We’re here, and the Postseason is ready to roll. I hope you all watched the White Sox come up big with that 1-0 win over the Twins like I did.
It was cool to see them celebrating. Fortunately for them, they’ve got an extra day to prepare for Thursday’s Game 1 in St. Pete!
Three Division Series games today to kick it off, and I can’t wait to see what happens and what memories are made. Here are some quick blog thoughts on each one.
Brewers at Phillies
Tough call here, but the Phightin’ Phils came up huge down the stretch to take the division from the Mets, and I don’t know if you have noticed what Ryan Howard’s been doing for the last month, but you’ll probably find out in this series. Philadelphia is a great baseball town and they haven’t tasted World Series champagne since 1980. They’re hungry and I expect them to come out aggressive.
Dodgers at Cubs
Does anyone have higher expectations this season than Cubs Nation? It’s been exactly 100 years since the Cubbies won it all, and their fans have heard enough about curses and billy goats. They’ve also had to watch as the Red Sox won in 2004 for the first time since 1918 and the crosstown rival White Sox took it the next year for the first time since 1917. With the pitching, the defense and the hitting that led them to dominate the NL this year, the Wrigley faithful have to think this is the year.
Red Sox at Angels
The Angels got swept out of the first round by the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, and the Red Sox won the World Series both years. This season might be different, with the Angels winning 100 games for the first time in franchise history and owning the best record in the Majors. Great pitching matchup tonight with the Angels’ John Lackey going up against the Red Sox’s no-hitter man, Jon Lester.
Three games and all kinds of memories to be made. Now I want to hear your thoughts. What will happen tonight in each game? What are your predictions for these three series?
Let me know.
Today there’s a lot of baseball to watch and a lot of important moments to witness as we head into October, full speed ahead.
Grab some snacks, put on that seat belt and have fun. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
One more before October
Seven teams are waiting.
October is waiting.
And tonight, everybody will be watching as the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox fight it out for the eighth and final spot in this year’s postseason.
Nothing gets me more excited than a tiebreaker. We’ve only seen four one-game tiebreakers in American League history, and, at this point, it’s tough to say which team is going to come out on top.
Tonight’s game is not just a battle for the playoffs. It’s a battle of two of the American League’s best young guns — Chicago lefty John Danks and Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn.
Isn’t it amazing the way two teams can be so close to one another all year, playing each other 18 times during the regular season, but we still need to see one more as the rest of baseball watches?
That’s called excitement.
And these two franchises have proven over the last several years that they’re worthy contenders for the World Series. The Twins seem like they’re always in it, despite a low payroll. And the White Sox won it all just three years ago.
Tonight’s game also features two of the craftiest managers in baseball going head-to-head. I’m sure Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire and Chicago’s Ozzie Guillen will make their mark on this one in the strategy department.
Seven teams are waiting.
October is waiting.
The tight pennant races are getting tighter, and I’m feeling the intensity every night as the Twins and White Sox battle it out for the last Postseason spots in the American League. I’m sure you are, too.
Meanwhile, as the Mets and Brewers try to keep the pace in the National League, the Mets are set on prolonging the life of that charming 44-year-old ballpark in Queens called Shea Stadium that’s going to make way for the new Citi Field next year.
What does it all mean? It means we’ve got less than a week to go until October, and the first five teams that have clinched as I write this are waiting along with the rest of us to see how it’s all going to shake out.
And those teams still have so many unanswered questions, too.
Can the Dodgers keep up the excitement and ride the hot bat of their newest star all the way through October?
Can a healthy Evan Longoria help the Rays continue to prove the doubters wrong?
Do the Red Sox have another magical run in them?
Is it THE year on the North Side?
Or will the team with the best record in baseball live up to its billing?
Vote in the poll and let me know how you think it will all play out. The good news is we won’t have to wait very long to see what happens.
A Wild Finish
There’s almost too much excitement around the big leagues to blog about these days with only two weeks until October, but things are getting Wild in the Wild Card races, and everyone knows all you have to do is get in it to win it.
The Red Sox look good at the top of the American League Wild Card standings for the AL’s fourth berth in the Postseason, but the Twins are still kicking after their dramatic win Thursday over Tampa Bay.
In the National League, it’s a different story. The Mets have fallen out of the lead in the NL East, but they’re still holding a tight lead on the Milwaukee Brewers for the Wild Card, and a big effort by their big horse, Johan Santana, kept them in charge Thursday.
Things aren’t looking so good for the Yankees, and the last time Major League Baseball had a postseason without them was 1993. I can’t believe it, and I’m sure a lot of you can’t either, but that’s baseball, right?
Added to that stunning fact is the reality that baseball’s Cathedral is closing down at the end of the season to make way for the shiny, new ballpark across the street.
So I would like to give an official O.G. shout-out to all the majestic moments we’ve witnessed at that big ballyard in the Bronx, with a big nod to my personal favorite, Aaron Boone’s 11th-inning walk-off piece off Tim Wakefield in that epic Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series to beat the Red Sox.
Then again, there are about 100 others that come to mind, too. I’d be blogging all night if I was going to list them all. I don’t have that much time, but you all can help me out by voting in the poll and commenting.
So bring it: What are your favorite Yankee Stadium moments?
I want to hear all about them.
Countdown to the pennant
There’s five days left in August, which means there’s five days to September, a.k.a. official crunch time in the big leagues — and the time when my fingers start sweating just a little bit more as I type away at this blog. The heat hasn’t just been turned up on my desk. It’s all around the Majors, and I can’t decide which is the craziest pennant race.
You can’t tell me you’re not checking out in the National League East every night. The Mets and Phillies are duking it out for the second straight year, and the boys from Queens are looking to reverse the September slide that knocked them out last year. Guys like Mike Pelfrey are stepping up big-time at the right time, which means Shea might stay open for an extra month — October.
Out West, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers are in a serious scuffle, and I’m telling you, this one ain’t over by a longshot, but the D-backs have pulled ahead a little bit in the last week, and it doesn’t hurt when guys like my man Chris Young are getting their groove on at the right time.
Flip a coin in the AL Central. For real. This one is off the hook. The White Sox have been there most of the year because of guys like Carlos Quentin going off, but man, those Twins are tough to shake! You’ve got to give it to an organization that keeps the talent flowing in from the farm system year in and year out. Check out their new guy Denard Span – beating the Angels last week – how do they keep finding these guys?!
Who’s going to win these races? I have no clue. No idea. But that’s the great thing.
I’ve got all of September to figure it out, and it starts in five days.
Check your watch or your BlackBerry or your computer or just rip down the old-school calendar from the fridge. We’re officially in late August, and you know what that means: Less than 40 games until the postseason. Now check the standings. Do a few things surprise you as much as they surprise me?
Tampa Bay is not only still there in the American League East, but they’re still there over the Red Sox AND the Yankees. They’re banged up but a good team’s a good team. Still plenty of September games in the division that will give them the ultimate test, but who would have thought they’d be this good this late in the season? It’s the story of 2008 in my book, and with sluggers like Carlos Pena starting to heat up, who knows how far they could go?
There are serious pennant power plays brewing in the National League West and American League Central. Toss a coin to separate the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in the NL and the Twins and White Sox in the AL.
There are lots of things to like about all four teams and lots of reasons to watch all of their games down the stretch, but since we’re talking surprises, man, how about those Twins? They trade Johan to the Mets, Silva leaves for the Mariners, Torii goes to the Angels, and there they are, still contending. And now they have Francisco Liriano back? That’s just filthy.
Yup, everywhere I look, there are surprises, like in L.A., for example. Joe Torre’s Dodgers were looking like a solid team for most of the year, but all of a sudden Manny Magic starts spreading like wildfire throughout the Ravine and everyone’s thinking World Series. Just ask Andre Ethier if he can feel it like I do.
Big moments and bigger plays, and it only gets more intense by the day. Get comfy on that sofa. We’ve still got a quarter of the season to go …
I’m loving how the trades keep heating things up. Take the National League West, for example. The Dodgers get Manny, so the D-backs turn around and snag Adam Dunn from Cincinnati. Take that, L.A.!
It’s all in the spirit of October, people. Seriously, if you want to rock on to the World Series, you have to make things happen on the field AND with the cell phones.
So what does Arizona get in this Dunn deal? The power, on-base percentage and ability to change a game in a hurry, like Dunn did here.
Here are some other pieces of my blogging brain, spinning dizzy with the postseason possibilities:
*Tough break — literally — for super-stud Evan Longoria and his Tampa Bay Rays. Dude’s a Rookie of the Year shoo-in and now he’s got a fractured wrist? And now he’s got to join Carl Crawford on the DL? It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the big leagues. Here’s what happened:
*I’ve been trying to figure out how the whole National League East picture is going to shake out, but the only thing shaking is my head. If the Mets’ bullpen doesn’t get better in a hurry, the Fighting Fish from South Florida can swim right by them. But if that’s going to go down, my boy Hanley Ramirez needs to break out of his slump and start hitting like this again:
*Did anyone see the Twins coming? Not me, but take a look at the AL Central. There they are, right at the top! Pretty cool the way this organization keeps bringing it, and now that they’ve got Francisco Liriano back, healthy and dealing, who’s to say Minnesota won’t be a major factor in October?
Too many things to think about right now, and we’re not even in late August yet.
Time to relax… and watch more baseball!