Every time I decide to write a baseball post, I always feel the need to go on some sort of “Mission to Civilize” rant about how despite the drop in TV ratings, African-American participation and pace of the game, that baseball is not becoming like Boxing, Horse-Racing and on the brink of the sports no one pays attention to anymore, Golf.
Then October comes around.
Especially this October, more so than the last few. No longer do we have to talk about baseball in a future tense, that the stars of tomorrow are around the corner.
They aren’t around the corner, they are right in front of you, hitting 450 foot bombs that make any fan appreciate what they are seeing.
That sound will never get old.
The first game of the 2014 MLB Postseason set the tone like no other could, creating one of the wildest and entertaining starts to an October in recent memory. On the brink of washing away 30 years of suffering for one game, once chance to be in the postseason again, the Kansas City Royals fought their way back against the Oakland A’s, who barely made it into the playoffs after posting the best record in baseball from April to June.
A team that is built with no real superstar, no Royals player has hit over 20 home runs or 100 RBI’s this season. Instead they bunt guys over, steal bases and win games with pitching and defense. That isn’t the sabermetrics that has everyone in-over-their-head in baseball, that’s what some may say, they way the game is suppose to be played.
They would dramatically win a game their way, in the bottom of the 12th, the Royals, a team that has suffered the most losses in a 30 year stretch, sent a crowd, town into complete oblivion.
Oh, and on Sunday night, they would complete the series sweep against a more expensive, talented team in the Angels, doing it their way, of course.
The Royals aren’t the only team that continues to make this postseason already one of the better ones in past years. The Giants and Nationals went 18 innings Saturday night, the price of 2 games for one win has the Giants sitting in the driver’s seat still in San Francisco. Another team that relies on pitching, defense and timely hitting is also handling a team that had the best record in the NL.
But that is the postseason in baseball. It isn’t like in football, where momentum heading into the playoffs is everything, or in the NBA when the team with the best player(s) usually prevails. In baseball, your guess is as good as mine.
For instance, if you told me that Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright, quite possibly the two best pitchers in the NL, would combine to let up 5 runs in the first game of the NLDS, I wouldn’t listen to you to begin with. They combined for 14 runs instead. That’s October for you.
Arguably the two best teams in baseball, let alone the league, facing off in a divisional series. Cruel? Maybe. But then again so is the postseason.
Just ask the Detroit Tigers. On July 31st, it seemed as if the Tigers were headed to the World Series. Landing former Cy Young winner David Price in a 3-team deal from the Rays. The staff of Verlander, Scherzer and Price, all Cy young winners, in their own right, are also going home.
That’s because the Baltimore Orioles are a helluva ball club. They don’t necessarily have a go to ace, I wouldn’t say their pitching staff is as good as anyone else’s in the playoffs. But they hit the laces out of the ball. Even without young stars like 3B Manny Machado, C Matt Wieters or even suspended 1B Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz (who led the Majors in HR’s this season with 40) has been clutch, hitting one in the clinching game against the Tigers.
But they are far from a one man show, the O’s are. Collectively, this team has been able to rally around one another despite missing key players throughout the season, and according to stud CF Adam Jones, the motto won’t be changing heading into the ALCS. “If we play as a team, we can do anything.”
Both the Dodgers and Nationals have their backs against the wall going into this afternoon and tonight. But judging by the way the 2014 postseason has been going, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a few Game 5’s on our hands after today.
But like I said before, your guess is as good as mine.
Completely unpredictable, rivetingly dramatic and overwhelmingly intense.
You could point out all the flaws in today’s MLB. But then October comes around and we’re reminded every year why they’re is nothing quite like Postseason baseball.