Well, another MLB regular season is in the books. I’m stoked about the playoffs this year; there’s the potential for some really great matchups. I do have to admit that I’m NOT digging new two wild card format. While I understand that it gives division-winning clubs more of an advantage, I hate anything that minimizes the importance of the regular season. To that end, the Cardinal fan in me thinks its great that we get to square off with the Braves in a one-game win-or-go-home showdown. But the purist in me rails against the notion that the 6 game difference between the 94-win Braves and the 88-win Cards has basically been obliterated. See my point? 6 games up after 162 and it all comes down to one game? Don’t get me wrong; I won’t shed one tear for Chipper or anybody else if we storm Atlanta and come away with a win. But to those who are sayin’ it ain’t right…I’m with you.
But that’s just the hem of the garment when it comes to postseason intrigue. How about tomorrow night’s matchup: O’s vs. Rangers. The Orioles have absolutely been one of the best stories of the season. Buck Showalter deserves every Manager of the Year vote he’s going to receive after this masterful performance. Quick: can you name the Orioles Opening Day Starter? Jake Arrieta, he of the 6.20 ERA this season. Without a single starter cracking the 200-inning barrier — rookie Wei-Yin Chen was the only Oriole arm to throw more than 133 innings — the O’s bullpen emerged as an unexpected strength. Darren O’Day, Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop, and All-Star stopper Jim Johnson are hardly household names, but they are the primary reasons Baltimore is a mind boggling 29-9 in one run games. For you math whizzes out there, that comes to a .763 winning percentage. If you expect these Birds to be fazed by tomorrow’s win-or-you’re-out scenario, think again. They’ve been playing in high leverage situations virtually all year long.
So tomorrow, just for the record, I’ll be rooting for the Cards — the team with the bird on the bat — and the O’s — the team with the bird on the cap.
I’ll recap my spring division picks and give my MVP / Cy Young / Rookie of the Year predictions tomorrow before the games get rolling. Happy playoff time, baseball fans. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!