Maybe I was just oblivious to it all the other years, but for some reason, it seemed like whenever booth announcers were short on talking points, they defaulted to the current Wild Card playoff system. Everyone had an idea on how to best construct the postseason process so as to best preserve fairness for all parties involved.
I’ve touched on the subject before, but to be clear, I hate the Wild Card. I liken it to studying for weeks for a test, only to have someone who crammed the night before ace it and screw up the curve. They’re not breaking the rules, but somehow it dwarfs the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into your efforts for a more extensive stretch of time.
What’s worse, people who cram often just nail it. They got all this addrenaline from pulling an all nighter, all the information is right in the forefront of their minds, and they just carry that right into the exam room. Similarly, 3 Wild Cards have won the World Series in the last 7 years, and the logic behind that isn’t too complicated.
Ah, but not this year. Colorado just lost the NLDS to the defending champion Phillies (the only division series that wasn’t a sweep), and with the Sux being punted into the offseason on Sunday, the playoffs belong to the Official Best Teams in Baseball.
It’s weird, but refreshing. Like a few years ago when the NCAA brackets came down to the four #1 seeds. What? No 12-seed/5-seed upsets? No Cinderella story? What the hell, tourney? You’re actually going to make us manufacture an emotional investment in a team like UCLA? WHERE’S GONZAGA?!
So, now what do you do? No one’s rooting for the Phillies except Philly fans, because maybe they had the fairy tale underdog tag last year (that somehow miraculously superceded their E-A-G-L-E-S association), but this year, they’re satanic because they won last year. And next to death and taxes, the only thing you can count on is a reigning champ to repel any kind of peripheral favor and support.
These are the types of things I think about when I got a 4 day stretch of no baseball ahead of me.
You’d think I’d take a little bit of a hiatus from this obsessing, but no dice. I’m like Leonardo DiCaprio in the Basketball Diaries when he’s all twisted up and fiending for more of whatever drug he was doing.
(I saw this movie when I was, like, 15 years old or something because I thought it’d be nice little sports movie. Very scarring experience, but now I liken my fits and shakes of baseball withdrawal to the freaky ones portrayed in this cinematic inferno.)
And that was well, well worth it.
So here’s the roundup of Day 1 of “The Calm Before the Storm”…
My coworker tried to tell me that the Yankees don’t stand a chance against the Angels because A-Rod sucks in the postseason clutch.
I think I just blacked out.
“Yeah, but that was the TWINS. If the Yanks DIDN’T sweep, it’d be embarrassing. And A-Rod always rocks the ALDS but then can’t do shit after that.”
I’m now officially convinced that there’s some alternate Baseball-Reference.com site that churns out these claims. This is also the same place that substantiated allegations of Boston’s unstoppable bullpen and Jeter’s abyssmal defense.
It’s very aggravating because normally I might go all Slap-Chop-Machine-Commercial-Guy on his ass (maybe even use some of his lines, too. “Stop having a boring sports team. Stop having a boring life.) But, there’s probably something outlined in the company policy handbook that discourages this behavior.
This is what I’m up against. Never. A Moment’s. Peace.
So I’m on ESPN.com this afternoon, treating the site the same way I do my refrigerator when I compulsively visit it only to find that, just like 2 minutes ago, there’s still nothing worth consuming in it. And I end up checking out Bill Simmons’ mailbag, which is the equivalent of boiling an ear of corn that’s sitting in the freezer that I inexplicably bought thinking I’d someday have a hankering for it, but never do, but now that I’ve ruled out eating salsa from the jar, it’s really the only thing left to go to.
Then I get to this:
Q: I’m a 24-year-old female looking for a Halloween costume that (a) isn’t skanky (does that exist anymore??) and (b) will piss off as many people in NYC as possible. I’m from MA and it goes without saying a huge NE sports fan and somehow got sucked into living and working in Times Square for the past two years so I’d love a costume that would further alienate myself from the people in this city. Suggestions??
— Shannon, Astoria, N.Y.
I can’t decide whether I’m particularly irritable these days (weeks? months?), or if the universe is conspiring against me to see how close they can push me before I start blogging uninterrupted entries of “All sports and no play make CYC a dull chick.”
So I do what anyone would do, which is googling “Shannon from Astoria,” I guess in the hopes of finding her and banging her over the head with a phone book? Because who actively seeks out to piss off people in NY if you volunarily moved here? In the words of Donnie Darko, “GO BACK TO [BOSTON], BITCH.”
I hate to break it to you, Shannon (not really, though), but New Yorkers got bigger fish to fry than the trite attention-starved tactics of a New England-transplant. You can jump up and down, flapping your arms, wearing your most “infuriating” getup, and the only way we’ll even bat an eye is if you’re doing in our sight line of the Yankee game.
I’m about to leave the office for the day when I get an IM from raving-lunatic-enraged-at-baseline Mutts fan, sending me a link to a story about…good grief…Mauer’s Foul Ball. I swear, this issue is being stretched out more needlessly and annoyingly than then “results episodes” of American Idol.
Even Twins fans are over it, and at this point, I think the only people who really are still harping on it are those with steam coming out of their ears of the AUDACITY of A-Rod to not choke.
6:43 PM me: ah
6:44 PM are you still on this yankees-only-won-bc-of-the-blown-foul-ball-call kick?
6:45 PM Ollie: no they prob would have won the series anyway
but cc would’ve been used up
6:46 PM and wouldnt be able to go game1 of alcs
and everything would play out differently
I spent about 1,300 words on Saturday exhausting this topic, and I thought it was over and done with, but I guess when you missed the postseason, you’re really grasping at straws for things to obsess about.
You think things don’t even out? And that this has changed the course of the postseason? Well, consider for a minute that the Twins shouldn’t have been the ones we were even playing. In the 1-game playoff between Minnesota and Detroit, a ball brushed the jersey of Brandon Inge, but instead of ball 4, take your base, walk the run in, take the lead…
Life’s not fair. It didn’t change shit. No one knows whether Kubel would have even be pitched to with a man on 2nd. Or if Teixeira doesn’t go yard again.
The whole thing is preposterous, and the more I think about, the more I think that, contrary to what Mutts fans may argue to their death, the Yanks didnt have the Mafia pay off the umps. I think the Mutts did. Shift the focus away fom the series, away from A-Rod’s clutchess, and away from the actual postseason games in general.
Geez, Mutts, wouldn’t it have been easier to just be a Yankee fan?
Oh, and one final note on the Twinkies…
They are among the most classy fans and franchise in the game. I was over at cousin publication Minneapolis CityPages, and their comments are governed by guileless charm and graciousness.
And such was Day 1 of The Downtime. I know myself well enough to know that, if my mental deterioration operates on schedule, then tomorrow a mushrooming contempt for all things Opposing Team will begin to crystallize.
It’s the Sports Law of Thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change from one form to another.
This means you, L.A. Wait for it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2009