Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Baseball playoffs are unfair, unpredictable and exciting

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Food for thought for those who aren’t very hungry:

I talked with a longtime reader about a variety of local sports and he said “You heard it here first – St. Laurence is going to win the state baseball championship.”

He thought the Vikings had the most talent.

But that’s not how it works with the Illinois High School Association baseball tournament.

Baseball is one of the hardest sports to figure out when it comes to a single-elimination tournament. A great team can face one red-hot pitcher on a Tuesday and get beat by an average team. Then on Thursday, the average team throws a not-so-red-hot pitcher and gets pounded.

Who would have predicted that in Class 4A Providence Catholic would be the first team to win back-to-back baseball titles since Maine Township did it in 1958-59?

Who would have predicted that they would win even one title in the past two years?

In 2014, the Celtics came feebly limping into the state tournament losing three in a row by a combined 22-4 score.  They won six games in the postseason and faced St. Rita, which whipped the Celtics 8-1, 14-1 and 10-4 during the regular season, in the state title game. The Celtics ended up winning 4-1.

Last year, the Celtics lost five games in a row in May by a combined score of 21-5 and found themselves back in the title game thanks to come classic come-from-behind postseason wins. They faced Mt. Carmel, which beat the Celtics 2-1 and 3-1 during the regular season and owned a 4-1 lead heading into the fifth inning of the title game. But the Celtics rallied again and won 6-5 in an eight-inning thriller.  

There were a lot of teams better than the Celtics those two years and yet they brought two trophies back to New Lenox.

The kicker is that the Celtics had much more talented teams in previous years that didn’t win titles. That’s the nature of this unfair but unpredictable and thrilling tournament.

The solution is a double-elimination tournament but that is not going to happen because it’s a logistical nightmare even without the threat of rain to botch things up. So we are stuck with what we have.

Have fun with it.

A good argument

When the Golden State Warriors passed the Bulls for the NBA’s best regular season record with a 73-9 record, there were plenty of people who thought they should have rested their stars the final game to concentrate on being fresh for the playoffs. The logic is that winning 73 games without winning the NBA title means nothing.

Actually, it would mean something. It’s rarer to win 73 games than it is to win an NBA title. It’s just not as important.

The ultimate prize is the championship – I get that. But that’s not guaranteed – especially with the San Antonio Spurs lurking in a few weeks. But a chance at rare history was just a game away so they were right to try to go for it. Sitting the stars and losing that last game and NOT winning the NBA title would be a double whammy that would truly mean nothing.

A lousy argument

The argument on who would win a seven-game series between the Bulls in their prime and the Warriors is one I hate hearing.

I covered the Bulls when they won their last three titles and loved watching their mastery. But that was 20 years ago and players now are bigger, stronger and faster now than they were 20 years ago just like the Bulls were bigger, stronger and faster than the teams that played in the 1970s.

The Bulls in their prime are never going to play the current Warriors so why waste energy fighting about it?

We have more important things to argue about – like who is going to win the Class 4A baseball title in June.