Brownie Points: Amazing finale to baseball regular season - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Amazing finale to baseball regular season

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at jbrown5548@aol.com

Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 4:03 pm

Things we learned in the amazing final two days of baseball's interminably long regular season:

• The Diamondbacks want me to turn off the television on them.

I did it on Tuesday, when the Warlocks were down 4-1 (eventually 6-1) in the 10th inning against the Dodgers. When I found out the next morning that they had rallied for six runs - all with two outs and no one on - I felt like I'd missed Haley's Comet fly over the house. Replays didn't cut it.

The next night, they were down 7-0 in the ninth inning. Jerry goes "click" and, on cue, the D-Backs commence the rally sequence. I apologize to all other viewers; I checked back in just after Henry Blanco made it 7-5 with the second home run of the inning which, of course, was like pulling back the curtain in "The Wizard of Oz." Two meek outs later, I had ruined the party for everyone.

• If you're a Red Sox fan, don't ever ask Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy "What's the worst thing that can happen?"

During the Boston-Baltimore rain delay Wednesday night - with the Sox up 3-2 and the Rays down 7-0 in the eighth inning of their respective games, Shaughnessy confidently announced on NESN that the worst thing that could happen was that Boston would have to go to Tampa for a one-game playoff the next day.

Come on Dan, you're not new here. Even with two championships and one bloody sock in the last seven years, this still is the Red Sox we're talking about. Yes, teams rarely see a reversal of fortune, in two games, that late. But then again, teams blow nine-game leads in September about as often as Tom Brady tosses four interceptions in a game.

Yup, it was a wicked haaard week in Beantown.

• If you are playing a team that is hopelessly out of the playoffs and "playing out the string," make sure Buck Showalter isn't sitting on that opposite bench.

That guy never takes his foot off the gas pedal - ever, ever, ever. Four hours into the final game of the season, after a long rain delay, nothing was conceded. It's not always the most endearing quality in a field general - and a big reason why Buck always has his bags packed - but it can be a nightmare for a team trying to nail down a postseason spot over his dead body.

• Kurt Gibson is Manager of the Year in the National League, but Joe Maddon is Manager of the Year for planet Earth.

Look at that roster. Look at that payroll. The Rays make the D-Backs look like the Yankees. They even wound up with the wrong Upton.

But when Evan Longoria's home run tip-toed over the shortest fence in baseball early Thursday morning, Tampa had nailed down its third playoff spot in the last four years, while playing in the same division with the Yankees and Red Sox.

• If baseball had expanded their playoff system for 2011, the best two days in recent baseball history wouldn't have been nearly as cool.

Add another wild card in each league and the two biggest choke jobs in the history of the game - Atlanta and Boston - would have simply limped into the playoffs. I don't even think there is a list of historic playoff-limper-inners (although now that I've mentioned it, ESPN and the worker bees at Elias Sports Bureau are hard at work).

Having 10 teams in the playoffs means more revenue. Like the NFL, it will keep more mediocre teams in the hunt longer. But is there really another team that deserves to be in the postseason this year? The Giants? The Angels? Chokers I and II?

• If Terry Francona wants to leave Boston, fine. I wouldn't blame the guy. But if you lead your franchise to two championships after almost a century of futility, you should earn the right to choose your exit strategy.

The Red Sox lost their way because instead of fist-fighting the Yankees, they became them. These weren't "the idiots" - the tight-knit group of Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek. This was a $160 million group of mismatched mercenaries who missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

It's the same fantasy team fallacy that has limited the Yankees to one title in the last decade and opened the door for Tampa Bay - a team with a fourth of the payroll but twice the cohesion.

Quick hitters

• I know the divisional series are already one game in, but I only get one shot at this a week so here are my picks: the D-Backs, Phillies, Rangers and Tigers, all in four games. Key players to watch for Arizona: Daniel Hudson and Miguel Montero.

• Whatever possessed Daron Sutton to scream out "Are you watching Milwaukee?" after Ryan Roberts' walk-off grand slam on Tuesday? I'm sure he is hearing it everywhere he goes in his old stomping grounds this weekend. YouTube can be a real pain sometimes.

• Giants 20, Cardinals 17: The true embarrassment of scoring 10 points against the Seahawks won't be realized until later in the season, when teams are beating them about the wings and beak. The Big Red needed to be at least 2-1 after the first three games. Now it gets harder.

Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at jbrown5548@aol.com

 

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