Holy smokes! If you missed last night’s epic finale to the MLB season you need to get your life together and go watch the highlights. It is almost 24 hours since the last games finished up so I am going to assume you all know what happened and not avoid spoiling it for you with some analysis.
Back in London my mates and I would get together to watch sports every once and a while. The night consisted of at least three things: two televisions, a couple sacks of Old Milwaukee Tall Boys, and one savory appetizer cooked up by my man Andre. I should say that this night often took different forms of the three ingredients listed but it was always multiple sports media, drink, and food. One such time was actually during the Brier. We had two TVs fired up (one featuring curling the other hockey), Tim Horton’s coffee with Baileys, and Andre made some amazing little butter tarts. Now that’s a party.
Anyway, most often it was just beer, nachos, and two TVs streaming multiple games from computers that had two MLB.com subscriptions running simultaneously. That’s right – 8 games at once. I miss these nights. But last night, I was invited over to a co-worker’s place for some home-made Chicken Wings and beer, and we got the MLB stream going and watched the endings of all 4 games.
And, Holy Cow! what a finish.
At one point last night the Red Sox were beating the Orioles 3-2 in the bottom of the 7th, the Yankees were beating the Rays 7-0 in the bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals were beating the Astros 7-0 in the bottom of the 7th, and the Braves were beating the Phillies 3-2 in the top of the 9th. Those were actually happening all at once, no joke. With Boston and Tampa, and St. Louis and Atlanta all tied for their league’s respective Wild-Card spots it looked as though the Red Sox were going to avoid a massive collapse and that the Cardinals and Braves were heading for a 1-game playoff.
Then all shit hit the fan.
I’ll save you the details but with the exception of the Cardinals everything flipped by the end of the night. Tampa came back, Boston blew the lead in the the 9th, and the Braves lost in extra innings. Unbelievable. Would you believe me if I told you I called the Dan Johnson pinch-hit homerun, the Evan Longoria walk-off homerun, and the Greg Kimbrel blown save in Atlanta? Well I did. So you should believe when I tell you what’s gonna happen in the AL and NL division series’.
New York Yankees (East) vs. Detroit Tigers (Central)
In a lot of ways this series reminds me of when these two clubs met in the ALDS back in ’06. Detroit, riding some hot pitching and big swingers into the postseason, overpowered the Yankees and their suspect starting pitching. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter disappeared offensively, and the Tigers waltzed on to the ALCS. I think we can expect much of the same this year. In the post-season it always comes down to pitching and the Tigers may not have the best rotation in the American League but they have the best pitcher. If Verlander pitches twice, that’s two wins guaranteed and I would take Scherzer, Porcello, and Brad Penny over A.J. Burnett anyday. The same thing that cost the Yankees against the Rangers last year will bite them again this year: weak starting pitching.
Tigers in 5
Texas Rangers (West) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (Wild-Card)
A re-match from last year’s ALDS but this time the identities have switched; the Rangers are the favourites with the playoff veterans and solid pitching staff while the Rays are the upstarts who snuck into the post-season on the last day. However, I don’t expect the outcome to be much different. The Rangers are massively underrated. They have a balanced rotation with C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Alexei Ogando, and Dave Holland, a fast and powerful offense, and are terrific on defense. They are supremely talented but nobody seems to be giving them much of a chance against the Rays who have series questions at starting pitching and on defense. I think it’s because most people look for those hot teams who have been playing playoff-like baseball for months and don’t have to make too many adjustments for the actual postseason. I, on the other hand, prefer talent.
Rangers in 4
Philadelphia Phillies (East) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Wild-Card)
Did you know that in the history of baseball these two teams have never met in the post-season? Ya! True story. Combined, they have been playing for like 250 years. That’s nuts. It actually has a lot to do with Philadelphia being terrible for about 100 of those years more than anything though. They ain’t terrible anymore. Philly is the most complete team out in the playoffs. Anybody who can send out Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels or Roy Oswalt in a short 5 game series is cheating. That’s almost as scary as the Arizona Diamondbacks starting Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, and then Curt Schilling again, in the 2001 playoff. Scary. St. Louis showed a lot of sack to fight their way into the playoffs but the Phillies are just too much.
Phillies in 3
Milwaukee Brewers (Central) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (West)
My buddy Phil – a regular at the beer and baseball evenings in London – is a huge Brewers fan. He’s the reason why we drank Old Mil during the games, and also the reason we were always watching a Brewers game too. He’s even in the lottery to get some playoff tickets at Miller Park and is hoping to Buchie that there is a Tigers/Brewers World Series so he doesn’t have to drive so far. By association then, I am cheering for the Brewers this playoffs even though this year’s edition of the D-backs is my kind-of team (i.e. under talented and full of ex-Jays). I think this series will be the best of the 4 division series’ – hands down. The clubs are even and if Arizona’s pitching can keep Fielder, Braun, Hart, et al in the ballpark, then they have a chance. I’ll be rooting for Johnny Mac and Aaron Hill to give the Brew-crew fits but I ultimately believe that Milwaukee is just too good to lose a short series.
Brewers in 5