1. The national media (and, let’s be fair, UmpBump) obsessed over the will-they-or-won’t-they American League East title, as the Yankees posted a late surge and the Red Sox briefly flagged. But really, as both teams seemed extremely likely to make the postseason one way or another, this debate was only interesting to the rabid fans of each team. The real excitement was taking place in the National League. The AL is stronger than the NL, but has big divisions between rich and poor. The NL is more egalitarian, money-wise, and consequently the teams are more evenly matched. So it was that the season closed with a number of hard-fought, down-to-the-wire contests between NL teams, none more surprising than the Mets’ collapse and none more exciting than the one-game playoff between the Rockies and the Padres. Nevertheless, despite the close competition and unexpected upsets, count me shocked that it’s the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks playing in the NLCS. That will be appointment TV in the Green household. But if you’d told me in April that either one of those teams would be in the World Series come October, I would have laughed in your face. I love baseball.
2. The full beard is making a comeback, if the AL playoffs are any measure. On the Sox, both Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek are growing full beards, and David Ortiz’s chin strap has been widening to approach actual-beard status. On the Indians, Casey Blake, Jake Westbrook, and Travis Hafner all sport healthy beards. Alas, poor Mike Napoli of the Angels has too much neck for his beard; a key rule of beardedness being never to set the bottom edge of the beard above your jawbone. Amateur. Nevertheless, with Casey looking cute and the Captain finally (yes! thank you Jesus!) moving on from that mid-90s Tower Records-clerk goatee, it may be time for a slight modification to our long-neglected UFH category. Except, of course, for Napoli. And I’m not sure that Pedroia’s full-beard-but-no-moustache look is quite kosher.
3. TBS is awful. I mean, Fox was awful too but at least they had appropriate baseball postseason theme music. These Dane Cook ads are killing me. (The phrase “There’s only one October!” is quickly inculcating within me a Pavlov’s dog response of uncontrollable rage-induced spasms.) The boring announcers who can’t keep track of which team is batting are killing me. The fact that TBS couldn’t get an HD deal done with Comcast in time for the playoffs is killing me. In fact, I am slowly dying a TBS-induced death punctuated by rage-spasms.
4. Kenny Lofton looks younger than Joba Chamberlain. Yet I’ve been watching him steal bases since I was ten years old. I’d like to know what moisturizer he uses.
5. Grady Sizemore not only has a great last name (Size! More! ME LIKE SIZE! ME LIKE MORE!) he really is very dreamy. Though either he has the best razor known to mankind, or he hasn’t gone through puberty yet. I don’t think we’ll be seeing a beard on that tender chin anytime soon.
6. I’ve never seen so many bugs as there were in the Yanks-Indians game on Friday night. That was gross.
7. The euphoria (and noise) levels in Fenway Park on Friday (oh yes, I was there) after Manny Ramirez’s walkoff homer easily matched any I’ve ever seen. The scene from the Fens to the Pru at 1 am was all honking and hugging and high-fiving (there are no strangers in Red Sox Nation). And as Manny’s power returns at just the right time, Manny’s pimp jobs have regained their ridiculously offensive nature. I’m so glad he’s playing for my team, because I would have to hate him if he played somewhere else. Plus next year, I think his dreadlocks will be long enough to obscure the name on his travel jersey.
8. With the Sox up 9-0 in the bottom of the 8th right now, I think it’s safe to say that three of four division series have now ended in 3-0 sweeps. And with that, it’s time to tune in to the only ongoing series, over in the Bronx. Spotlight’s on Joe Torre, but if 22-million (prorated) man Roger Clemens can’t come up big tonight, you have to think Brian Cashman is going to be looking at the classifieds, too.