Originally Posted by vaticanplum
I think there's really something to be said in this division for playing to the quality of your competition. I almost wonder if the teams in the NL Central have become accustomed to mediocre play during the season, then they turn up the talent when they have to. Certainly it's not conscious; I'm sure the Cardinals would rather blow the rest of the teams out of the water every year instead of struggling all season and ekeing it out at the end. But I think subconsciously they know they don't HAVE to all season, and then at the end -- and during the playoffs -- the "oh crap" factor sets in and lights a fire under them. And the Astros in particular have been a September team the last few years.
That's a possibility. It's certainly not without precedent. You hear of teams in every sport going into cruise control during the regular season and then going into a higher gear once the playoffs start. I know that's not exactly what you meant but in either scenario the team(s) in question have to turn it up a notch when they need to. Of course that didn't quite work out for the Cubs when they had their chance.
But even they were a whisker from making it to the Series. And if they had it would have been, what, 4 in a row from the NL Central in the Series? Is that just superior teams revving it up when they need to or is it just a crapshoot and the NL Central has been rolling sevens the past 3 years? Or is it just the East Coast media bias not giving the Midwestern teams their due? Or, could it even be - unlikely as it seeems - that the NL Central is better than people think and they just beat up on each other and that makes them better come playoff time?