Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bye Bye Division Championship

The 2005 American League East Champions? The New York Yankees.

Sadly, the Red Sox have faltered behind the ‘stripes once again, finishing in second place and continuing this disturbing trend in the divisions history. The eighth straight division title was made even more disturbing watching the Yankees celebrate in the center of the Fenway diamond. Torre crying and hugging his team. Sheffield pumping his chest and A-Rod slapping the ball out of Tino’s hand for a nice keepsake. But you have to give this team credit, as much as I despise the ground they walk on. People, including me, wrote off this team numerous times during the season, and yet they battle through the tough times with a little help from two journeymen and an offense that never stopped truckin’.

The game was not much of a contest, and was probably the most painful and miserable I’ve been all season watching the Red Sox. With every single second that ticked, the Yankees were getting closer and closer to winning the division once again. They made this perfectly clear with a three run first inning that quieted the crowd and caused Ben Affleck to have a short seizure near the Sox dugout. Manny countered with a big blast of his own, and my confident rose once again. It’s just one crappy inning for Wake, we’ll be fine.

Not so much. The Yankees made Manny’s homer irrelevant with two runs in the top of the second and later with Matsui and A-Rod homeruns. Wakefield’s knuckleball was completely flat that even when the Yankees recorded outs, they still creamed the ball. You can tell by the second inning whether Wakefield has his A stuff, and today it was pretty obvious it wasn’t there. He’s been great for us this season, so we’ll let this one slide. Or at least I’ll try.

There is some excellent news out of Cleveland, and that is the continuing slide of the Indians, as they lose again to the ChiSox 4-3 in a nail biter. This means that the Red Sox will be playing baseball past tomorrow no matter what happens. A Red Sox win tomorrow or an Indians loss means we take the wild card and ride that streak of four consecutive World Series champions being Wild Card winners. A Red Sox loss and a Cleveland win means there will be a one game playoff at Fenway on Monday night to decide who goes to the playoffs and who goes home. I imagine the Yankees will rest Mussina and pitch Jaret Wright tomorrow along with a group of subs, maybe Bellhorn, so we should be able to clinch a playoff berth. Let’s hope.

If the Red Sox do win or the Tribe falls, the Red Sox would play the White Sox in the first round. Tell you the truth, I’m ecstatic about this development. I would much, MUCH rather play the White Sox than the Angels in the first round. Sure the home field advantage would be nice, but the White Sox scare me about as much as Alan Embree. They do have the big basher in the middle of the lineup in Paul Konerko, but Konerko is no Sheffield, A-Rod or Vlad. The rest of their lineup is hitting about .270 as a group and really pose no threat. The only worry is the speed and defense, but you saw during their near choke job that that plan can go up in flames quickly.

The pitching of Chicago? Bah. If I was typing this in June, Buehrle and Garland would have scared me to death, but now Garland seems average and Buehrle has no playoff experience. They also have our personal boxing dummy Jose Contreras who is red hot but is Jose Contreras. The bullpen? Politte is nasty, Jenks throws in the high 90’s and Hermanson’s had a good year, but those guys are nothing compared to facing a Rivera or K-Rod.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The division would have been nice, yes, but the wild card isn’t a bad secondary option. Let’s just win tomorrow and make the playoffs. Just win tomorrow.


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