The playoffs have certainly so far fulfilled the “exciting games” end of the bargain, but not so much on the aggregated “exciting series” …
- The Angels finished with the best record in baseball this year, at 98-64. The Tigers, at 90-72, were sixth best in baseball, and third best in the AL. But now they’re both going home. Quickly. Each was swept in the ALDS, setting up an exciting-for-hardcore-fans, but probably-poison-for-TV-ratings ALCS between the Royals and the Orioles.
- The Orioles beat the Tigers 2-1 after surviving an exciting 9th inning that featured Buck Showalter intentionally walking the winning run … and then a subsequent game-ending double play. Nelson Cruz hit yet another homer in this one, and he’ll be a fascinating free agent case. Last year, after his PED suspension and concerns about his lack of OBP (and age), Cruz couldn’t even match the qualifying offer he rejected from the Rangers, having to sign with the Orioles for relative peanuts. Now he’s had a huge year, and he’s performing well in the playoffs, to boot. Big contract on the way? (No, either way, it won’t be from the Cubs.)
- The Royals beat the Angels 8-3 in a game generally devoid of excitement. James Shields – Cubs offseason target? – pitched six strong innings.
- The Angels finally got something serious from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols – a solo homer each – but it wasn’t enough to win the game, or to avoid the series sweep.
- And now the Orioles and Royals rest. The ALCS doesn’t start until Friday, so it’s a whole week to rest/practice/get anxious/whatever. Here’s hoping the NLDS last a little longer so we don’t have to go multiple days with no baseball at all.
- I’m really torn on the Royals, by the way. Given the suffering of their fans and their general underdog status, I’d like to see them do well. On the other hand, it seems to me that they often win despite some … questionable moves. I’m not crazy about tacitly endorsing those things. But, on the balance, I think the Royals are still the way I’m going, at least in the AL.