Since I’m a diehard A’s fan, you could say that I’m used to my share of October surprises and heartbreaks. But I never saw this year coming….
I don’t even know where to begin with the National League (NL) West, a veritable Triple-A compared to the rest of the league. Honestly, the Padres? Those sneaky bastards manhandled their way into what was supposed to be another vicious rivalry season between the Dodgers and Giants, who truly unraveled without the help of a juiced one-man team for over half the season.
By the way, does anyone else agree that a team below .500 shouldn’t even be allowed to compete in the playoffs? In the first round, St. Louis should get a bye and start preparing for the NL Division Series. Seriously.
What about the freak show in Oakland? Half the starters are my age, give or take a few years. After releasing two of the best pitchers in baseball and shuffling through minor leaguers as the big boys dropped daily to the Disabled List, the A’s became the first team in 70 years to go from 15 games below .500 to 15 over. And they even had a few stints at the top of the division. A bunch of no name 20-somethings really gave the Angels – who are obviously trying to take over the world by becoming the first team ever to claim two cities as its home – a run for their money this year.
I’m not even going to touch the Cardinals because they were the NL Central surprise of the season last year. However, I still intend to comment on the American League (AL) Central Division.
In 2003, after barely finishing with a .500 record, the Chicago White Sox were outshined by their crosstown rivals, who with the addition of Nomar Garciaparra still “missed” the World Series thanks to some goat. This year, the Sox chugged along with the best record in the major leagues for a majority of the season and still boast the best record in the AL.
If you can’t take any more of that, then how about we move to the East?
It’s about damn time. Those money-hungry Yankees are 0-4 in Series titles since 2001. Practically all season long they could only dream of first place. Karma? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Over in the NL, the Washington Nationals — way out of contention at this point — gave the boys up top a real scare for a while. And over the course of six months in D.C., this team has already drawn twice as many fans as Montreal. I guess that goes to show that anything’s better than Canada, eh?
However, the biggest shock of the year has nothing to do with rankings. The year 2005 was when MLB officials actually tested and punished players for using steroids. The first charged player claimed that he hadn’t “knowingly” used them. I think that someone should really stop slipping performance enhancers into Rafael Palmeiro’s Viagra. Who’d have guessed that we’d live to see this crackdown? Mark McGwire certainly has no comment on that.
And yet October rears its head once again. There are still a few determining series left. Some contenders need a real miracle to pull ahead.
Certainly no one could have predicted any of this year’s outcomes. So you want to take a stab at this year’s Series? With the way things have been going, my money’s on some no-namer pulling out of the AL wild-card race and taking it all.