Saturday afternoon brought devastating news for Dodgers fans. One of the team's most beloved players, an incredible talent and pivotal part of the team's success, got left off the NLCS roster. A wave of panic and consternation and teeth-gnashing ensued, because as loaded as the Dodgers are, it's incredibly hard to recover from a loss of this magnitude.
But enough about Pedro Baez.
OK fine, it was All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, not the most excruciating pitcher to watch on Planet Earth, whose scratch from the roster due to a back injury could play a significant role in this series. Subtract a Silver Slugger winner who's also one of the league's best gloves at a premium position like shortstop, and all you can is hope that it hurts a little less than expected. Along those lines, the Dodgers winning Game 1 certainly helped.
Seager's surprise absence from the NLCS got us thinking about some other notable injuries that caused major playoff bowouts. Thanks to baseball-loving pals at CBS Sports, the great Rob Neyer, Jeff Zimmerman's A+ data sleuthing, and other sources, here are some of the biggest tales of this unfortunate phenomenon. The rules for inclusion are simple: The missing player had to have suffered the injury that caused him to sit shortly before the start of the series. We will also allow injuries suffered during the postseason in question, if said injuries knocked the player out for the duration thereafter. Months-long absences beforehand don't count in our quest to find other cases of what we're calling Seager Sadness.
Hank Greenberg, 1935 World Series
Greenberg was one of the most devastating power hitters of his time, and an absolute beast in '35, batting .328/.411/.628, cracking 36 homers, driving in 170(!!!) runs, and winning his first MVP award. Greenberg broke his wrist in Game 2 trying to score on a single. The Tigers subbed a delightfully-named fellow named Flea Clifton into the lineup, only to watch Clifton go for 0 for 16 for the series. Detroit still pulled it out in seven, though, because they were playing the Cubs. (Also, if you've never seen the delightful documentary "The Life of Times of Hank Greenberg", you need to do so immediately. It's the only movie poster I own.)
Mickey Mantle, 1961 World Series
The Mick smashed a career-high 54 homers in '61, but of course Roger Maris' record-breaking season overshadowed him. Mantle contracted a nasty hip infection toward the end of that season, but tried to play through it anyway. He kept trying to play when the Yankees made the Fall Classic, but managed just six at-bats in the Series. The Yankees still won in five, because they were the Yankees.
Reggie Jackson, 1972 World Series
Mr. October missed the end of that month in '72, after suffering a playoff-ending leg injury against the Tigers in the ALCS. Still, this was the start of an A's dynasty that would include three straight World Series titles and five straight division crowns. The '72 Athletics were so loaded, facing Cincinnati's vaunted Big Red Machine, even without Reggie, didn't faze them. Gene Tenace clubbed four home runs in the series, and Oakland prevailed in seven.
Jim Rice, 1975 playoffs
Some still consider the '75 World Series to be the greatest one ever played, and for good reason. Carlton Fisk's home run might be the most iconic in major league history, with Fisk's wave-it-fair hop arguably vaulting it ahead of Joe Carter, Bill Mazeroski, and other huge Fall Classic dingers for the title of most indelible mental image. That home run merely won Game 6, though, and the Red Sox ultimately fell to the Big Red Machine in seven. The Sox were impossibly loaded in the outfield that year, with Fred Lynn winning Rookie of the Year and AL MVP, 23-year-old Dwight Evans coming into his own, Bernie Carbo serving as a hugely potent supersub, and a 35-year-old Carl Yastrzemski mixing in a few games in the outfield to supplement his work at first base. Still, Rice was a 22-year-old menace, finishing second to Lynn in Rookie of the Year balloting and third in MVP voting. Would the Sox have broken their World Series drought 29 years earlier if Rice hadn't gone down with a broken bone in his hand in late September of that year, forcing him to miss the entire postseason.
Stephen Strasburg, 2012 playoffs
It's a decision that's soured many baseball people on Strasburg to this day: The Nationals, with input from Strasburg and his agent Scott Boras regarding workload concerns and hopes for Strasburg's future, shut down the big right-hander in September. Then the Nats, owners of the best record in baseball that year, lost to the Cardinals in five games in the NLDS. This would be the first of an agonizing stretch of playoff losses for Washington that continued this postseason, with the crushing defeat in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cubs. If there's a silver lining, it's that Strasburg has silenced all but the most stubborn doofuses who cover the sport. His career playoff record through three starts? 19 innings pitched, 24 strikeouts, four walks, zero home runs allowed, and a 0.47 ERA.
Vince Coleman gets eaten by a tarp before Game 4 of the 1985 NLCS
Yes. That really happened.