Some part of me was hoping that these upstarts from Tampa Bay would somehow win Game 5 of their division series against the Houston Astros.
But that would have been a pretty weird thing to see. Even with all the feel-good journalism that has been written about the Rays in recent days, how they are a team comprised of losers and rejects, seeing them celebrating in Houston would have made lots of people feel sick.
There had been an idea creeping up to me, as I was waiting for the game, to pick up my phone and call my bookie and put ten grand on the Rays.
Now that I think about it, I had similar emotions about the idea of making that bet, as I had when I first donated money to children in West Africa to try beat ebola there a few years ago. A kind of frenzied passion that what I was doing was right.
I had watched Charlie Morton pitch like the grim-reaper and Ji-man Choi constantly hit homers in their Game 3 (10-3) Win. And somehow, they had managed to bull-pen their way through to a Game 5 after Justin Verlander had a day to forget.
But then I had a cold shower and sobered up.
I realized I had been drunk on hysteria.
I looked at both teams on paper and decided it wasn’t even close. How the hell could a bunch of pariahs cut the Astros’ throats at home? It simply wasn’t possible. I looked outside and saw that nothing was written in the stars. I didn’t make any phone calls, I watched the game calmly and when it was over I had a cup of milk and went to bed.
This is a seriously good team that Houston has.
Gerrit Cole is now the top dog MLB ace and Jose Altuve, that little pocket rocket, just keeps whacking that ball into play and getting on base or sending others through to home plate. He is addicted to RBI’s. He appears to be a junkie for post-season baseball. The kind of guy who has a special uniform ironed and ready to go just for October. Probably only a bullet can stop him now.
They advance to play the Yankees in the ALCS, which is clearly a blockbuster series. Something everybody wanted to see.
Neither of these teams were in the World Series last year. The Yankees won the Wild Card, but then lost in the ALDS. In last year’s ALCS, the Astros, the defending champs, were thrown out on the street.
Both teams lost to the Boston Red Sox, who are now watching proceedings on television, sipping margaritas in Bora Bora, quietly confident nobody will recognize them there and laugh at them in public for missing the playoffs.
The Dodgers have been murdered in Los Angeles again, this time by the Nationals and they didn’t even make to the World Series. With the Nats and Cardinals, the NLCS is looking much weaker than the ALCS and I would wager that the World Series will be won by either the Astros or the Yankees easily.
Contrary to history, there is a lot to like about the Yankees this year, having worked their way out of some very deep, honest problems all season and not come to the arena looking like a sort of Vince McMahon caricature (as per their stereotype).
They are a good team, but not as good as the Astros and I am not sure they can even take it as deep as the Rays did to be honest. There is a taste of bitterness in the air over Tampa tonight.
But the Rays can add this to their recent run of modest achievements. Being a small-market team, with a terrible stadium and a Floridian fanbase and all. They have made a trip to the playoffs for the fourth time this decade, with six winning seasons, which to the blissfully ignorant, is actually an incredible achievement.
But this is the MLB. And it’s not enough to make it out of the sewer, only to get curb-stomped by the garbageman at the end of the pipe.
It is a ruthless business. You need to be loaded, lucky and lustful if you want to win it all in October.
And that’s how the ALDS was won.
Prediction: Houston 4 – Tampa Bay 1.