Friday, October 12, 2012
Crabcakes and Baseball - That's What Division Series Are All About
It took five games for the Tigers to outlast the Athletics, and it took five games for the Giants to stage a backs-against-the-wall comeback against the Reds. Friday night, the Orioles will attempt to take down the Yankees at home, and the Nationals will try to use their own home field advantage to wipe out the defending World Champion Cardinals.
The Reds won their first two games against the Giants in San Francisco, but went winless at home -- where they went 50-31 in the regular season -- for the remainder of the series to fall 3-2. The A's, fresh off a walk-off win in the ninth inning of Game 4, could only muster four hits without a run against the indomitable Justin Verlander to fall 6-0 in Game 5, and 3-2 in the series.
But onto Friday. The Orioles have never lost a series in New York, and tied the season series at 9-9. They'll send Jason Hammel into the trenches against Yankees ace CC Sabathia. Neither team has gotten their offense going, with players like Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Jim Thome, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher all hitting under .200 for the series. I like the Orioles here, though. The Yankees have looked sluggish at home, and if the O's can get an early run on the board, that should be all the confidence they need.
Just south of Baltimore, Washington will try to advance using their "October Natitude." I agree, its one of the worst postseason slogans, but whatever gets the people going. Riding the coattails of Jayson Werth's walk-off home run, their momentum coupled with Gio Gonzalez on the hill should bump them past the Cards with ease.
Underdog stories are few and far between in baseball. The A's have already been bounced, with the O's and Nats trying to play Cinderella this year. Last season, the Cardinals barely squeaked in to win it all. Thinking back before that, however, you'd have to go to the Rays in 2008, when they beat out the defending champion Red Sox. They couldn't get 15,000 people to Tropicana Field on a given night, but then the postseason came, the place was filled to the catwalks, and I was hearing cowbells for the next week and a half.
They eventually lost to the Phillies for the World Series, but in my opinion, baseball has never been on the stage it is on this year. The NHL is in a lockout, freeing up fans' evenings as the season should be underway. Cities like Oakland, Baltimore and D.C. have turned out in full force to support their teams like never before, filling up their respective parks. If there would be any games to watch this postseason, it will be the games tonight.