of the year, two teams are tied for both the AL and NL wild cards. Each previous double-digit leader has completely lost its lead and fallen from atop its pedestal down to the depths of despair.

Your friend decides to emphasize again how it’s happening in both leagues at the same time, because he finds this tremendously energizing while you think of it as quite absurd. 

Now it is the last game of the year, and both of the original wild card leaders have their closers pitching in the ninth inning with a lead. With a preposterous smile on his face, your friend tells you that they both blow the games, and each closer (both of whom were All-Stars this season, mind you) blows the save in the ninth. 

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 27: Randall Delgado #40 of the Atlanta Braves is shown on the bench late in the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The NL team goes on to lose in extra innings, while their competitor had won earlier in the evening and was simply awaiting results.

The ruination is final. The epic and historic collapse is complete. 

Meanwhile, the former AL leader loses in dramatic, walk-off fashion after the blown save, and ONLY MINUTES LATER, their competitor wins in dramatic, walk-off fashion, having come back from a seven-run, eighth-inning deficit that very game

The downfall is final. The epic and historic collapse is complete. 

You sit back, staring at your friend and his sense of complete fulfillment, and can’t help but feel sorry for him. He asks you what you think, and you stay silent for a beat, two beats, three beats.

“You are a moron,” you say, and walk out of the room. 

“Wait,” he calls back. “Would it help the story if the AL MVP and Cy Young winners were the same guy while the NL MVP and Cy Young winners were from the same team, a team that wasn’t even close to making the playoffs? That would be ironic, right, kind of add to the story arc?”

I need smarter friends, you tell yourself.