Every television show struggles, as the seasons pile up, to elevate the stakes, push the plot further, and justify new adventures without straining audience credulity. Few shows, even the best, pull it off entirely.
The 115th season of Major League Baseball was one of the most purely spectacular seasons to date, but if you think about it for more than a few minutes, the whole thing comes crashing down faster than a Giancarlo Stanton homer in the Marlins Park bar. More than any other season, this one glossed over so many logistical hurdles and relied on so many convenient twists to arrive at its endgame that it didn't make much sense at all.
In an effort to highlight the glaring moments of Season 115 that just didn't make any sense, we came up with 27 basic questions the writers failed to answer.
1. Why is the best player so short? There's nothing about being short that makes a baseball player especially likely to be good. In fact, shortness has been an obstacle to greatness for most of history. Yet the best player in baseball this year (out of hundreds and hundreds) is the shortest player in baseball (out of hundreds and hundreds), which is awfully convenient, and feels like a needlessly colorful detail introduced not because it's meaningful but because it's darling.
2. Why is the other best player so tall? There's also not much of an advantage to being freakishly tall (unless you're a pitcher), and yet the second-best player in baseball is the tallest? So out of 672 position players, it's just a coincidence that the two best players make for the cutest possible picture? We all love fan service, but it shouldn't be this easy.
3. Speaking of Aaron Judge: Is it really plausible that the second-best player in baseball would have been fighting for a job in March? Obviously, a lot of great plot lines hinge on the obliviousness of other characters, but it defies belief that none of us would recognize an otherworldly superhero standing right next to us.
4. For that matter, where did all these new characters come from? There were 10 rookies this year who hit 20 or more home runs, and there are two more within two of that mark heading into the final weekend. There had never been a season before this with more than six 20-HR rookies, and only seven seasons in history with even five. This is too many adorable youngsters to pass muster. Are all of their parents on archaeological digs in South America?
6. Sure, home runs are up, but the American League and National League rookie home run records -- two records that had each stood for decades -- are broken in the very same year?
7. Speaking of Cody Bellinger: It's fun that the Dodgers finally jumped that tier from good to great, but is it really plausible they would do so with a roster mostly unchanged from last year, other than the incorporation of Chris Taylor (whom the front office wanted to keep on the bench), Alex Wood (whom the front office wanted to keep in the bullpen) and Bellinger (whom the front office wanted to keep in the minors)? Is it really fair to expect us to believe the only reason the Dodgers got super-great was because three crucial things went wrong for them early in the year, forcing them to accept the heroics of three overlooked stars? Is it?
8. For that matter, is it fair to ask us to believe that the Red Sox's two best hitters this year have been the two third basemen (Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers) they were forced to add midsummer, thereby turning the offseason's single worst trade (Travis Shaw to Milwaukee) into the club's salvation? Does that make sense? Isn't that stupid? Do this sport's scriptwriters think we're stupid?
9. Then there's the way the Twins' failure to move Brian Dozier in the offseason was considered the worst single "move" of the offseason? Because the Twins were coming off a 100-loss season, and no team has ever gone from 100 losses to the playoffs, and the Twins were barely even trying? Now the Twins are the second wild-card team, and Dozier has been worth 4.3 WAR? Isn't that a little too slick?
10. Also, just generally, the Twins?
11. And how the Twins were so unlikely to make the postseason they traded their closer at the deadline? Because they collapsed in July, on account of not actually appearing to be a very good team? And then had the best August in team history?
12. For that matter, these wild mood swings are just inexplicable. Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco hit .078/.158/.118 in July. He was the worst hitter in baseball that month. Then in August he hit .373/.413/.686. He was the seventh-best player in baseball that month. Does that seem plausible to anybody?
13. One of the six names ahead of him was Tim Beckham. Beckham was the guy the Rays took first overall (instead of Buster Posey) in the 2008 draft, the guy whom Tampa Bay spent nine frustrating years waiting to turn into something, and they finally give up on him and he immediately turns into a star? I get that screenwriters see breakups as convenient instigating events in the journey toward self-actualization, but have you ever actually known a real person who got dumped and then the next day could suddenly run a four-minute mile?
14. Honestly, a lot of these performance swings are too extreme to even qualify as randomness. Fernando Rodney:
His June was the fifth no-hit month (minimum nine innings pitched) in the modern era. OK.
15. Now Rodney is the closer for a National League wild-card team, most likely facing the Rockies. Don't think I don't see what the writers are setting up, the pistol they hung on the wall. The winner of that wild-card game will face the Dodgers, who have played 20 different teams this year. They have a losing record against two of them:
The Rockies. These guys.
16. The whole Dodgers season -- the best run in franchise history, followed by the worst run in franchise history -- has been an insult to our intelligence. They were, in mid-August, arguably the greatest team ever; there was no one on earth like them; they were blameless and upright. Then they immediately and inexplicably fell into the worst slump in the 60-year history of the team? That story's a little derivative, don't you think?
17. It happened simultaneously with the longest winning streak in American League history. It's always a dark and stormy night when the mysterious death occurs, isn't it?
18. During Cleveland's 22-game winning streak, infielder Jose Ramirez hit .423/.462/.944 and hit his 50th double of the season and took the AL lead in total bases and extra-base hits. Why, if it isn't the second-shortest everyday player in the American League. We're back to leaning too heavily on short characters.
19. Like Scooter Gennett, who is 5-foot-10 and named after literally the smallest motor vehicle, and who hit more home runs in a single game than Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols ever did. Four homers in a game, done only 16 times in 115 years, and here's a guy doing it who had never previously hit more than that in a month.
20. And the Reds' whole infield? Gennett, a 27-year-old who had been a below-average hitter in his career, is hitting .297/.345/.540. Zack Cozart, a 31-year-old who had been a below-average hitter in his career, is hitting .301/.388/.556. Eugenio Suarez, a 25-year-old who had been a below-average hitter in his career, is hitting .261/.369/.466. If Cozart homers once more, the Reds will be the first team in National League history to have six players with 25 home runs.
The Reds are in last place.
21. Because everything in this season is bananas. A veteran who a few years ago hit zero homers in a full season now has 20. A veteran who had never hit 10 now has 27. A veteran who had never hit 40 now has 57. The ball is so jumpy my friend Craig tried to convince me that 31-year-old Cozart suddenly matching Barry Larkin's best season at the plate is actually normal. And, in the sense that the writers decided to set this season on the moon, it sort of is. But who suddenly moves a show to the moon?
23. Pujols has been the least-valuable player in baseball, by WAR, but he has also been the third most clutch hitter in baseball? Cute conceit, but life doesn't really work that way.
24. It also doesn't work this way:
Craig Kimbrel has allowed baseball's highest exit velocity this year, and the fifth-lowest WHIP of all-time— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBB) September 26, 2017
None of it works this way.
25. Why did every Cubs starting pitcher lose between 1 and 3 mph from his fastball this year? Sure, they threw a lot of innings last October, but the Indians' starters threw just as many without any problem. Isn't this a transparent deus ex machina to prevent the unstoppable Cubs dynasty we were all expecting?
26. The Tebow crossover plot line worked better than anybody expected, but why did it last so long? The last four weeks were hard to watch.
27. Finally, there's the most unrealistic thing of all: The division winners this year are going to be the Astros, Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and Nationals. In other words: The six teams we all actually picked to win the divisions. Baseball never works that way.
Tip of the cap to this article, which we admiringly imitated.