No Tiebreakers Necessary. Bring On the Playoffs!
September 29, 2014

It was a nice little two-day Bay Area getaway I had planned. Tuesday in Oakland to watch the American League wild card game, a night in the City, some walking around the Embarcadero and the Wharf on Wednesday, and then the National League wild card game at A T&T Park. On September 16 and 17 when I actually bought tickets to the two games, that scenario was likely, but both the A's and Giants blew it.

It figures. The one time I wanted the Giants to actually win a couple of games. I would have been rooting for Pittsburgh, of course, and my ticket was somewhere out in McCovey Cove, but it would have been fun to have been there. Both northern California teams did get in to the post-season, but will be playing on the road. The A's are in Kansas City tomorrow night, with the Giants at the Pirates on Wednesday.

Even though there were all kinds of scenarios on Sunday, with plenty of drama to go with it, everything turned out like it would have a week earlier. The Dodgers will have home field advantage against the St. Louis Cardinals, with play starting on Friday. There will be some pretty good pitching matchups, with Cy Young shoe-in and likely league MVP Clayton Kershaw against 20-game winner Adam Wainwright in the opener, and Zack Greinke (17-8, 2.71) and Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74) on Saturday.

The dream World Series matchup we're looking for here is Dodgers-Angels, and while that might be close to the betting favorite in Nevada, both teams have a lot of work to do. The Dodgers finished with the second-best record in the National League to the Washington Nationals, and although the Angels had the best record in the AL (98-64), they lost three straight to end the season, and their starting pitching is not in great shape. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson will start the first two games against the winner of the Oakland-Kansas City game, but then it's a question if Matt Shoemaker can come back from injury (similar to the Dodgers with Hyun-Jin Ryu), and the loss of Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.61) last month with a knee injury still hurts. The Angels still have Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to carry their offense.

As far as baseball is concerned, October starts tomorrow (even though it's September 30). A possible 43 games over the next 30 days. It could all end up in Los Angeles—a trip far more worth taking than an overnighter by the Bay.

TV Guide: Five different networks will be televising post-season baseball, making it very difficult to keep track of which game is on when and where. TBS starts it off tomorrow (Tuesday) with the AL Wild Card game, all American League Division Series (wild card-Angels, Tigers-Orioles) games, and all American League Championship Series games. That's the easy part. ESPN will have the NL Wild Card on Wednesday, but that will be the Worldwide Leader's only entry in the post-season fray. Now pay attention. Fox Sports One will have the National League Division Series (wild card-Nationals, Cardinals-Dodgers) except for Friday and next Monday, when one game each day will be shown by the MLB Network. FS1 will also have the NL Championship Series, except for Games 1 and 6 (both Saturdays), which will be shown over the air by Fox. Fox will also have all games of the World Series (hopefully Dodgers-Angels) starting October 24. If there is a quiz, it'll be open book, so feel free to copy these notes.

Check Local Listings: For some really strange reason, baseball has been very slow in announcing starting times. Both wiild card games Tuesday and Wednesday will begin at 5pm Pacific, but other announcements have been random. The Dodgers will play game one against St. Louis at 3:30pm Friday, and game two at 6:30pm Saturday. As of 10pm tonight (Monday), no starting times have been announced for the Angels' game one and two, but they will be at the AL Wild Card for Game 3 Sunday at 4:30pm. Saturday's NL game two at Washington will be at 2:30pm Pacific, but no time yet for game one. I know there are lots of networks involved here, but it isn't that hard.

Sunday fun day: I didn't so any football watching yesterday, but with the help of my now numerous digital devices (really?) and MLB.TV free all weekend, I set up my very own baseball sports bar, complete with some peanuts to nosh on, and maybe a bruskie or two. In the morning it was Yankees-Red Sox on my TV (only game on, Jeter's final game, blah blah blah), Pirates-Reds on my laptop, Twins-Tigers on my phone, and yes, Astros-Mets on my tablet. Astros-Mets was the best game. Max Stassi started at catcher, was 2-for-4 with a double, 2 RBIs, and threw a guy out trying to steal, and it wasn't exactly Derek Jeter, but Bobby Abreu retired, and singled in his final AB. In the afternoon, A's-Rangers on TV, Angels-Mariners on the laptop, and Rockies-Dodgers on the tablet. It is difficult to believe, though, that with all of those playoff implications, Yankees-Red Sox was the only game on national TV.

Mish-mash and miscellany: All of those games, all of those broadcasts I was watching and trying to listen to, and had no idea Washington's Jordan Zimmerman was pitching a no-hitter. How in the world did that happen?... Four of the six times the Dodgers have made the playoffs since 2000, they've faced the Cardinals at some point (2004, '09, '13, '14)... It's been kind of a Dodger tradition, that if the final game of the year doesn't matter, the inmates get to run the asylum. Juan Uribe was the manager, Clayton Kershaw the pitching coach, and Hanley Ramirez the bench coach against the Rockies Sunday, Uribe even wore Tommy Lasorda's jersey. Pretty cool... This year's A's have the worst winning percentage after the All-Star break (.433) of any team in playoff history, and ended up with the same record as the Giants (88-74)... Hawk Harrelson and the Chicago White Sox is probably the worst broadcasting in the business, but the one time I wanted to see them, they weren't there. The Chisox were facing the playoff-bound Royals, but WGN shows Brewers-Cubs...Seattle's Felix Hernandez won the American League ERA title, but only because of a gift from Major League Baseball. Last Tuesday, Toronto's Josh Thole bunted the ball toward Fernandez. When the ball stopped, King Felix tried to pick it up, missed, then picked it up again and threw too late to first base. The official scorer ruled the play a hit. Hernandez ended up being charged with seven runs in that inning, but four days later, MLB stepped in, changed the call to an error, four of those runs were now unearned, and Felix's ERA ended up at 2.14 compared to Chris Sale's 2.17. If you look at the play, it probably could have gone either way, and the official scorer's decision should be respected. In June, David Ortiz complained that his home town scorer didn't gave him a hit in a game against Minnesota. Five days later, the scorer changed the call, but only because of Ortiz' anger, and the likelihood of MLB stepping in. The Wrigley Field rain delay fiasco was also a gift to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants protest, and even though the tarp was not put on the field properly, no rules were broken, but the Giants won the protest because they were in a pennant race (they did end up losing the game)...Max Stassi batted .350 (7-for-20) with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs this season. He struck out 6 times.

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