Saturday, September 23, 2006

September 23rd, 1952

Phillies at Dodgers

Given the sheer number of teams in the league these days, divisions are something of a necessary evil. It would be impracticable to have all the teams in one gigantic division and just go straight into the playoffs. As this year's NL proves, it wouldn't even necessarily create a great race. It must said though that today's divisional races, as exciting as they might be, can never match the excitement of teams contending for one spot, knowing that one team goes to the World Series and the rest all go home.

Today's game illustrates that point, but in an odd way. With their one-run victory in the first game of a doubleheader, the Dodgers clinched the NL pennant. (They would go on to lose, of course, to the Yankees in the World Series.) This meant that the Dodgers had clinched with five games remaining. This marked the first time in four years that the winner of the National League pennant was not determined on the season's last day. Perhaps not surprisingly given the pressure of having to clinch that late, the National League teams lost those four World Series (the first to the Indians, the other three to the Yankees) by a combined game score of sixteen to four.

As I said, having all of a league's teams in one division won't happen again, and probably shouldn't. But that it is still fun to look back on when every team was gunning for one spot.

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