Thursday, October 15, 2015

View from Section 29: Amazing Innings in the Playoffs

We've had a few amazing innings.

Ten of the 30 MLB teams made the playoffs. Not everyone agrees with that system, but it keep things alive in a lot of markets. Much better than in the 50's when there were no divisions, only 8 teams per league, and if the Yankees were in 1st by 40 games in July what was the point of any non-Yankee fan even paying attention?

Think of this year's possible combinations.

We could have had a New York v. New York World Series. (That happened in 2000. Didn't really watch that series - it was my least favorite combination of teams and had my least favorite outcome.) We could have had LA v. LA. We could have had an all-Missouri series, we could have had an all Texas ALCS. But the Angels caved on the last day of the regular season, the Astros thankfully put the Yankees away quickly, the Cardinals lost the NLDS, killing the all-MO idea and giving the looooonnnng-suffering Cubs fans a reason to celebrate.

The Blue Jays dropped two games at home and faced elimination on Sunday.

And on Monday. And on Wednesday. But they won all three. Wednesday's clincher at the Rogers Centre featured a truly bizarre 7th inning. The game was tied 2-2, and in the top of the 7th Rougnet Odor (doesn't that sound like a Game of Thrones name?) is on 3rd, Shin Shoo Choo is at bat. Jays catcher Russell Martin catches a 2-1 pitch and throws it back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez...but the throw hits Choo's bat and rolls toward the mound. Rougnet scoots home from 3rd and the Rangers lead, 3-2. The Blue Jays and the entire crowd of 50,000 at the Rogers Centre is majorly pissed. Beer cans are thrown onto the field. The umpires put on the headsets and check with New York. According to the rule book the ball is in play and the run scores. (This is correct. As a certified umpire I can attest that, unless a dead ball has been declared due to, say, a foul, any time a catcher makes a bad throw to the pitcher the ball is live and runners can advance at their own risk as long as there was no attempt at interference by the batter.) The issue was whether Choo's bat was hanging over the strike zone and therefore interfered with Russell's throw back to Sanchez. Headsets came off and New York said safe, no interference, the run counts. Blue Jays coach John Gibbons is now playing under protest, so there's a big P on the scoreboard (first time I'd seen that). Bumma for the Blue Jays, but only for a little while. In the bottom of the inning the Rangers make four errors to load the bases. Toronto gets a run in to tie the game, and with two on and two out Jose Bautista, who has the Soprano-esque nickname Joey Bats, launches one practically into the hotel on the 3rd deck, then does a bat flip for the ages and the Jays win, 6-3.

Meanwhile the Royals also faced elimination by the Astros on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Not sure for whom I was rooting. I'm not a huge fan of Texas in general, but the Astros do get props for knocking off the Yankees. After all, my #1 choice for winning the World Series is the Red Sox, but it was obvious by May that was not going to happen in 2015. My #2 choice (it was always #1 prior to 2004) is #Anyone But the Yankees. And Houston took care of that for us.

On Monday the Royals looked almost completely dead. I was listening as I drove back from Cape Cod and the 8th inning alone took me all the way from Bourne to Needham. That's like an hour. The Astros were leading, 3-2, and added 3 runs with back-to-back homers. Royals are down, 6-2, bottom 8, elimination game. ESPN has already named some Astro as the Player of the Game. But noooo. Bottom 8, KC gets 5 straight hits with an error mixed in and takes a 7-6 lead, then adds a couple more in the 9th for a 9-6 win to tie the series at 2-2. On Wednesday both the Royals and Astros faced elimination and Tom Bergeron said the Royals are safe and the Astros will now leave us, so that's it for the all-Texas ALCS threat. All the ex's live in Texas.

Now we're down to 5.

And tonight it will be four when either the Dodgers or the Mets advance. Whom do we want to win? Hmmm. I'm still a little annoyed about the Mets in 1986. If you watch the video there's an old lady right in the first row behind the plate rolling toilet paper onto the field while Bob Stanley is facing Mookie Betts in the 10th inning of Game 6. Sorry, I meant Mookie Wilson. Gotta keep my Mookies straight. But the toilet paper thing lacked class. Really though, the Mets didn't win that World Series as much as the Red Sox lost it. And anyone in NYC who wears a Mets cap is a non-Yankee fan. So that's a good thing. The Dodgers, though, did us a favor by taking Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett and saving the Sox enough money to splurge on Hanley and Panda. So I don't know. Maybe this winter they'll repeat the favor. Actually, they already know about Hanley, so that part is unlikely to happen. If the Dodgers wind up playing the Royals the uniforms will look too similar. If the Blue Jays play the Mets it will be between the biggest city in the USA and the biggest city in Canada. That would make it an actual World Series. "Back to the Future II" they predicted a Cubs World Series win in 2015. Against Miami. Okay, even if they're half right, wouldn't the vast majority of Americans want he Cubbies to finally win after 107 years?

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