Sunday, October 2, 2011

You’ve just gotta believe...

Can anyone believe that the 2011 season could have ended in a more exciting way? How many ball fans went to bed on Wednesday night thinking that the Braves might prevail against the Phillies, that the Sox had the Orioles in just the right place, and the Yankees had the Rays in a stranglehold at 7-0? The only thing that had been decided in the Wild Card race by late evening was that the Cards were still in the race since they’d drawn the Astros for the final series and crushed them – not a difficult thing to do this season.

When the last of the evening’s games ended, though, the Braves had given away the tying run in the 9th inning and lost it in the 14th, the Sox ace closer had coughed up the tying and go-ahead runs to the Orioles with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, and holy cow, the Yankees let the Rays back into the game with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th (including bases-loaded walks?!), and a game-tying homer from a Ray pinch hitter who hadn’t hit a big fly since April and whose average was well-below the Mendoza line. In the 12th, Evan Longoria won it with a walk-off homer.

What the heck happened?

Arguably the most exciting wrap-up to a season ever, that’s all. Three of the four critical games were tense, nail-biting affairs, two went to extra innings, one included a lengthy rain delay and one was about as improbable as it gets.

It’s the last I’d like to comment on. What in heaven’s name was Joe Girardi thinking? I kept wondering whether he’d gone back to his office to enjoy a few hands of canasta with his brain trust while his players fiddled. Was he trying to get revenge against the hated Red Sox by coughing up the game? Did he not care how the game ended? Or was he being a petulant baby because he didn’t like the playoff schedule this year? Regardless, he left a pitcher on the mound who obviously didn’t have it that night to let the Rays climb right back into the game. His later comments showed that he didn’t want to use his primo closer and back-end pitchers because he wanted them adequately rested for the first ALDS game on Friday. Huh? For the Yankees, it was a bush league way to play this very important game. It was almost as if he wanted to lose.

I was going to root for the Tigers to win the AL this year. I like the team a lot. After thinking about game 162 for the Yankees, though, I am more inclined to root for the Rays. Wouldn’t it be sweet justice for them to prevail against the Rangers, face the Bronx Bombers for the AL crown – and then whip their butts to take the prize? That would be sweet revenge for Girardi and his managerial el-foldo in Wednesday night’s game in Tampa.

Does anyone else feel that the Yankees could have won this game if Joe Girardi had wanted to?

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