Baseball has gone coastal.
In this participation trophy playoff structure, the National League Central sent four of its five teams to the playoffs. One of which, Milwaukee, never spent a day of the season over .500. The American League Central sent three teams.
In a strange quirk to the strangest of seasons, all seven teams from the Central Divisions were eliminated. In fact, of the eight teams eliminated, seven were from the Central and only one, the Blue Jays, from the East.
And in an even stranger quirk, it’s all back to playing within the division. Now it’s East versus East and West versus West in both leagues.
In the American League, Oakland plays Houston, who they beat seven out of ten times this season. Tampa Bay plays New York, who they beat eight out of ten times.
In the National League, Atlanta plays Miami, who they beat six out of ten games in 2020. Los Angeles plays San Diego, who they won six of their ten matchups against.
So these so-called Divisional Series are actually that. Four series against teams that are familiar with one another in a best-of-five series with no off days in between. The American League plays in Southern California, either San Diego or Los Angeles. The National League plays in Texas, either Houston or Arlington, the only playoff hosting city without a team still in the playoffs.
If the regular season results are any indication, the final four teams will be Oakland versus Tampa Bay and Atlanta versus Los Angeles.
But the playoffs are always unpredictable.
They start Monday.