Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yesterday's game proved why winning the A.L. East is more important than ever

There's a scene towards the end of the movie For Love of the Game (where Kevin Costner plays Billy Chapel, a future Hall of Famer throwing a perfect game against the Yankees in the final start of his career, at the end of a last place season for the Tigers) where Billy tells his catcher he doesn't think he has anything left.  The catcher (played by John C. Reilly) delivers one of my favorite inspirational sports monologues (sadly I couldn't find a clip):
"Chappie, you just throw whatever you got, whatever's left. The boys are all here for ya. We'll back ya up. We'll be there. 'Cause, Billy, we don't stink right now. We're the best team in baseball right now, right this minute, 'cause of you. You're the reason. We're not gonna screw that up. We're gonna be awesome for you right now."

Last night the Houston Astros reminded me of this quote.  They have a roster full of Triple-A players (in fact before the game I'd only ever heard of two Astros total, Eric Bedard and Jose Altuve) that's buried in last place with a .333 winning percentage, 27 games out of first.  Their entire team's salary combined is comparable to John Lackey's.  

But yesterday Houston didn't stink.  Their energy, attitude, and hustle (summed up by the suicide squeeze that gave them a 2-0 lead) helped them play and act as if they were the best team in baseball.

It irritates me to no end when people make comments like "well, the Red Sox are a playoff team, but they can't win it all."  Oh really?  That Astros squad we saw last night could win the World Series if they were handed a playoff birth.  On any given day any MLB team can beat any other MLB team, and the playoffs are such a small sample that I'm confident every roster in the league would have a reasonable shot of winning it all if they were tossed into the postseason mix.

I wrote about this two years ago when it was first announced that baseball intended to add another Wild Card team; I hate the system as is.  There's a solid chance Boston could finish with the 2nd best record in the majors and end up stuck in a one-game playoff against Baltimore, Cleveland, or Texas.  And if you watched what happened yesterday, it's impossible to feel confident about a one-game playoff with anybody.

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