R.I.P. pennant races
Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2011
It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing rhapsodic about the possibility of an epic four team National League Central Division pennant race. I had Pirate fever and was envisioning playoff games from PNC Park. Braves-Pirates would have been a fun first round matchup — a rematch of the 1991 and ’92 NLCS, and a chance for the Buccos to have reaped revenge.
Alas, what a difference four weeks make. Not only are the Pirates dead and buried — their hopes of breaking their 19year consecutive losing season streak all but dashed — the entire division has been taken over by the ascendant Brewers. Mind you, I am happy it’s Milwaukee, rather than the Cardinals and their insufferable skipper, LaRussa, but I would have preferred a good old-fashioned dogfight.
In fact, there is only one pennant race this year, and I am lucky enough to be residing in one of two major league cities that is still hosting meaningful games. By all rights, the San Francisco Giants should be buried, but it is their good fortune to play in the NL West, which contains a broke Dodgers, and a broken down Rockies. The Diamondbacks are a feisty, young squad, and they are the surprise team of 2011, but I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game, if that.
The Giants, with their pitching, would at least have a shot. They have been a walking M*A*S*H unit this year — at this writing they have nine players on the DL — and yet have managed to remain in the race. They picked up Carlos Beltran from the Mets, who did his best to blend in with his teammates by immediately going on the DL. What is it with Beltran — the man can’t stay healthy. He is a great player, but his entire career is based on the 2004 post season.
A September devoid of pennant races is a bitter pill for me to swallow. Once October begins, so does my personal hell, which consists of sweating through another Yankee blitzkrieg. It’s torture watching them grind their way through playoff run after playoff run. Yes, I know they’ve lost a few first round series in recent years, and the Redsox look formidable, (as does Texas) but something tells me that the Yanks will not be an easy out this year. I dread another Redsox – Yankees ALCS — those five hour marathons which end when some obscure Yankee hits a homerun.
All I hope for at the beginning of each baseball season is for the Yankees to miss the playoffs. This has occurred once in the last 16 years. It has been a reign of terror and there is no end in sight.
The fact that there may be no pennant races, thus cutting off my last enjoyable month of the year, is a bitter pill to swallow. Football, you can not start soon enough.