September 30, 2010
I just attended the last regular season game in Anaheim... there will be no playoff baseball for the Angels... or the Dodgers. As a matter of fact, the Padres are Southern California's last hope for October baseball. Who'd have guessed that back in April?!? Will they make it? I guess that depends on the Giants and the Braves (who are currently ahead of the Friars in the NL West and the Wild Card, respectively). What I'm getting at is simple-I'm not used to baseball being done in September. Sure, I've watched other teams from other states play regardless of what my local teams do... it's just weird that I turn on sports radio and everyone's so into football... and we don't even have a team within eighty-five miles of my home. There should be playoffs here... and there aren't. This is what it feels like to be a Royals/Pirates/Orioles fan. ::sigh::
But, just think of those lucky fans in Cincinnati! And the folks in Tampa Bay... even though they don't all go to see their team. Maybe I've just gotten spoiled. Do you know the most recent season in which neither the Angels, Dodgers, nor Padres played in October? It was 2003. So, for most of my adult life I've had some vested interest in the MLB experience into Fall. Now I'm stuck cheering on the Twins. That's right, the Twins because I don't want the Yankees to win, the Rays... well, okay... but the fans don't deserve it, and the Rangers? Please. How can I root for the Rangers when they've ousted my team from the division championship they'd held for three consecutive years? As far as the NL goes, my support is with the Giants. They have a great fan base and a quality staff. Sure, I still hope for a Friars comeback but it's a longshot at this point.
Feel free to weigh in on this one. Isn't playoff BASEBALL the best? I mean, say what you want to about the length of the season or the individual games, but October baseball is fantastic. Football playoffs? OK, there are thirty-two teams and twelve of them get to go. How special is that? The NBA is worse: sixteen of the thirty teams make it to the post-season. How ridiculous is that? In baseball, eight teams out of thirty. Excellent-let the best of the best duke it out. Sure, my hometown team didn't make it but I have no interest in watching a .500 club play for a title. Hello, NBA? Nobody cares about those seven and eight seeds.
MLB in October showcases the best players and teams and gives us heartbreaking (or glorious) stories. Pick your favorite playoff memory-I bet you have one. And remember, your team may not have made it, but there's still plenty to watch on TV-or in person. The walk-offs, double plays, homers, and curtain calls will be there. I wish my Angels would be... but it's not the end of the world.
Here's the thing: as long as I have been a fan of baseball, I've loved watching the greatest teams battle each other for that World Series trophy. I root for greatness, whether it's from a team from Philly or the ATL. The best of the best are there, fans, so make sure you tune in.
Matt Jackson is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.