It’s Monday. The regular season ended yesterday, and the playoffs begin tomorrow. It’s a time to reflect on the winning of playoff spots; and a time to feed high hopes of World Series glory.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed with the way this season wrapped up. When did Major League baseball take a page out of the NFL’s book, having divisions won by who has the best season series record? While most would agree that the NFL is a much better organization than MLB on the whole, (with functional revenue sharing, a salary cap, and a respectable drug policy), their tiebreaker policies don’t allow for the most exciting ending to otherwise sterling seasons; which is exactly what happened Saturday afternoon, with the Yankees winning the AL East because Chicago won a game in Cleveland, a fact most of the Yankee squad was oblivious to, with the exception of Derek Jeter. For any of you who didn’t take the time to find out exactly what the rules are, the Frappe has your back: teams will only play one-game tiebreakers if either team is in danger of not entering the postseason altogether. In the case of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry, the Yankee victory combined with the Indian loss assured them a playoff spot, and since the Yankees led the season series between themselves and the Red Sox, they were thus guaranteed the division title. Yuck. I was about halfway through formulating an MLB / Yankee conspiracy theory, until I discovered that the same season series logic gave the Angels homefield advantage for the first-round.
I’m not writing to propose a better tie-break system. I guess I should be glad that the rules still allow for one game playoffs under certain conditions. If there’s anyone we should take our aggression out on, it’s the Cleveland Indians. If this team wouldn’t have collapsed against the White Sox second string, we could have had a three way tie for two playoff spots, giving us two consecutive days of teams fighting for their postseason lives!!! Instead we’re left with an AL East wildcard for the third consecutive year; and whereas three weeks ago it looked like we’d see a lot of fresh playoff faces, 6 out of 8 playoff teams are returning from last year. Yes, I know, the Yankees Red Sox rivalry is the biggest in current professional sports, but I was kind of hoping for a new ALCS matchup now that the curse has officially been reversed.
On a different note, I noticed this headline on ESPN’s website today: “Yanks angry at Showalter for pulling stars vs. Angels.” On Sunday, the Texas Rangers removed three of their starters in the third inning, aiding the Angels’ comeback win; which, coupled with the Yankees’ loss, means the Yankees have to start the playoffs in Anaheim instead of New York. The article featured this quote: “There’s a code of honor when so much is on the line,” Alex Rodriguez told the New York Daily News. “You hope people do the right thing. But you can’t control what people do.” What??? It’s asinine comments like this that make it harder and harder not to hate one of the best all around players in baseball. I’m starting to think it’s possible that A-Rod’s statement was taken out of context – it could have actually been directed at this own manager. After all, the Indians still had a playoff hope if New York would have beaten Boston; but instead, Joe Torre used 17 position players, removing almost every single one of his starters, (including A-Rod), resulting in a 10 to 1 shelling by Boston. None of this even takes into account the fact that New York could have won homefield advantage for themselves without needing any help from Texas, if they just would have showed up for that game.
I’m comforted by the knowledge that the Yankees will get what they deserve, a clean sweep by the surging Angels. Some other predictions for you Frappers: Atlanta will actually get past the first round and San Diego will actually make it interesting before Albert Pujols has the nation forgetting what was so great about Beltran’s playoff performance last year. As for the battle between different colors of laundry, anything can happen in that 5 game set, and anything will happen. Let October begin.