Crunch time, and this is what we're getting from the National League: The Mets bullpen is more harrowing than a crime scene, the Dodgers have all of the energy of Los Angeles in a midst of a blackout and Arizona, in lowly San Diego, of all places, turned more toxic than Clorox.
|Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs have been the class of the National League. (Getty Images)|
Crunch time, and the Mets choke a 7-0, fifth-inning lead in Philadelphia the other night. Florida, still harboring wild-card hopes, blows a 9-6, sixth-inning lead in Atlanta when Hanley Ramirez, a "shortstop" in name only, muffs what would have been a game-ending double-play grounder.
The Dodgers bang out 13 hits in Philadelphia on Monday -- and can't score a run. No team has acquired 13 or more hits and remained scoreless since 1928.
Forget the new instant replay rules that were set to begin Thursday night.
If baseball really wants change we can believe in -- to borrow one of the election-year themes -- what it ought to do is put the Cubs and Milwaukee in the playoffs and then ban the rest.
Hand the NL's other two playoff slots over to the AL.
"Or put the Cubs right into the World Series against the winner of the American League," one AL advance scout said.
He was joking, mostly, but maybe the idea really isn't all that outlandish.
The Padres "won" the NL West in 2005 at 82-80, the worst record of any team ever to play in the postseason, and immediately were swept by St. Louis.
That year, baseball narrowly avoided the embarrassment of a sub-.500 team playing in October and, based on the way the Diamondbacks and Dodgers have shifted hard into reverse this week, it might be white-knuckle time again in the winning percentage (or lack thereof) department.
"The Cubs keep winning because they're the best team," one NL scout said. "The Phillies aren't bad when they're hitting like they should. The Dodgers' averages aren't bad, but they don't knock in runs like they should because they're just not that good."
As bad as Seattle is, you can make a strong argument right now that the three worst teams in the game reside in the NL: Washington's winning percentage is lower than the Mariners', the Padres were beaten by Seattle in five of six games this summer, and Pittsburgh -- post-Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte -- is simply dreadful.