Thursday, September 29, 2011

That was a Crazy Night of Baseball!

Last night was maybe the most dramatic, exciting, incredible night in the history of regular season baseball.  Both the AL and NL wild card playoff spots were up for grabs.  In the AL, the Tampa Bay Rays were tied with the Boston Red Sox.  If both teams won or both teams lost, they would have played today in a one game playoff to see who wins the wildcard.  In the NL, the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals were in the same position.  To add to the drama, both the Red Sox and the Braves were in the midst of an epic collapse to finish the season.  The Red Sox led the Rays by 9 games, 9 games!, earlier in September.  And the Braves led the Cardinals by 8.5 games as late as September 5th.  If both teams had played just .500 baseball for the month, they would have clinched the wildcard spot days ago.


St. Louis Cardinals @ Houston Astros:  This was the weakest game of the night.  The Astros were the worst team in Major League Baseball this year and the Cardinals had their ace, Chris Carpenter, pitching.  The Cards won 8-0 and had to wait around to see what happened with the Braves.  Remember, if the Braves also win, the Cardinals and Braves would play tonight in a one-game playoff.  If the Braves lose, the Cardinals win the wildcard.

Philadelphia Phillies @ Atlanta Braves:  Tough matchup for the Braves.  The Phillies are MLB's best regular season team, and the Braves were clearly reeling down the stretch.  However, the Phillies had pitcher Joe Blanton on the mound, basically their 6th best starting pitcher.  The Braves held a 3-2 lead going into the top of the 9th inning.  3 outs away from a win and a one-game playoff with the Cardinals, winner take all. 

Boston Red Sox @ Baltimore Orioles:  On paper, the easiest matchup possible for the Red Sox.  The Orioles were the worst team in the AL this season and the Red Sox have arguably the best lineup in baseball, with 3 legit MVP candidates.  But they don't play the games on paper.  After a long rain delay that only added to the drama by delaying the game just long enough so it coincided with the end of the Yankees/Rays game, the Red Sox led 3-2 entering the bottom of the 9th inning.  Enter Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox closer who had been lights out this season, especially in September.  3 outs away from a win and control of their destiny.

New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays:  The Yankees had clinched home field advantage in the AL a few days ago, so this game meant nothing to them.  Sure, they knew if they beat the Rays, it gave the Red Sox, their bitter rivals, a better chance to make the playoffs.  But still, the Yankees rested essentially all of their starters and used 11, yes 11 pitchers!  All of them almost irrelevant come playoff time.  Surprisingly, the Yankees jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, beating up on the Rays ace David Price.  They held that 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th inning.  The Rays were 7 runs down and 6 outs away from a potentially season ending loss.


First, the Braves blew their lead to the Phillies.  The Phillies tied the game up 3-3 in the top of the 9th, forced extra innings, and then scored a run in the top of the 13th to take a 4-3 lead.  With a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the 13th, the Braves Freddie Freeman (their hottest hitter), grounded into a game-ending and season-ending double play.  2 outs away from forcing a one game playoff, the Braves complete their collapse and the Cardinals win the wildcard, advance to the playoffs and get to play the Phillies.

Meanwhile, the Rays get hot in the bottom of the 8th and score 6 runs to make it a 7-6 game.  With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Rays pinch hit Dan Johnson.  Dan Johnson's last hit in a MLB game was on April 27th.  Yes, he hadn't had a HIT in the major leagues since April 27th!  With a 2-2 count, 2 outs and 1 pitch away from possibly ending the Rays season, Dan Johnson smacked a solo homerun to tie the game 7-7.  Later, the Rays got out of a jam in the top of the 12th and entered the bottom of the 12th inning, season on the line, tied 7-7.

Back to the Red Sox.  Papelbon enters the game in the bottom of the 9th, up 3-2, and gets 2 quick outs.  The Red Sox are 1 out away from at least forcing a one game playoff with the Rays.  Orioles 3rd baseman Chris Davis hits a 2 out double.  Outfielder Nolan Reimold hits a ground-rule double that scores Davis.  Game is tied 3-3 and Papelbon blows the save.  Next better is Robert Andino (who?).  Andino hits a soft liner to left field.  Red Sox million-dollar free agent Carl Crawford charges the ball, does a half slide/dive and can't come up with it.  Reimold rounds 3rd as Crawford comes up throwing (if you can call it throwing) and Reimold scores easily.  Game over.  Orioles 4 Red Sox 3. 

At the same time, the Rays start the bottom of the 12th inning.  The crowd is going crazy because the scoreboard for the Orioles-Red Sox game just showed the Orioles tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the 9th.  BJ Upton leads off the inning, one of the Rays best hitters.  He strikes out, but in doing so, the crowd goes crazy again as the scoreboard updates to show Orioles 4 Red Sox 3.  Drama and tension building.  Now the Rays know they are one run away from not only completing a 7 run comeback, but winning the wildcard outright.  Next up - Evan Longoria.  Longoria already hit a 3-run homerun earlier in the game, his 30th of the season.  He works the count to 2 balls and 2 strikes.  Next pitch:  GAME OVER.  He drills a low, screaming linedrive into the left field corner that clears the fence by maybe, MAYBE, 2 feet.  Walk off.  Rays win.  Red Sox collapse.  Braves collapse.  Instant MLB classic night.

I honestly couldn't fall asleep for 30 minutes after all of this went down.  I was tweeting like a mad man (@djameson87), watching Sportscenter and sending 500 word text messages to my brother since he likely fell asleep.  Amazing night of baseball.

Playoff Matchups:

Tampa Bay Rays @ Texas Rangers
Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies

Let's go Tigers!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shots of Jame-O: September 22, 2011

Now that football season is in full swing, baseball playoffs are right around the corner, and the Fall TV season kicked off with new shows (and returning shows), I think it's time for another blog post.  I apologize to all of you who check this blog every single day and night hoping and praying for new posts to get you through the long weeks (McCarthy).  I AM BACK.


2 weeks down and 15 to go in the NFL regular season.  Lots of exciting stuff happening, like the Redskins and Bills both 2-0!  (You thought I was going to mention a certain blue and silver team, huh?  Nope, no jinxing from me).  I'm not going to comment on my pre-season predictions just yet, as it is still way too early.  But clearly (and as someone was kind enough to point out on the blog) I was wrong on Peyton Manning and the Colts.  As Peyton goes, so go the Colts.  At least they will have Andrew Luck waiting in the wings to learn from Manning like Rodgers did from Favre.  I think that turned out ok for the Packers.  A few other quick observations:  the Patriots and Tom Brady look like world-beaters (he's on pace for 7,500 passing yards!).  The Seahawks look absolutely horrible, mostly because they gave the keys to Tavaris Jackson (sorry, Colleeeen).  The "Dream Team" is 1-1 with Vick already wobbling.  And the Redskins and Bills look like this year's "IT" teams (reverse jinx). 

Fantasy Football:

With the NFL comes fantasy football - and who doesn't love fantasy football?  Let me answer that - I don't!  Typical start to the fantasy football season for me.  I play in 4 money leagues.  In 3 of those, I'm 2-0 and either in 1st or 2nd place overall.  My teams look strong and ready to contend all year.  In my other league, I'm 0-2.  And yes, that is the league I care the most about.  It's year 7 for that league and I've never won a championship.  I thought with Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Antonio Gates I would be stacked.  Instead, those guys have 0 TDs through 2 weeks.  And 0 double-digit point performances.  Awesome.  Some observations:  Cam Newton!  Wow.  Whoever has Arian Foster better hope they also picked up Ben Tate (I drafted him in that 0-2 league, wisely).  Don't forget that Ben Tate was supposed to be the #1 guy for the Texans last year before a season ending injury let Arian Foster run wild.  Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden all look poised to battle for the #2 RB spot behind Adrian Peterson this year.  Those guys are monsters in a point-per-reception league.  Oh, and guess who has 2 more TDs than Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Antonio Gates this year?  KUUUUUUHHHHHHHNNNNNNN.  Pick him up and drop Foster/Johnson now!  (Only if you are in one of my leagues). 

Fall 2011 TV Season:

Last year there were some exciting shows that premiered...and I think they all were cancelled after one season.  I really, really liked The Chicago Code, a FOX drama about cops in Chicago and political corruption.  Of course, it was cancelled after an awesome season finale.  Some people I know got into "The Event" on NBC.  I watched for about 6 episodes or so, and had absolutely NO CLUE what "The Event" was.  Was that ever revealed?  That reminds me a little of the AMC show "The Killing", where all season long the tag line was "Who killed Rosie Larsen?", only the finale didn't really tell us who killed Rosie Larsen.  Anyway, this season there does not appear to be a lot of new shows that are worth watching...and even if they seem interesting, my advice would be not to get too attached; new network shows rarely make it these days.  That said, here are a few that I'll be checking out:

Person of Interest:  Debuts 9/22 at 9pm on CBS.  Centers on ex-CIA hitman and a scientist who team up to prevent crimes before they happen.  The scientist is the guy who played Ben Linus on "LOST" - one of my favorite characters.  And the ex-CIA hitman is the dude from Frequency who gets to talk to his dad back before his dad dies and tries to save him.  Looks pretty cool and got decent reviews.

New Girl:  FOX comedy that premiered on Tuesday night at 9pm.  Stars Zooey Deschanel (the girl from "Elf") who moves in with 3 guys after a bad breakup.  Critics seem to love it, and it opened with huge ratings.  But I thought it was just "eh."  Admittedly, I'm not a big standard sit-com guy.  But I'll give it another episode or two.

Pan Am:  Debuts Sunday at 10pm on ABC.  Period drama about the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly.  I'll give it an episode or two - lots of buzz surrounding it.  But I fear it'll be Grey's Anatomy in the sky.

Homeland:  Debuts October 2nd on Showtime.  Centers on Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, who returns home eight years after going missing in Iraq, and Carrie Anderson, a driven (and possibly unstable) CIA officer who suspects he might be plotting a terrorist attack on America.  I saw the pilot episode of this show, and it was pretty awesome.  Definitely the show I'm most pumped for this year. 

There are others I'll be watching, and if I think they are good enough to put into the rotation, I'll probably blog about them.  For now, make sure you are watching (or start watching) the following returning (or currently airing) shows:  Breaking Bad on AMC (best show on TV), Boardwalk Empire (HBO - 2nd season premiere this Sunday), Community/Parks and Recreation/The Office (all return to NBC Thursday).  For my money, Breaking Bad is the best TV drama currently on TV and Parks and Recreation is the best network comedy.  Yes, better than Modern Family.  And definitely better than a post-Steve Carell "The Office."