St. Louis Cardinals

Baseball Hell For This Fan

I freely admit to having some irrational hate towards some players.  As a wise man named Metstradamus once told me, though, YOU (the collective “you”) LOVE TO HATE.  Tis true I suppose.

Some of my irrational hate comes from my own team.  Like Nelson Figueroa and Joe McEwing?  Take a flying leap, both of yas.  Angel Pagan can kick rocks as far as I’m concerned.

For teams not my own, I do not like Cody Ross — though I had to root for him (blech) in 2010 when he singlehandedly kicked the Phillies asses.  I react to him much like Bluto reacts to seeing Kent Dorfman’s face on the screen in the Delta House.

Oh and don’t get me started on the Phils.  I hope Cliff Lee’s wife got to see the “best” of what Philly has to offer once they started losing this year.

But the ALCS and NLCS in 2012.  This is unique because none of these teams have any redeeming qualities to me.  None that I can get behind and root for.  Not that I like to have an active rooting interest.  I guess without my team in these games, it’s tough to get emotionally invested.  So while I can have a benign interest, I typically like to look at these games at I would any regular season game that I happen to be watching on TV or in person when my team is not playing.  Like being able to acknowledge a good play.  Seeing a monster home run.  Protesting a bad call (trust me – on the sides of a bad call, the opposing team agrees, the team in question disagrees).

This year is tough.  I don’t like any of the teams.  Possibly irrationally, possibly good.  But if irrational hate is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

The Cardinals.  It’s funny why I don’t particularly care for them this year.  You’d think I might like them more since Tony LaRasshat isn’t around.  But no.  It’s more than that.  I could say that it was 2006 that did it for me, but I’m not gonna go there.  Fact is, the Mets beat themselves more in that series than the Cards did.  But no.  It’s what @Mezzanine76 said, and it’s what I’m thinking about Carlos Beltran.

 

I want Carlos Beltran to win a ring…I do NOT want him to win one with the Cardinals.  I mean, that’s almost too easy.  The team he has absolutely owned in postseasons, that he always kills…hell, he’s just a monster in the postseason.

Is that selfish of me?  Well, of course it is.  I hope Beltran hits like .900 in this series.  I don’t want his team to win.

Plus I guess I still have some sore bones about last year’s World Series.  Fuck the Texas Rangers for making that happen, and fuck the Cardinals.

(And I’m still upset that the Nats had to lose that way in Game Five.  For more on that, read Dave Nichols’ post at District Sports Page – you will not be disappointed).

That would probably make you say, then you’d be rooting for the San Francisco Giants. Well, no.  Not exactly.  The cruelest joke is that I love their stadium, love the city (only other place I’d live besides New York City), but their fans do NOT deserve this team at all.  I was there in 2010, prior to them winning.  I never met more of a douchelord fan base in my life (up there with Yankees and Dodgers).

I realized something though.  They were antsy.  If we thought that the lack of Mets history in CitiField was bad at first when it opened, it had NOTHING on AT&T Park, where they celebrated pretty much everything from the New York era.  Prior to 2010, no San Francisco Giant team had ever won a World Series…the New York Giants had.

I pitied them. Then they won.  One of my favorite pitchers is Tim Lincecum.  I had his bobblehead.  They have a great mascot.  Yay, Lou Seal!  So I was okay with it.

Since then, every single Giants fan comes to CitiField and now travels well.  I do not like their fans.  Probably more of a hipster-esque Phillies fan base, if you can believe it.  Maybe they’re better now these days, but I have yet to come in contact with a more angry fan base.

Angel Pagan.  Never cared for him as a Met.  Now a postseason hero.  I *heart* contract years.

Which is probably the ultimate in Mets hell, really.  Cardinals have Beltran, Giants have Pagan.   Mets have Andres Torres.

If there is a baseball god, he’s not a very nice one.  And (s)he certainly does not like the Mets.

Then there’s the ALCS.  I was excited about the possibility of the Baltimore Orioles advancing, and I really liked the Oakland A’s story this year.  Neither team advanced.  Therefore, the other teams can go fuck themselves.

Okay, maybe Detroit has something good.  I like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Prince Fielder.  But I still have some irrational hate towards Miguel Cabrera for Roger Dorn’ing a ball during the All-Star Game in 2006.  Also because he was a Marlin.  Oh and Jose Valverde can take a long walk off a short pier as far as I’m concerned (and this was before the blow up last night).

I have no choice but to get behind them because of who they are playing in the Series.

That’s the Yankees.  After Raul Ibanez hit a game tying home run in the 9th inning against the Tigers last night, @DyHrdMet had this to say.

And it’s true.  The sense of entitlement is astounding.  Not to say that there aren’t some really true fans…but their justification of lack of sellouts during the postseason, moving the riff raff from the top levels to the seats behind home plate that clearly weren’t full, pricing their own fans out during a prime time game on a weekend…quite possibly the bandwagon is falling apart.  Honestly, though, I was ripped apart for suggesting that there are only Yankee fans who come out during October.  Why?  THERE ARE AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM.  I say I don’t get emotionally involved during playoffs…they have fans who ONLY get emotionally involved during the playoffs.  They are not fans.  They suck.

Oh and the booing.  The friends I have who actually ARE lifelong Yankees fans were calling out the fans who actively booed (in no particular order) A-Rod, Curtis Granderson (really???), Nick Swisher (okay, maybe he deserves it).  Say what you will about A-Rod and Swisher (and I have plenty to say about that dickhead), Granderson, folks??? Really???

Of course there are things I’m not going to gloat about.  As much as I don’t like the team or particularly care for him, you wouldn’t want to wish Derek Jeter’s injury on anyone.

But can I find a more completely unrootable team?  Probably not.

A-Rod – BWAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Okay, look.  I defend a guy like Jason Bay because you can tell his downturn bothers him, and he still cares.  But is there more of an unlikable character than A-Rod in sports?  No, not really.  And say what you want about Bay – he’s only getting paid an average of $16.5 mm per year AND has only one more year left on his contract.  A-Rod gets $27.5mm.  No question who the bigger bust is…especially since A-Rod has FIVE MORE YEARS left.

Raul Ibanez.  Is there a more cruel joke than to see a former 2009 champion Philadelphia Phillies and seeing him absolutely turn the heat on in the playoffs?

Nick Swisher is just in general a dislikable douchebag.   Robinson Cano is a big baby.  WAH!  And if the term “run support” wasn’t invented for a guy like Philip Hughes, then I don’t know why it was ever coined.

Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano…all of ’em.  Can’t stand a one.  Maybe it has to do with some irrational Yankees hatred.  But I’ve liked some players on the Yankees over the year.  At least, I think I have.  Hell, I’ve even admitted to liking Chase Utley on the Phillies.  I have had to have liked somebody on the Yankees…right?  Right?

Maybe Mo Rivera.  He seems like a decent human being.

Lastly, watching the last few games they’ve played, it amazes me just how far the Yankees have gone this year.  With all that power (on paper) in their lineup, you’d think they wouldn’t leave RISP after RISP all the time.  If the Tigers don’t take them down in four games, they’re nothing but a fraud.

But you see, there I go again.  Caring about the outcome of games that my team isn’t even playing.

So ya happy now???

No, not really.  The playoffs suck when your team isn’t in it.

But they really suck when you can find no redeeming qualities about any of the teams playing.

Right now, I’m rooting for a flood.

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Refuse To Get Up In Arms, Literally

If I could muster up some faux outrage for the slight of R.A. Dickey, who is by far and away the well-deserved candidate to start the All-Star Game, I would.  But I won’t.  For several reasons.

I’ve made no bones that I think the All-Star Game is just one ginormous shit show.  The game “counts,” yet I would venture to say that about 80% of the starters, let alone those who have made the roster simply because there needs to be a team representative, won’t even sniff the playoffs.  Besides personal gain (like All-Star bonuses, etc), what incentive is there for say, a Miguel Cabrera who played for the Marlins in 2006 to not Roger Dorn an easily playable ball, leading to Trevor Hoffman’s meltdown which essentially turned me off for the All-Star Game for good? And yes, I brought that up the other night on the Happy Recap’s podcast, because unlike 1986, I won’t get over it.  Dammit.

But there’s more.  Tony LaRussa pulled a Mr. 3000 and retired right after his team, dark horse candidates for the World Championship, won the World Series last year.  Besides San Francisco Giants fans stuffing the ballot box so less deserving players can start (Pablo Sandoval, really people?), is there a point to this whole thing?

Not really.  Except once again, personal accolades for the individual and home field advantage determination for the winner.

Makes sense to me.

(Editor’s Note: No, not really)

There are so many inconsistencies with it this year though.  Okay, so Mets fans all know and love R.A. Dickey, he’s awesome, hard-working, published author, a cool dude.  In essence, he’s one of us.  He’s had a monster break out year.  Well, I was on ANOTHER podcast earlier this season when someone asked if I thought he was a Cy Young candidate.  I said I’d need to see more consistent work after the second half (and his last two games didn’t look too hot, so take that with a grain of salt), but that even if he did coast it out and was awesomely awesome, chances are, the knuckleball, seen as an eccentric pitch, would be voted against him.  Turns out I was half right, as it worked against him for the All-Star Game start.

My favorite explanation was that LaRussa was not sure that Buster Posey, a dude who probably shouldn’t have even been starting anyway, might not be able to catch a knuckle ball.  Well, if Josh Thole is the only catcher, name him to the roster…or does Jason Varitek need to be called out of retirement…I guess Dickey is going to be throwing a lot of passed balls because NO ONE knows how to catch a knuckleball.

Seriously?  THAT’S YOUR REASON?

Now that I got that circular logic out of the way, I refuse to be upset about this.  It goes against everything that I stand for, really, regarding this exhibition.  This is what I find hilarious – an “exhibition” game, that “matters.”  Isn’t that the very definition of something that’s, I don’t know, a total paradox?  Sounds like it. But I was only an English lit major, what the hell do I know?

So my friend Sully writes a column today about how Matt Cain starting is a good thing.  Since I respect his opinion, and even when he bashes the Mets, I tend to agree with him from time to time, I wanted to address it here.  Like usual, I agree with some, disagree with other points.  Like one is Matt Cain paid his dues.  So, R.A. Dickey, who had an incredible journey to the majors, learned to knuckleball, published a book, wants to lecture on Faulkner and English lit masters when he’s retired…that’s bupkis?

R.A. Dickey has only been a star for a few months, consistently he argues.  Well, while I’d agree with one part (see my paragraph above about how I felt that he needed more of a body of work for me to consider a Cy Young, let alone a NL All-Star start, which by the way was totally deserved), but I have to ask…if not the All-Star Game…and let’s say for argument sake that he bowls over the competition, leads the Mets to the NL East title and the World Series…would that preclude him from getting a Cy Young…BECAUSE he *may* be in fact a one-hit wonder?

Does that make sense?  I mean, chances are, Dickey may come down to earth, and be more level in the second half…so that might not be Cy worthy.  But an All-Star start…that’s ever a time to have a so-called maybe one-hit wonder start.

I did agree, however, that Dickey coming into the game will give Mets fans a reason to stay tuned in middle innings.

But the All-Star Game is supposed to be based on merit, the cream of the crop, the top of the class.

Yet there’s the other side that it’s an exhibition game that “counts,” and the fans are voting their favorite players in.

Forgive me if I can’t muster up enough of an attempt to give a shit.

Yes, I did write about it, I did acknowledge it when I promised myself I wouldn’t.  The fact is, I could get upset about R.A. Dickey not starting the game, I could get upset that David Wright wasn’t voted as a starter because a fanbase 3000 miles away managed to game the system.

But that would actually make me admit that I care about the All-Star Game.  And I don’t.  In fact, I found out that Prince Fielder won the HR Derby once again on Twitter.  I didn’t watch.  I may watch tonight just to see my players play.  But that’s about it.

If the players and manager refuse to care about it, why should I?

Must Be The Season Of The Pitch(er)

There is a big story in baseball this season, and it’s not the long ball, it’s the pitcher’s duel.

It’s the season of the pitcher, folks, and to me, baseball is only as good as its pitchers are.

Think about it.  On a team, there’s often the old school adage of “pitching wins championships.”  Mostly, of the starting pitching variety. Even the bullpen figures in, occasionally, since a strong bullpen is depended upon during the long postseason if your team should be lucky enough to participate.

Look at my team.  The Mets have been blessed with great starting pitching, from Seaver and Koosman, to Doc, Sid, Bobby O and Ronnie, Al Leiter, even Fresno Bobby Jones.   But for years and years, it was always about the no-hitter.  The goddamn NO no-hitter, I should say.

But forget about Johan Santana’s no-hitter two weeks ago.  Okay.  Remember it.  But that’s not the point.  Clearly, the story this year has been the knuckleball and most importantly, R.A. Dickey’s renaissance surge to not only make his case to start the All-Star Game this year, but quietly mounting a strong campaign for the NL’s best pitcher hardware.  Time will tell, but although Santana’s no-hitter will christen the Mets’ books as the historic one, if you saw R.A. Dickey’s start on June 13th against the Tampa Bay Rays, clearly, that was the more dominant pitching performance…BJ Upton bedamned.

The funniest part of that story is that the Mets actually put in an appeal with MLB to get the first hit (an infield variety by Upton) charged as an error by David Wright.  So let’s see — go 50 years without a no-hitter, than two in two weeks!  Okay, gotcha.  I doubt that MLB will reverse it, but hey.  Goes to show just how dominant pitching has been.

Jered Weaver started the trend in Anaheim with his no-hitter.  I remember my friend Sully, from Sully Baseball, telling everyone to turn the game on, as the 9th inning approached.  He was so excited, Weaver had to pee between innings!

Then came a potentially cruel joke, with former Mets pitching prospect Phil Humber pitching a PERFECT GAME for the Chicago White Sox.  While he’s been lackluster (at best) since, the guy who was traded to get Johan Santana was pitching a perfect game, and the Mets didn’t even have a stinkin’ no-hitter.  Point is he can suck for the rest of his natural born life, and he pitched a perfect game.

Then came Johan.  Then came the Seattle Mariners’ combined no-hitter effort of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Really?  What is fascinating about those two no-hitters is that they were against strong offensive teams.

Lastly, Matt Cain of the San Francisco pitched a perfect game on June 13.  MATT CAIN who walks, like, everybody.

Some pessimists may say that the achievement isn’t as notable now.  Other say that the change in data sharing in baseball has improved for the defensive side of the game, and not the offense.  Yet at the same time, fans dig the pitchers duel.

It’s true.  A home run derby in the most literal sense is a reason to drink at games because you really don’t need to pay attention.  Great pitching performances leave you on the edge of your seat.

Give me a call when the San Diego Padres break their no-no-hitter drought, but in the meantime, I think the season of the pitcher is about friggin time.  It’s more than just the stats, with Dickey leading the NL in wins.  The pitching landscape is just so interesting right now, and the pitching performance is back.

I love it.

Dirty Laundry

A little bit of loyalty goes a long way...for fans AND players.

I was 13 years old when I first had my heart broken.  True story.  My dad called me after school one day and said, there’s a rumor the Rangers might trade Tony Granato.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTT?????  I had to calm myself down and take a walk around my suburban neighborhood.  I had become a Ranger fan for good earlier that year (1989), when my dad took me to see some dude named Mario Lemieux play for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Rangers, where another dude named Brian Leetch scored a shorthanded goal.  Hard to believe I was sitting in an arena with future hockey hall of famers, yet when I was thumbing through the program I saw two pictures that made my heart soar as a teeny-bopper 13 year old: Tony Granato and John Vanbiesbrouck.  Granato was also another rookie who came up along with Brian Leetch — defenseman of the future — and Beezer was a fan fave.

But to trade *my* favorite player and the hottest guy on the team?  Heart wrenching.  I could only imagine what my mom might have gone through when the Beatles broke up, as a girl of 14.

Yet, it prepared me.  Granato was traded, and the Rangers ended up winning the Cup a few years later on the back of hard workers like Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and Brian Leetch.  Leetch, who should have been a Ranger-lifer, was traded in the last few years of his career, but still came back to hoist his number to the rafters.

Cutting ties with Beezer was easier to take when it happened (especially since I loved Mike Richter). When my crush Gregg Jefferies was traded for Bret Saberhagen, my dad called me to break the news.  Expecting a shriek, I said, “Well, it’s Saberhagen.  He’s good.”  My objectivity kept me grounded.  And I learned to not get attached to certain players.

And that my friends, is our lesson of the day: you root for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.

Gone are the days, as Frank at NY Fan in South Jersey, of the Cal Ripkens and Tony Gwynns of the world: baseball greats who are synonymous with the teams for which they played.  I don’t count the Yankees’ “core” of Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera because they overpay for the first two and Mo is a freak of nature.  Pretty much, we have the Houston Astros, whose Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell (to a lesser extent Lance Berkman) who are all over the leaderboards for the team but were also there for a generation, and Atlanta Braves’ Larry Jones.  Don’t give me the “Big Three” as an example: Tom Glavine left for the hated Mets (to them, not to me, of course) at one point and Greg Maddux, hypocrite who wanted to stay with the Cubs but opted for money, fame and championship caliber baseball in Atlanta.  Not like I can blame him.  I’m sure many of us would do the same thing.

The concept of the “hometown discount” is dead.  I would say you heard it here first, though many on Twitter said so today and even our very own Metstradamus said as much yesterday.  The Mets lost Jose Reyes, but this isn’t a team known for cultivating their own talent and keeping their homegrown players.  It should not surprise us nor should it be unexpected that this would happen.  Steve Keane at Kranepool Society said that he knew the Mets wouldn’t sign Reyes, and as he said a few months ago on our Kult of Mets Personalities podcast, that he actually thought Alderson HOPED someone would give Reyes a six-year contract.  Someone did, and we see the fallout from that.  We can only hope that it turns out to be a 20/20 hindsight good move.

Yet, I was surprised…nay, SHOCKED, really…that Albert Pujols left the Cardinals.  Yes, I know he and the Cards couldn’t come to an agreement before the season.  But I also know that people counted the Cards out when Wainwright was hurt.  And hey, did you hear who won the World Series this year?

But raise your hand if you thought if there was such a thing as “company loyalty” left in baseball, there was such a thing as a “hometown discount,” that Pujols would have typified that.   **RAISES BOTH HANDS AND FEET**  Yeah, I am that chick.  I hear all these great stories about the fans in St. Louis, how loyal they are, how every player LOVES playing there, no one ever wants to leave.  Even careers get rejuvenated in St. Lou.  Look at Berkman, who seemed like he left his best years behind in Houston.  Even though Pitchers Hit 8th told me that Pujols pretty much stated he wasn’t looking for a hometown discount, I didn’t believe it.

There is Larry Jones.  There is Derek Jeter.  But these guys are exceptions to the rule that the name on the back of the jersey does not trump the name on the front of the jersey (yet, if you talked to Jeter’s GM Brian Cashman last year, he made negotiations uncomfortable by telling Jeter to get another offer better than the one they were offering).

I was 13 years old when I learned my lesson.  That you’re only as good as the team you play on, and if you can get a better return in value, then that happens too.  I’m not saying we can’t get attached to our favorite players (I am accepting of losing Reyes, but I will still miss him and wonder “what could have been”), but if we realize that we root for a larger entity as fans — the “laundry” — we’ll save ourselves much pain and anguish in the long-run.

Is It Necessary?

I just want to state up front that I am not a fan of instant replay expanding to baseball.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I don’t mind it in certain circumstances.  Like arguing strikes/balls or swinging/holding, I think is dumb, a waste of time and takes away from the game.  The home run “instant replay” is good for now.  Maybe extend to fair and foul balls.

During the Cards and Rangers World Series game, on a nationally televised game, the first base umpire clearly let one get away, as he called a runner at first safe, after he had been tagged.   Unfortunately, the entire postseason has been marred with botched calls at one point or another.  That’s not to say it hasn’t been around baseball for-freaking-ever.  The Cardinals were on the bad end of a bad call in 1985, which directly related to the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series. How hard is it, though, for a first base umpire to make a call when he is standing RIGHT THERE as the play unfolds?  Perhaps at that point, it’s less of an instant replay thing, and a “better umpire” thing.  (Thanks to Senor Solly for posting that on the Gal For All Seasons page).

I’m all for improving the quality of the game, but I even said on a podcast for Living with Sportz that I didn’t like instant replay that “I’m a purist.”  Yet, I know there have been some give-and-take with that definition.  I mean, my dad has lived through generations that started with the starting pitching encouraged to not only finish nine innings, but go the distance in extra innings and now has specialty pitching.  I grew up with only two teams from each league making the postseason, and now four teams do, and there are two rounds before the World Series.  I mean, the game changes, for better or worse.  I think instant replay is a waste of time in certain circumstances.  There are some things that just beg for getting better umpires, and not nickel and dime everything in instant replay.  Look at football.  They have instant replay and they STILL sometimes fuck up calls!

I’m curious to think of what the readers here think about it.   Feel free to comment away.  In the meantime, I will state that I will be very upset if the Rangers lose to the Cardinals tonight because of a blown call (though they did mount a realistic comeback).  Whether instant replay would have come into play is inconsequential.  Where are the rulers coming down on the umpires for screwing up an easy call to begin with?  Not to mention, Matt Harrison COULD have pitched better and gotten his stuff together.

It’s never just one thing, just the visible one.  I’m sure Steve Bartman can tell us about that.

Dog and Pony Show

I know that I am flogging a dead horse, but may I ask what the hell does the All-Star Game in July have to do with the World Series?

Apparently, a lot, since home field advantage for the World Series, is decided by a game that has nothing to do with the outcome of the season or who goes to the game or what.  I’ve been on my soapbox on that quite a bit, so I won’t go into my “Bud Selig is a fucking moron” rant.

Yet as I am watching the opening game of a potential seven game series between a Wild Card winner and the AL West divisional champ…well I guess if you want to wax poetic about it, the fact that a Wild Card team is in the World Series is a testament to the Wild Card age.  I get that.

But am I crazy to think that there’s no way in hell that a Wild Card team should have home field advantage in the World Series UNLESS they have a better record than the other team?

If you think about it, Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, whose team was beat by the National League Champion, St. Louis Cardinals) gave the NL home field advantage by hitting a rocket of a home run off CJ Wilson, the starting pitcher for the AL champion Texas Rangers tonight…and ultimately for what?  So that the team who beat Fielder’s team that didn’t have a better record in the regular season can have home field advantage.

I just want to state that I have no problem with how the teams got there…in fact, the Cardinals have had a pretty improbable run, a longshot for the Wild Card, and “backing in” on Game 162 day by the Atlanta Braves to the Philadelphia Phillies: the team the Cards beat to get to the NLCS.  Baseball is an amazing sport, one of great stories and dramatic themes.  The Cardinals are no exception to that.

Yet, when I think back to “great stories” or “dramatic themes,” I don’t go back to the All-Star Game and say, wow, wasn’t it great the NL won home field advantage for the World Series then?  No, I mean, even though Prince Fielder’s team had a chance to go to the big show and directly profit off that win, if Carlos Beltran had hit the home run to get the NL the win, it would make even LESS sense.

The All-Star Game is a dog and pony show, and I don’t even really care to watch it each year (I mostly do so because my husband likes it still…whatevs).  It’s hard to say that there wasn’t an “earning” of home field advantage because that would diminish the Cardinals’ run to the big show, that’s not what I’m saying.

But I can’t be the only person who thinks it’s ridick that a team with a worse record gets home field because of a game that means absolutely nothing three months earlier over a team that has a better record and may be used to their “advantage.”

You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.

The Greatest Game(s) Ever Played

I usually get all warm and mushy for the last game of the season.  This year was weird.  Typically, the baseball season ends on a Sunday, and I get all weepy and nostalgic the last weekend.  Since the Mets’ season ended on a Wednesday, the last weekend didn’t hold the same feelings of sadness and longing as in previous years.

The Mets finished their season around 3:30 pm on Wednesday.  Little did I know, that the last day of baseball had yet to begin.

The greatest thing about baseball are the different subthemes in each game.  Every game has a story.  This year, we had four stories to watch.  The starring roles were to be played by: the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees; the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox; the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros; and the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.

To say that this Mets fan had a vested interest in these games was an understatement.  I have a thing for the Red Sox, as in the “enemy of the enemy is my friend,” etc etc.  Although I have to say, I wouldn’t have minded them not making the playoffs; after all, they were pretty much anointed the World Series Champs with the signing of Carl Crawford in the offseason and trading for Adrian Gonzalez.  I like the Orioles too; I had just spent a day at Camden Yards with a Yankee fan that we called the “Bird Bowl” (as the Blue Jays were their opponent), and she even chronicled that trip in this column (follow Amanda on Twitter @amandarykoff…she is a good Yankee fan and super cool).

 

I also happened to fall in love with Robert Andino that day…they have this great mid-inning entertainment clip called “Andino at the Movies,” where he regales us with movie reviews.  Trust me, it’s comedy in its highest form.

Did I like the way the Yankees just laid down for the Rays?  No.  But I did like the Rays’ team (although they were eliminated from their amazing late-season run earlier today).  I certainly would have liked them to make the Wild Card over the Red Sox, but I guess that’s because the Sox have become a more “moneyball” version of the Yanks (which I guess makes no sense, but I guess if you follow baseball, you get it).

I certainly wanted to see the Cardinals make the postseason over the Braves.  Which meant a win by the Cards and a loss by the Braves.

There was something else eating at me too here.  The fact that if the Sox and the Braves both lost their playoff bids, this would mean I wouldn’t have to hear about the Mets “choking” in September anymore.  I mean, talk about losing their playoff bid on the last day of the season.

Yet, I couldn’t even script how Game 162 would end for these teams.  I thought for sure we’d see some Game 163s going on.  No, these teams decided to take care of business the traditional way: backs against the wall and no shortage of drama.

At the beginning of the day, I’d thought the only dramatic thing I’d be watching was whether Ryan Braun would go 3-for-4 and Jose Reyes’ bunt single in his only at-bat on Wednesday would be for naught.  For Mets fans who wanted something cheer, we got it, and Braun was a non-entity. But hey, his team had already been decided to go to the playoffs, plus he’s almost as close to a lock for MVP if there ever was one.

On a night like this, I can thank goodness for MLB Network.  This gave us the opportunity to keep tabs on all the results.  Since it was technically the last game of the season, I didn’t realize just how glued to my TV I would be.

I was.

I guess the easiest game of the night was the Cardinals.  They won, fair and square, and the only thing they had to do was wait for the Braves to win or lose.  Braves win, they’d play the next day.  Braves lose, Cards were going to play the Phillies in the NLDS.

The real drama occurred over the AL East though.  It looked like the Yankees forgot they were trying to do their part in trying to eliminate their Boston rivals.  Pretty soon though, Rays’ late inning heroics shined through, and they scored seven runs to tie the game up.  I thought for sure the Yankees were throwing meatballs to the Rays to will them to win.  Think what you want, but it was suspect they didn’t bring in their lights-out arms in the bullpen at this juncture.  Then again, the Yankees really didn’t have anything to play for except make Boston suffer.  I’d say they succeeded.

Then the unthinkable happened.  It might not have been that outlandish, but seeing Jonathan Papelbon blow another late inning save wasn’t that story.  It was the fact that Robert Andino is going to haunt Red Sox fans’ dreams (or nightmares).  My friend @2131 and Beyond (an Orioles focused blogger) calls this night “The Curse of the Andino.”  I hope he knows, I do plan to use that one.

I felt bad for friends like Sully, who is as die hard for Boston as they come.  I also know how much they irk Yankees fans.  But to me, the collapse was redemption for me, as a Mets fan, who has been the butt of so many jokes since 2007.  Kranepool Society said “It gets better” to Red Sox fans, but I disagree.  Things have gotten progressively worse for us Mets fans, but I can hope that since other teams have taken the pressure off, perhaps we can all move on.

Same for the Braves.  I think most Mets fans dislike Chipper Jones, but respect the hell out of him.  I know I do.  Some folks were upset that they wouldn’t play in another postseason.  Why, so they won’t make it out of the first round?  I think the Cardinals are certainly more worthy, they worked very hard to get there.

The best part was watching the Rays game unfold.  I said on Twitter that I was going to call it, that the Rays would win it right after the Red Sox lost.

And they did.  Evan Longoria continued to build up his rep with a walk-off home run.  I’d like to think they won that game on pure guts, but I’m pretty sure they were gifted that win.

But who cares?  You might have been able to script these games the way we wanted to, or you might not have.  The thing is, each team kept us guessing to the very end.  Some people might argue that there is nothing more dramatic than a Game 163 or a Game 7 situation.  I’d disagree.  Game 162 2011 version was potentially one of the best nights of baseball I have ever witnessed in my many decades as a fan.  I may recognize October heartbreak, I may not have seen my team win anything in recent years and be humiliated.  That does not mean I have not seen the best that this game can give me.

This is my song for the 2011 season.  The Mets may have not finished where I wanted them to…but I wouldn’t have wanted the season to finish any other way.