In this world of "All-NFL, All-the-Time," where everybody and his brother (and sometimes sister) are in an NFL pool, a Fantasy League, placing bets
(friendly or otherwise), or just plain glued to the tube on Sunday afternoons and nights, Monday nights, and (sometimes) Thursday nights, etc., etc., etc., I'm here to report from the "old school."
Oh, sure (snort, snort, flex biceps, spit), I like NFL football too - not to mention the Hawkeyes and Cyclones, et al. - when the baseball season is over.
That's right, baseball. Yes, Virginia, there is still Major League Baseball. The regular season, all 162 games of it, runs from early April until the first week of October. Then the real fun starts, with the American and National League Championship Series (LCS), better known as the playoffs. Following the conclusion of these two series, which are usually filled with some pretty exciting and strategic baseball, comes the Piece de resistance - the Fall Classic, aka the World Series.
This season - unlike most - most of the division races were pretty well wrapped up early. The Cardinals in the NL Central, Phillies in the NL East, Dodgers in the NL West, Angels in the AL West, and my beloved Yankees in the AL East, have all been trying to stay sharp for the LCS and trying to avoid complacency and a possible upset in the post-season. Only in the AL Central, where the Twins have been making a late season run at the Tigers, has there been any real "pennant race fever."
Much as I hate to admit it, the standings one needs to look at this season are the "Wild Card Standings," which of course never even used to exist in the "good old days." Of course, the Division Standings didn't exist back then either.
Anyway - the Red Sox have been viewed as the likely AL Wild Card team for quite awhile - though the Rangers gave them a battle for a time - but over in the "other league," the Rockies, Giants and Braves have been battling to snare the Wild Card spot.
With no Barry Bonds (who?) around, the 'Gints' have been relying on pretty good pitching, some of it provided by the ageless Randy Johnson (before age and injuries caught up to him) and the "new" Johnson, last year's Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who - unlike Johnson - is a right-hander and - like Johnson - has long hair and throws bee-bees. Colorado, though, led by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki - one of my favorite athlete names - has just about locked up the NL Wild Card spot.
So, what do we have to look forward to in the post-season? The most likely team match-ups will be the Yankees vs. the Tigers (or Twins) and the Angels vs. the Red Sox in the first round of the American League playoffs. In the National League, a likely scenario would be first-round match-ups of the Cardinals vs. Dodgers and the Rockies vs. the Phillies. The Yankees, Angels, Dodgers and Phillies would have the home-field advantage.
So, when the post-season action begins on Wednesday Oct. 7 (the date for a 7th World Series game would be Nov. 5, by the way), sit back, pop a cold one, and enjoy the athleticism and nuances of the greatest game on Earth - Major League Baseball.