I think it's pretty cool that for one weekend, all of a sudden, the focus wasn't primarily on football.
Even with all the big upsets in college football and some of the storylines in the NFL, baseball has dominated the talk of the town.
Last week, on one night mind you, we saw Ryan Braun, Carlos Beltran, and Alexi Casilla win games for their teams in the last at-bat. It was one of the most magical nights in the regular season that we've seen in quite awhile.
This past weekend we saw a few aces take the ball in a dire situation to help take their team to the promise land.
Today, we get to see a rare occurrence as the White Sox make up a game with the Detroit Tigers to decide if Chicago will tie the Twins record wise or not. If the White Sox win, they will welcome the Twins into "The Cell" for a one game playoff.
The interesting subplot is the pitching matchup between Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd, who were traded for each other. Garcia also being a good friend of his former manager, Ozzie Guillen, is looking for a little bit of redemption. The two talked over dinner earlier this year when Garcia was on the comeback trail.
Guillen told everyone he didn't think Freddy Garcia would pitch again in 2008.
Guess again Ozzie! Garcia is now the last hurdle his former mates in Chicago have to hurdle in order to meet in a sudden death match with Minnesota. I'm personally pulling for Garcia, because I love to see Guillen squirm.
If the White Sox make it to the playoffs, they will have faced four different teams in their last four games. How crazy is that?
What's Making Me Shell out the Cash
I think I made it very clear where I stand on CC Sabathia and his off-season outlook. I think that statement got even louder after seeing him go out there and throw a complete game to seal the deal for the Brewers.
One guy who earned the cash he got was Johan Santana, after he did the same thing a day before. The only difference was that his team couldn't pull it off.
I think it was clear why the Mets not only gave up the prospects, but shelled out the money to get Santana in the off-season. Talk about two competitors who love to play the game, they define that statement.
Would I give that big, five or six, over $100 million dollar contract to anyone? No, but would I give it to Johan Santana or CC Sabathia? Absolutely!
It’s the sad situation that we have to realize as baseball fans that money of that magnitude will be shelled out. But, we have to be able to distinguish who deserves that type of money.
Not every big time free agent should be offered that type of deal.
But competitors with the skill and drive that both Sabathia and Santana have, they are the ones that deserve it.
I want guys who demand the ball in that situation. I want guys who want to take that clutch at-bat in the dire situations.
What's Making Me Review
You'll hear plenty from the Community Leaders here at Bleacher Report this week on what they have to say in terms of the awards and the playoffs. But, let me point you in the direction of one of the finer writers among the baseball world.
Jayson Stark always jam-packs pieces of information into his work and his end of the year review is no different. Let me run down some things that stick out to me.
In the Cy Yuk department, how about a few names to offer up that he didn't. The first one that comes to mind is Dontrelle Willis of the Detroit Tigers. What a disappointment that was after he was brought over from the Marlins along with Miguel Cabrera.
Stark based his award on players, who pitched a lot in the year, but the expectations for Willis were so high, he deserves a mention. He pitched in just eight games, some time missed because of injuries, but most missed because he was sent down to the minors.
Willis was sent not to Triple-A, but rather Single-A to find himself. The breaking point came against Cleveland when he gave up eight earned runs off three hits and five walks. Willis returned in September to pitch in three games and the results were more of the same. He walked at least five batters in five of his eight games this year showing that his control is completely gone.
How interesting is it to see that Lou Montanez officially got his first of his career in a game that happened when he was still in the minors. Don't forget that Alberto Castillo got his first win and Rocky Cherry recorded a save, all while they were in the minor leagues as well. That just goes to show you how crazy this game really is.
Joe Maddon's "Maddonisms" as I guess they could be called are point blank, hilarious. He is basically making up and blending words together at this point. Who uses phrases like "amorphic" or "emotionalist"?
I think the last faded memory of Bill Bavasi's tenure with the Mariners is the puzzling contract extension he gave to catcher Kenji Johjima with a stud prospect waiting in the wins. It is only fitting that Johjima turned in the performance that he did, which was simply awful.
One Final Thought For Our Departed
Since the season is over for 21 teams, I might as well give them all a proper send off as they leave us. Here is my parting shot for all the teams that we move on without.
How's that Erik Bedard deal working out for the Baltimore Orioles now? With Nick Markakis as the face of their franchise they could be back sooner than we think.
The oldest switch-hitting batting champ plays for the Atlanta Braves. Congrats to Chipper Jones, but after making the playoffs for 14 straight seasons, the Braves "not making it" streak is now at three.
Many failed expectations for my Cleveland Indians in 2008, but 2009 promises better times. The fanfare is around Cliff Lee's phenomenal year, but how about Grady Sizemore becoming the first Indian to reach the 30-30 mark since Joe Carter.
On the other side of Ohio, the Cincinnati Reds had a transition year under Dusty Baker. Given the letter they sent out to fans, it might not seem that way, but with a few promising rookies moving forward, they are primed for better days.
Bill Beane is at it again, shipping off any and every pitcher he seems to bring along through the Oakland Athletics. He started in the off-season with Dan Haren and got rich at the trading deadline with Rich Harden and Joe Blanton. Justin Duchscherer, you're next my friend.
It was a tough year for the San Diego Padres with a somewhat loaded pitching staff. Injuries took their toll on a team that was expected to compete in the West, but a few bright spots were still shining through. Chase Headley emerged and one of my favorites, Jody Gerut made a great comeback.
Tough first season for Joe Girardi back in pin-stripes with the New York Yankees. Shout out to Mike Mussina for finally hitting the elusive 20 win mark.
I think it’s safe to say that the buzz surrounding the Washington Nationals sort of died after opening night. They opened up their new ball park with a great win and it was a down year ever since.
Whether they win today or not, the Detroit Tigers will finish the year in the basement. Not quite the year the Tigers faithful were hoping for after adding an MVP caliber hitter to their lineup. Owner Mike Ilitch called this season a setback, you think?
I left the Houston Astros for dead like everyone always seems to do and the lasting memory is the unfair treatment they received due to the Hurricanes that misplaced them. I sympathize with them; I know how it feels to be moved to Milwaukee.
We talk about the Tigers setback, but how about the Seattle Mariners? I touched up on Bill Bavasi, but man did this whole team throw up a clunker. I'm ashamed to say I picked both them and the Tigers to win their respective divisions.
The San Francisco Giants are headed for brighter days if they keep their pitching rotation together. As noted, I've become a big Tim Lincecum fan this year.
Talk about dangerous rotations, does anyone notice that the Toronto Blue Jays finished the year with the best team ERA? This is a team that plays in the explosive AL East mind you.
There was much less fanfare for Shea Stadium as there was for Yankee Stadium. There was also much less fanfare over the New York Mets latest last-game of the year disappointment. Actually, I was just kidding about the second part.
With the disappointment from the Tigers comes the excitement for the Kansas City Royals. I know, they are still losers, but fourth place is progress, especially in a division that is so mixed from year to year. They are making a Tampa Bay-like effort in rebuilding their team.
They aren't making as much progress as the Royals, but the Pittsburgh Pirates at least have a plan with new General Manager, Neil Huntington. However, it was another losing season in the Steel City, oh well.
Josh Hamilton is great, but it makes you wonder why the Texas Rangers need so many sluggers after they traded Edinson Volquez to get him. A starting pitcher or two should be high on their off-season priority list.
It was a disappointing year for the Colorado Rockies after coming off a trip to the World Series. Unfortunately, changes might be aboard with newer talent coming up and free agency looming.
I'd like to hope I was right when I said that the Hanley Ramirez contract would usher in a new era with the Florida Marlins. But more moves could be made in the off-season by this team. However, they would be wise to cash in on the successful years of Jorge Cantu or Mike Jacobs, especially with a replacement in Dallas McPherson waiting in he wings.
Great to see the St. Louis Cardinals remain competitive despite everyone's better judgment. A big reason for that was the emergence of journeyman Ryan Ludwick. Great to see Ludwick finally make it big.
To say 2008 was disappointing for the Arizona Diamondbacks would be an understatement. They got off to a hot start and did nothing but fade and fade and fade some more.
What I Am Randomly Thinking About
Because I promised you, here is the mandatory update on all my fantasy baseball squads. Two league championships, two runner-ups, two third-place finishes, and two fourth or lower finishes. One was fourth place and the other was eighth place in Bleacher Report's league, I'm so ashamed. Not bad as a whole, but with eight leagues the odds of winning at least one have to be high, right?
The Rays have apparently sold out their first two home playoff games. That is a relief to baseball fans everywhere if you ask me. Especially after Arizona couldn't do that last year.
Also the Rays are going into the playoffs with that magic still alive after Ben Zobrist had yet another magical come-from behind win for Tampa Bay on the final game of the regular season.
Ryan Howard can't seem to get over that 200 strikeout mark. Two years in a row now he's landed on 199. This year he had some competition as Mark Reynolds broke the single season record by tallying 204. The D'Backs brought in Adam Dunn not just for the stretch run, but to help coach Reynolds to the mark. Congratulations Mark Reynolds!
The season is over for most teams and with that I sort of feel like a piece of myself is missing. I watched every last pitch of the ninth inning of the Cleveland Indians game yesterday, knowing full well it would be the last time I got to see my boys of summer until next April.
But now, we still have plenty of post-season baseball to take in. Thank god for that!
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