What a season. Seriously. Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday. The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees.
It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division. We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season. Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him? And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break? I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong. I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’.
In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers. I’ll give the Yankees credit. When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine. A super-expensive machine. The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting. Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen. The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained. (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)
I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful. I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason. It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization. Strike-outs? Yawn…whatever. Errors? I just rolled my eyes. None of it mattered. How refreshing is that?
Carefree? Yep…that’s me. I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training. On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day. On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday. When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season. It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended. There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen. But I think that’s what got to me. I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad. Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it. I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too. And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year. Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do. I know for many players, it’s just a job. But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck. More than a quest for a mention in the record books. There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans. And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.
Baseball…good to the last drop!