Subliminal Playoff Musings
By Paul Mahaney
Clarity and the baseball playoffs seldom (never) have anything in common. On the other hand, most experts (other non-psychics) like us predicted (guessed) correctly that the Cleveland Indians would not win the World Series this year.
Terry Francona is a good (great manager) having demonstrated that fact in Boston (twice) with the Red Sox. Now he has steered (carefully guided) the Indians to a playoff game (best of three would have been better), and although they fell short (into an abyss) the future for Cleveland looks much better now (wait till next year, besides what choice do you have?).
Meanwhile in Texas is there anyone (one) who has had more success in recent years than Ron Washington (Dusty Baker), and although having climbed the mountain, managed to miss the mountain top so completely?
Ron Washington is a wonderful (very good) manager, as is Dusty Baker, yet in the game (business) of baseball, winning it all (not just getting to the series) is paramount to the owners and the fans.
In Cincinnati manager (make that former manager) Dusty Baker discovered this unpleasant truth. What other city (Arlington and Texas Ranger fans maybe) could possibly blame Cincinnati for being impatient (San Francisco perhaps even Chicago)) with Dusty not winning a World Championship with all that talent?
Getting to the playoffs is not enough (ask Baltimore, Atlanta, and Washington)), winning once your there (if you can even get there (Kansas City and Seattle) is all that matters and you don’t have to explain that reality to teams like Baltimore or Atlanta (they would tune you out in any case).
Post-season baseball is the desired (only) destination on every teams mind when each franchise exits pre-season (and that could be shortened by one week in order to provide a best of three wild card series) into a regular season (perhaps post Bud Selig after next season ends).
Isn’t it fabulous (sickening) what money can buy (Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, and didn’t they make a sweet trade last year in order to improve, and boy didn’t they) and not buy (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or is it Orange County and New York Yankees or are they still in the Bronx?) in the business of baseball?
Even more amazing (beyond brilliant) is what spending little money can buy (the Oakland A’s —could be San Jose—and the Tampa Bay Rays—should that be Devil Rays—still like that name better by the way) or (the Miami Marlins—formerly Florida and I like Miami better, or the Houston Astros—formerly of the National League and still feels wrong) or not buy.
But not to worry in Detroit (because there is more important problems there) Jim Leyland and the Detroit (a city with no money even with some new federal money) Tigers, and the ever present St Louis (well supported by money and fans alike) Cardinals with Mike Matheny at the helm, are still around to remind us that it’s playoff baseball.
And who is not rooting for the long-suffering Pittsburgh Pirates (the St. Louis Cardinals that’s who) to continue winning through October? Nevertheless the rest of the planet loves a Pirate. That reminds me lets all go see Tom Hanks as “Captain Phillips” at the local Cineplex; he’s playing against the pirates too (okay we don’t like those kind of pirates-no charm).
Don’t you love October?
Speaking of love what you want to bet (no money that’s for sure) they don’t love Joe Maddon in Tampa and Bob Melvin in Oakland and how they work with nothing, and still perform miracles on par with the likes of Merlin (I know I wouldn’t).
Verlander loses 1 to 0 in Oakland to the A’s in a walk off in 9 last night and Detroit goes home shaking their heads (this series goes the limit despite what Tiger fans may think). The Red Sox lead the Rays heading to Tampa (crazy to think they won’t finish the fish there?).
The Dodgers are good (yuck where is the soap for my mouth) and going home even with the Braves (it’s all over but the crying), but I live in hope that Atlanta returns from Hollywood as the real stars. And Pittsburgh awaits the Cardinals arrival (can you say Pittsburgh is the Seattle of Baseball?), the noise in PNC Park will be heard all the way to St Louis (only a slight exaggeration).
The games in the long shadows of late afternoon are playing out in October as tradition demands (baseball at its finest), isn’t it wonderful!