Bud Selig is probably weeping about now, as is the rest of the people involved who give a damn about TV ratings for the baseball playoffs.
Beelzebud's worst-case scenario for the National League came to pass on Saturday. Instead of the of the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams with tales of woe that would be sure to get good ratings in the National League Championship Series (the Cubs because of their fanbase diaspora, the Phillies because they're on the populous East coast), it'll be the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies meeting for the opportunity to get swept by whichever American League team makes the World Series.
The Cubs simply rolled over at home in Game 3, losing to a fired-up Diamondbacks team 5-1 that completed the three game sweep. The Phillies lost a heartbreaker, 2-1, and were swept when the Rockies manufactured a run in the bottom of the eighth inning in Denver. I get the sense that the Phillies used all their momentum just getting to the playoffs on the last day of the regular season; the Cubs have no such excuse, really, they just weren't very good to begin with.
So, there it is: two teams from West of the Mississippi, with no name players except maybe Todd Helton of the Rockies, that will be playing games that will last well past midnight in the crucial East coast TV market, battling it out in the NLCS. I really like the cut of the Diamondbacks jib: they have a solid lineup, the pitching has been good and they're playing really focused, inspired baseball. The same could be said of the Rockies, who complete an amazing transition from a team that finished last in the Western division last year to a team that has a very good chance to make the World Series.
A few notes on last night's Anaheim Angels v. Boston Red Sox game. I was sitting at home, drinking beer and surfing the Net while watching the game. I've hated the way Mike Scoscia has handled the Angels pitching staff all year and this game confirmed it: he went to the bullpen early and when he brought in closer Frankie Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, I knew the Angels were doomed (he'd blown 6 save chances prior to last night this season and had at least another dozen close calls).
Sure enough, the Sox got a runner on second, David Ortiz was intentionally walked, Nanny Ramirez hit a ball so hard I thought it was going to shatter the Coke bottle signs that are in back of the seating on top of the Green Monster and that was that, the Sox win 6-3. The ball merely landed on Lansdowne Street, but that shot gives the Sox a commanding 2-0 series lead.
I dreaded the Angels facing the Red Sox in the playoffs: the Sox own them and I'd have much preferred the Halos face the Yankees. Oh well. Please Angels, I love you, but don't prolong the agony on Sunday, just go meekly, word hard in the offseason, solve the problems at third base and middle relief and seriously, start thinking about getting a new closer. --Jim Allen