September 28, 2011

The best season finale ever?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

Major League Baseball could have asked for a better regular-season finale than this. After 161 exhausting games, both the American and National Leagues have ties in their wild card races.

While they have the easiest path to the playoffs, facing the Baltimore Orioles on the last night of season, the Boston Red Sox freefall might be something that we tell our grandchildren about. This was one of the best teams in baseball after snapping out of their horrific funk to start the season. Now, they need their archrivals, the Yankees, to actually compete against the Rays.

In fact, New York hasn’t even named a starter for today’s game. I wouldn’t even put it past them to trot out a couple of reserve infielders for what amounts to a meaningless game for them.

But back to Boston, I saw this stat the other day on Twitter – and double-checked it! – about how bad Boston has been recently: Since Hurricane Irene hit the eastern seaboard on August 28, the Boston Red Sox have a record of 3-20 in games in which they failed to score 9 or more runs.

Granted, that really highlights Boston’s inefficiency in the pitching department. It’s undeniable that they started their downward spiral when their starters began to get banged up. Heck, it if wasn’t for some unfortunate injuries, John Lackey could have been mercifully benched and kept back from racking up the worst ERA ever for a starter.

In the senior circuit, the race may not be as interesting as AL’s, since the Braves collapse wasn’t nearly as epic as the Red Sox’s, but a September record of 9-17 is still quite horrific. In fact, a three-game sweep by their opposition for the final post-season slot, St. Louis, should be considered the turning point in the race.

Personally, if I had to choose who will punch their ticket to October ball today, I’d root for nobody. How could you possibly root for denying the world of not one, but two play-in games on Thursday night? How great would that be?

But, no matter what happens today, if this is the tone that’s being set for the playoffs, I am more than ready for some thrilling October baseball.

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