Rooting moderately hard against three teams takes as much of an emotional toll as rooting passionately for a team that I do like, with the added bonus of not giving back any comparable feelings of joy I get when the Mets win. It's just a moment of smugness that quickly goes away when I remember I'd give anything for them to just make the playoffs next year.
Watching the two games I did tonight, it feels a like I'm being punished for investing as much in a team I hate losing as much as I do in a team I love winning. However, my strict atheism forbids me from believing in any kind of gods, much less The Baseball Gods. No, the truth is that I hate three teams that are really good at baseball. Hell, two of them made the World Series last year and came into this year as the favorites. If I'm being punished by anything, it's baseball science.
The only team I can gin up any legitimate affection for is the Giants, a residual effect of living with Ush. Even with the Giants though, my good will towards them is tempered by their employment of the loathsome Cody Ross. Not to mention rooting for a team that's relying on Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell to carry the offense just seems so hopeless.
With the Yankees and Phillies already up 2-0 in their respective series, I can already feel my molars sharpened from the constant grinding. That I just turned off a game where the Braves came back from a 4-0 deficit mere hours after the Phillies had done the same thing will not help me avoid costly dental reconstruction. After tonight, there's a good possibility of a Phillies/Braves NLCS with the Yankees advancing to the ALCS, followed by the following nightmare scenarios:
- The Phillies playing in a third straight World Series, winning their second in three years
- The Braves winning a World Series in Bobby Cox's final year on the bench
- The Yankees winning their second straight World Series
By then I may just have to throw in the towel and skip the World Series like I threatened to do last year. Not that I was able to, I enjoy the depths of addiction far too much.
- Being a fan of things that are shiny and new, I started pulling for the Reds after the Mets disastrous, post-All-Star break road trip. Here was a Central division team that wasn't the Cardinals or Cubs, running away with the division. Plus the whole redemption thing after ten years of ineptitude. I didn't get to see much of them all year, so maybe if I had, my expectations wouldn't have been so high. They look terrible so far, chasing Roy Oswalt notwithstanding. Orlando Cabrera, "winning ballplayer" made the play to start the Reds' brain lock on Wilson Valdez' grounder in the second inning of Game 1. Wilson Valdez isn't Usain Bolt, go to first base, get the last out and go sit dow-. Oh no, definitely shovel the ball to second base using only your glove. Kudos as well to Scott Rolen for going to second tonight on an impossible play instead of taking the sure out.
- The Reds were also singlehandedly outgamed by Chase Utley, who faked being hit by a pitch and missed third base when scoring later in the inning. The former is poor sportsmanship, but the Reds had a chance to appeal the latter and I can't imagine why they didn't.
- Last night, I watched the Giants strand a runner on third with one out and thought, "Hmm, offense like that can certainly kill you." And so the Giants, despite getting an early lead managed to still look putrid on offense tonight, blowing a first and third with one out in the seventh inning. Atlanta scored three runs the next inning. People: runs left off the board count just as much as the ones you can get up there.
- Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly made a big show out of talking about how Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell were college teammates and are now great friends. It makes sense on more than one level. Sure, maybe their personalities mesh really well, but they're also two guys who are always going to drag some vague sense of disappointment around with them to whatever team they end up on.
- Brian Wilson isn't so damn special. He's got great numbers, but it didn't look like he was fooling anyone on the Braves. If your fastball isn't good enough to beat Alex Gonzalez when you miss with it belt high, you aren't going to anchor a championship bullpen.
- Speaking of bullpens, the last bullpen I remember that collectively grew horrible beards is the Astros' bullpen from 2005. The Giants should be sure to remember that those beards only got the Astros to the World Series, it didn't help them win it.
- I haven't seen much of Yankees/Twins, but I did see the Jesse Crain vs. Mark Texiera at-bat. From watching that one inning, Jesse Crain came out looking like one of those infuriating relievers who has a great fastball with movement and speed but is too afraid to throw it until his back is against the wall. Science has proven this is the most irritating type of relief pitcher in baseball. Number two? Kyle Farnsworth.
- The most comedic play-by-play moment of the playoffs goes to whoever was calling Game 1 of Rays/Rangers who claimed having Jeff Francoeur batting seventh provided lineup insurance for the Rangers.
- Lucky for me I have to go sling fish heads tomorrow while the Yankees and Twins play. I can't stand to watch this sweep happen.