Wednesday, October 1, 2014

KC/Oakland. A game for the ages

Now that was a helluva game. At KC, the As jumped in front 2-0, and the Royals came back to take a 3-2 lead. Oakland put up a 5 spot in the 6th inning to go ahead 7-3. But never giving up, KC clawed back to tie it 7-7. In extra innings, Oakland went ahead 8-7, only to have KC tie it again.

Finally, FINALLY the Royals prevailed, much to the delight of whatever fans were still sober and awake.

That means Oakland is done this year. Outta here.

It's ironic when you think about it. Earlier in the year, the As had zoomed off to a terrific first half of the season, with the best record in baseball. Then they made a couple block-buster trades obtaining some dynamite starting pitching. Alas, it cost them their clean-up hitter.

Instead of pulling even further away in their division -- they promptly went in the tank, not only blowing a once hefty lead, but finishing a full 10 games behind the LA Angels, to barely hang on to a wild card spot. No matter how one wishes to slice it and dice it, over the last few months the As have collapsed faster than Obama's approval ratings.

So now they get to go back to Hell's Angels land and try to figure out how and why the wheels came off their team when they were supposed to get even better. Billy better put his Beane to work.

Nevertheless, hats off to KC. They move on. But they're at distinct disadvantages going into the AL division playoff series against the LA Angels. Consider:

They used their best starting pitcher, James Shields, in the deciding win over Oakland. He'll be in the middle of the rotation against the Angels, and may or may not be available for more than one start.

The Royals have to fly to LA, a couple time zones away, to open the series. Sure, teams travel all the time on road trips, sometimes coast to coast. But after all the travel over the course of a season, it's got to take it's toll eventually.

Plus, during the marathon game against the As, the Royals burned through a whole lot of players -- especially pitchers. The 40 man roster teams are allowed on September 1st is whacked back down to 25 when the post-season starts.

Meanwhile, the Angels have been sitting at home resting up. And let's not forget, the Halos posted the best record in all of baseball over the course of the regular season. In fact, they were the only team to finish with a winning record of over .600. Top to bottom, given starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting, overall defense, and team speed, the Angels are definitely a cut above other major league teams -- and especially Kansas City.

This should be a breeze for the Disneylanders -- right?

We'll see. The game can be unpredictable sometimes. There was no way the 1968 Detroit Tigers should have beat the mighty Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series -- but they did. Don't forget the Miracle Mets a year later over the hugely favored Baltimore Orioles. And just a few years ago, the same Cardinals barely squeaked into the playoffs as a wildcard, then went on to crush the same favored Tigers in the fall classic.

Sometimes there's just no rhyme, reason, or logic to it. And when it comes to the playoffs, we can toss that inane stat-babble, sometimes called Sabermetrics, out the window. That's for the geeks during the regular season.

When the playoffs start -- just like any regular season game, or even series -- anybody can beat anybody else. Look at it this way. In some sports, when a team is really good, they could reasonably be expected to win seven, maybe even eight out of ten. But that NEVER happens in major league baseball over a season. When you think about it -- winning a mere 6 out of 10 doesn't sound so difficult. Barely above average. But the Angels were the only team to do it this year. The worst team in all of major league baseball was the Arizona Diamondbacks, finishing a whopping 30 games behind the NL West champion LA Dodgers. But even the recently fired Kirk Gibson's supposedly sack sad crew won roughly 4 out of 10. It's not like they went 10-152.

Every other team in the playoffs, both in the AL and NL, had a winning percentage somewhere in the .500s. That means they win slightly more than they lose.

So who will win it all? If I knew that, I wouldn't be deep in the labyrinth of the man cave writing this blog post. Instead, I would have already landed at McCarron and be looking down out of my suite at Bellagio's in Vegas watching the fountains after having bet the house and my yorkies' future Milk Bone IRA with one of their sports books a few floors down.

On with the games. We shall see, but I'm kinda leaning towards the Nats. Lord knows, DC could use some good publicity these days......

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