The Major League Baseball playoffs are right around the corner. It’s my favorite time to the sporting year to be honest. In all honesty, what’s not to love? There’s a ton of high stakes drama, every pitch of every at bat is important, and the games go on for hours. I know people bitch about how long the games have gotten, but there’s nothing quite like going to bed at 2 in the morning and turning around and waking up at 6 to go to work… and then repeating it the following night for the next 3 or 4 weeks. I love it.
The whole thing is made even better when pennant races are involved. It’s like getting bonus playoff baseball before the layoffs even begin. This year is no different. What once looked set in stone has gone to hell in a hand basket in the American League. The Red Sox, who led the wild card by 9 games headed into September are in the midst of a free fall of historically epic proportions.
Thanks to a September that even the Pirates could look at with disgust, the Red Sox have turned a 9 game lead into a 2 game lead with less than a month to go. For a fan base that is typically known for its paranoia and chicken little
mentality, this isn’t helping their psyches at all… or their livers for that matter. Sure, they broke the curse and won the ’04 and ’07 World Series, but even that level of success can’t fully fade the scars of yesteryear. In other words… Red Sox fans are freaking the f#*@ out.
Don’t believe me? Go take a look at Bill Simmons’ Twitter feed over the past 22 days. It’s like a slow descent on a spiral stair case headed for depression, broken spirits, and pure joylessness. In other words, it’s a descent into sports hell. The pre-2004 version of himself is back… and it’s awesome.
I also offer exhibit B. Through this blog I’ve come to follow a Red Sox fan blog entitled “Too Soxy for My Shirt.” Over the course of the season I’ve followed “Too Soxy” and it’s author Lauren as the Red Sox battled a terrible start, then climbed to the top of the AL, and now… well, now this. In a way she’s shown me that there are real people out there who actually root for the Red Sox, it’s not just Ben Affleck. I know, I’m shocked too.
Anyways, throughout the season I’ve enjoyed the times when she’s gotten down on the Red Sox… mainly because I’m an Indians fan and when the Red Sox and Yankees screw up, I find joy in it. Plus, she’s hilarious. When this September swoon started I was giddy watching her descend into the pit of Boston despair. Twenty-some days later… I’m worried. If this is an indication of how Red Sox fans react with the possibility of making bad history, how the hell will she and the rest of “The Nation” react if the Red Sox actually follow through and blow this thing? I’m not sure I want to find out. Or do I? Either way, back away from the ledge Lauren! There’s still 2012 and beyond to think about.
Honestly, despite how terrible the Red Sox have been, Lauren, Bill Simmons, Ben Affleck, and the rest of Red Sox Nation might be ok. While they continue to struggle and lose 3 of 4 to the like of the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Rays have been just as bad against the Yankees this week. The Rays have been unable to capitalize on Boston’s floundering and find themselves in the same place they were 4 days ago… 2.5 games back. This might be the most comical wild card race in recent memory. Does anyone want to win this thing?
I think someone does and that someone is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the United States of America of Earth. The Angels are coming on strong behind something neither the Red Sox or Devil Rays have right now. Quality pitching and timely hitting. Granted, the Rays pitching has been a lot better than Boston’s of late and can run out David Price every 5 days, but Anaheim’s 1-2 punch of Jared Weaver and Dan Haren is flat out scary. Good luck with that in October should they actually win this thing.
As of this morning, while the rest of America is focusing on the shenanigans of the Red Sox and Rays, the Angels have climbed to within 2.5 games of the wild card lead and have officially made this a three horse race. Logic tells me the Red Sox should win this thing. They lead the pack and control their own destiny. It doesn’t get much better than that. Of course, once you take into account they’re 5-16 since September 1 they become a bit terrifying.
So who is the favorite?
I have no idea. The schedules don’t really seem to help at all. Under normal circumstances I would say Tampa is screwed, Boston is kinda screwed, and Anaheim is in the best position.
- Tampa: 1 vs. New York, 3 vs. Toronto, 3 vs. New York
- Boston: 3 vs. New York, 3 vs. Baltimore
- Anaheim: 1 vs. Toronto, 3 vs. Oakland, 3 vs. Texas
Tampa has been terrible against New York and the Blue Jays aren’t exactly awful this year. Good thing those games are in Tampa because that home field advantage should really help… oh wait, nevermind. A three game series between
the Yanks and Sox could go either way and if this past week is any indication, the Orioles are enjoying playing spoiler. Throw in the fact that all 6 games are on the road and that could be trouble for Boston. Of course, that could mean less pressure since they won’t be playing in front of the tightened up butt holes of 37,000 Sox fans. Meanwhile, the Rangers get the lowly A’s at home for 3 games, and then a Texas team that is sure to be resting players and setting their playoff rotation for 3 games, also at home.
I think I like the Angels. They’re playing well, they’re at home, and the schedule works out perfectly for them. There are just too many questions right now circling the Rays and Red Sox and the Yankee factor in their schedules doesn’t help things at all.
Of course I’m usually wrong about everything, so who am I to say what will or won’t happen? If my past predictions are any indication, the Red Sox will probably win their next 6 games and make this whole thing a moot point. So if that happens, you’re welcome Boston fans.
What am I really rooting for? A three team playoff. We’ve had one game playoffs in the past for the wild card spot in either league, but I can’t recall ever having a three team playoff. That would be incredibly entertaining. Throw in the fact that the NL wild card race looks like it’s going to come down to the wire between Atlanta, St. Louis, and San Francisco and this last week of baseball could end up being amazing. Six teams… Two three team playoffs for 1 spot in each league…
I love playoff baseball.