Life Is Sad

The only problem with the fact that baseball is awesome is that sometimes it isn’t. Case in point: this year’s divisional playoff series. Underdog lovers everywhere were united in excitement at the number of unlikely contending teams. Such a variety of desirable match-ups! Such potential! We could have had, like, the Mona Lisa of playoff pictures.

But then, just like that, all such dreams were gone.

Oakland? Out of it. No mo’ moneyball.

O’s? Schmos.

Nationals? Defeated the Cardinals like Dewey defeated Truman.

It is a reminder to us all… sometimes, life is sad. As a Cubs fan, I don’t feel I really needed this particular memo. And, let me tell you. Being handed it by smug St. Louis loyalists ain’t helping much.

To those of my readers who are actually fans of the aforementioned clubs, you have my sincerest sympathies. I know how you feel, and then some. You are welcome to join me in the waiting-til-next-year queue. There is plenty of room.

I guess now all I can say is Go Tigers, but it is with very little enthusiasm.

I think it would be more fitting to close with: Here’s to 2013. May it be kinder to us all.

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About last night…

I haven’t much excuse for not posting anything of considerable substance these past few weeks. I can only say that the well of writing inspiration has been bone dry as of late. It’s September… I’m a Cubs fan. (I’m sure the world understands.) In any case, if the events of last night weren’t enough to electroshock me back into a baseball state of mind, I cannot imagine what would be.

Baseball fans witnessed not one, but TWO of the most improbable comebacks/collapses in the history of the game. Pity the Braves and Red Sox nations. I have seen my fellow Cub fans rejoicing all over the place that some of the heat may at last be lifted from our 1969 squad; no longer shall they and they alone be looked upon as the pinnacle of baseball failures! Welcome back to the club, Boston!

The Cardinals comeback/Braves collapse, of course, is the least enthusing of the two. I don’t look on Atlanta with an unfriendly eye, and the Cards are, well, the Cards. There is one circumstance from this that I do look on with utter and jubilant satisfaction. Around a month ago (perhaps a bit more than that) my brother and I made a bet regarding a certain St. Louis first baseman. I thought he would finish out the year hitting below .300 for the first time in his celebrated career. The bro insisted he would finish on top of the mark, as he always has. Initially, my brother suggested we bet a penny on our little disagreement. Feeling confident, I insisted we up it to a nickel. We did not forget our friendly little bet, and would update each other on where it stood several times a week. Going into last night, Mr. Pujols’ average was sitting at exactly .300, or .301 (I don’t recollect.) I am happy to report, he went just 1-for-5 against Astros pitching and has finished 2011 with a batting average of .299. How’s that for drama? How’s that for sibling rivalry? Time to cough up that nickel, brother.

The Tampa Bay Rays comeback, and the Boston Red Sox ultimate demise is, in my opinion, the most exciting thing. Of this year. And… of a lot of additional years. A few weeks ago, the lowly Rays were nine games behind in the wildcard standings. Everyone was talking about how dumb and unfair it is how the Yankees and Red Sox have a stranglehold on the AL East and wildcard. Something must be done, people said. Well, something was done. And the Rays did it.

Last night around 10:00, it looked like it was just going to be one of those disappointing almost-great-stories after all. With Boston up on Baltimore late in their game, and Tampa trailing by 7 to the Yankees in the 8th, I supposed the whole thing had come to nothing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was thinking things like, “Oh well, they made it interesting” and “They should be proud of themselves, they put up a great fight” and all that. And then, all of a sudden, BOOM! 7-run deficit… gone! I was still listening to the Cubs (who, appropriately, fell 9-2 at the hands of the Padres) at that point and it was amusing to hear the updates and reactions from Pat, Keith, and Judd. I think everyone was more interested in what was going on in Florida than in San Diego. Who could help it?

As the Rays and Yanks headed into extra innings, I switched over to watch them on MLB.tv, keeping tabs of the O’s and Sox on the side. Moments after Jonathan Papelbon imploded, allowing the Orioles to score 2 runs and snatch the win, my Twitter feed exploded. And then Evan Longoria sealed the deal with a walk-off homer for the Rays and it exploded some more.

I think everyone had the same reaction: “Did that just happen?” The chances, according to this article on Yahoo? One in 278,000,000. One in two hundred and seventy eight million. Think about that for a second.

If anything outnumbered the outcries of, “Can you believe it?!?!”, it was “This is why I love baseball.” This is, indeed, why we love baseball. If I may quote from the one and only Dirk Hayhurst (who Twittered much last night, to the delight of all), “What’s great is, this is what you play for all season: a moment to decide something, to feel destiny in you hands and touch its consequences”, “Tonight is baseball magic, the tangible, palpable kind that reminds you why you love the game—for feelings like this, perfect and timely.” Truth.

I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Who’s ready for some postseason baseball???

I like looking at this picture and thinking about it out of context. The Orioles celebrate their last place finish after the final game of 2011, Etc.,

Tee hee.

Predictorama! 2011: Something stirs in the East

With the beginning of the regular season just a few weeks off, it is once again time to dive into that fun, murky chasm that is MLB prognosticating. Folks from here to Chula Vista are consulting crystal balls and asking the questions they (apparently) can’t wait to know the answers to… who will arise victorious in the AL East? How bad will the NL Central actually be? Who will surprise us all? Who will fail miserably?

I am here, of course, to share with you the divination of my own crystal ball… it may have a huge crack in it, but I’m pretty sure it still works.

Today we will kick things off with a look at the American and National League East divisions. BEHOLD:

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AL EAST:

Brett Gardner will steal 70 bases this year. Baltimore will officially change its name to “The City of Misfit Cubs”. With the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, Boston will will 231 games. Toronto will finish in 4th place, winning 15 more games than any NL Central team.

First place: Boston Red Sox

Last place: Baltimore Orioles

AL Wildcard winner: New York Yankees

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NL East:

Raul Ibanez will take up playing the ukulele. The Phillies geriatric offense will be their Achilles heel… you heard it here first, folks. The Washington Nationals will regret signing Jayson Werth to that obscene contract by the end of the first week of April.

First Place: Philadelphia Phillies

Last Place: New York Mets

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Predictorama 2010: Wagons East!

This is the continuance of my 2010 divisional projections… Last week I covered the West, now it’s time to tackle the big East! So let’s giddyup!

National League East – Will the Phillies keep up a stranglehold on the division? Will the Mets hit rock bottom? Will this be one of those strange random years when the Marlins win the World Series? If you’re looking for real answers to these questions, I’m sorry… you have come to the wrong place.

Philadelphia Phillies: Paparazzi will photograph Ryan Howard eating a sub at Quiznos and scandal will ensue. During a game in July, a stray kitty cat will find it’s way onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and Chase Utley will adopt it on the spot. I predict that the Phillies will not be the best team in the NL. Not because I believe it, but because I just really want to.

Florida Marlins: I’ll finally uncover the truth of Taylor Tankersley’s mysterious origins. Hanley Ramirez will learn to wink with both eyes.

Atlanta Braves: Though Tom Glavine has retired from baseball, expect him to soon announce a new deal with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers. Jo-Jo Reyes will still be the only major leaguer with that first name.

New York Mets: Troubled mascot Mr. Met will run away from home. The health of the Mets’ key players will continue to crumble like a stale cookie. Someone will invent a memory erasing machine (like in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) so everyone will finally be able to forget 1969.

Washington Nationals: The Nats will make the postseason (YES THEY WILL) due entirely to the acquisition of Jason Marquis. Adam Kennedy will pitch. Nyjer Morgan will be my fantasy steal of the year.

American League East – The most frightening league in the Majors. In so many ways…

New York Yankees: Derek Jeter will introduce some exciting new products in his Avon line! Nick Swisher won’t change a bit. I will go on loving Brett Gardner no matter what he does.

Boston Red Sox: Jonathan Papelbon’s face won’t get any prettier. The green monster will eat Jeremy Hermida. Tim Wakefield will throw some more knuckle-balls.

Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton will melt your heart. Carlos Pena will sign your taco.

Toronto Blue Jays: Bench coach Brian Butterfield will go on the Brian Butterfield diet plan and gain 23 pounds in the first two weeks. Edwin Encarnacion will be eaten by a garfoose.

Baltimore Orioles: The O’s will sign a member of their grounds crew to a major league contract and he’ll become the ace of their pitching staff.

“Don’t you get any foolish ideas that magic will solve all your problems, because it won’t…”

… nevertheless, I am sharing this snazzy tune today.
Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” is my favorite baseball team theme song, for obvious reasons. It is played at Wrigley Field following every Cubs victory, so I’m in a good mood every time I hear it. I’m not too proud to admit that were I a fan of some other NL team, I probably wouldn’t be so fond of it.
Anyway, “Go Cubs Go” is #1, but “Orioles Magic” is still quite amazing. I dare you to listen and NOT get this catchy number stuck in your head.
O! R! I! O! L! E! S!