07 October 2006

It's Playoff Time

As I've mentioned before, I am a big baseball fan. And come October, baseball should be the dominating topic in any sports conversation (the fact that it's not really burns me...football has JUST STARTED, hockey - apparently - has also just started. This is the PLAYOFFS, peeps. Give baseball its due). It is for me.

This year, I am thrilled that my team has finally broken their streak of losing in the first round of the playoffs. (and, watching the Mets/Dodgers game right now, this guy made a huge error in the top of the 8th, giving the Mets a 4 run lead instead of 3, pretty much making a comeback unlikely) We swept a team not many gave us a chance to beat. We beat the best pitcher in baseball.

[Selfishly, I would have like them to have lost one, because I could actually go to Game 4. I was going to celebrate my birthday, the big 3-0, in a skybox with some friends & family, and maybe get my name in lights. That's not going to happen now. I am pretty disappointed; it was pretty much the only thing I was looking forward to that pertained to my bday. I know, selfish.]

There is an electricity to the playoffs that isn't there during most of the regular season. There is also a real sense that anything can happen. Today it did. The Yankee's, the team with the highest payroll and literally a team of all-stars, were defeated and knocked out of the playoffs by the Tigers, a team who had an awesome season until the very end, but doesn't have any huge superstars. In watching the game today, you could see why this could happen.

The game of baseball requires playing as a team. It isn't just up to the pitcher to get the ball up and away from the hitter, or the hitter to hit a home run each time. It requires that the defense have their head in the games and not make big mistakes. It requires the coach not to put a player who has just started playing a particular position in the game at that position IN THE PLAYOFFS [Joe Torre, I am looking at you]. It requires that your teammates support you even when things are a little tough on the field. Watching the Yankees demeanor and actions in the dugout, this certainly wasn't happening. The guys in the dugout didn't speak to each other; once they got behind you could see the fighting spirit drain out of them. This I don't understand...they are paid millions to play a game every day. We should all be so lucky.

It'll be interesting moving into this next round to see the A's vs. Tigers. These teams are somewhat similar in that there are no real big names (yes, we have Frank Thomas, but he was considered way past his prime when the A's picked him up). They play both play as a team, supporting each other on the field and in the dugout. They are both made up of players with not a ton of experience in the playoffs (there are exceptions, of course, but in general).

I am looking forward to it!

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