I take two different lessons away from what happened to the Yankees than Mike does — and, K-Lo’s observation notwithstanding, this does not necessarily bode well for my Mets.
First and most important: it is an old truism that good pitching stops good hitting … and even stops great hitting. The history of baseball turns up lots of teams with great offenses that finish … in third place, and lots of teams with great pitching and so-so hitting that win championships.
Great hitting teams can win lots of games in the regular season because, with too many teams due to expansion, there are a lot of pitchers who don’t belong in the major leagues. Great hitting teams thus get to face a ton of mediocre (or worse) pitching. But when it gets to the post-season, and the talent level evens out because you are playing only good teams, you just can’t expect to out-hit them. You have to out-pitch them. The best hitters fail 7 out of every 10 times at bat. You can’t rely on great hitting to win low-scoring, close games against teams that pitch and defend well. When the Yanks won, they did it with good hitting and great pitching. The combination of great hitting and mediocre pitching, which is what these Yankees had, is usually not good enough to beat good teams.
Second, the post-season structure is terrible. It’s ridiculous that after having the best record over 162 games, the best team has to play a short 3-out-of-5 series against a wild-card team (i.e., a team that didn’t even win its division and that, up until a few years ago, was shut out of the playoffs).
The best team does not generally win a 3-out-of-5 series — the hottest team does (or, better, the team that can throw three very good pitchers). The first-round series should be 4-out-of-7 (much better chance that the best, deepest team will win), and the wild card team should not get more than 2 home games (I’d make it Game 3 and Game 6). A division winner that achieves the best record has earned these advantages. Note: I say this as a Met fan who thinks the Tigers would have beaten the Yankees anyway — they won 95 games (compared to the Yankees’ 97) in a division that was much tougher than the Yankees’ division. But I don’t think the Tigers, a wild card team, should have been able to win this series by beating the Yanks twice in a row at home.