Playoff baseball at its best!

800px-A's_celebrate_win_over_Red_Sox_2010-07-21_2Tonight was very entertaining for those who stayed up late and watched some play-off baseball. These games did not disappoint with late inning comebacks and walk-off wins!

The most notable teams in the postseason this year are the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds. The New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants have each won World Series titles in the last three years.

I personally root for the “underdog” in most sports. The Oakland A’s continue to be the definition of that term with a late season push for the play-offs. On June 30th, they were 13 games out of first place in the American League West Division and were predicted to stay there. They proved everyone wrong with an incredible winning streak and eventually won the Division on the last day of the regular season. It was only fitting that they would defeat the team that they were chasing in the standings, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have had one of the most potent offenses all season long with guys such as Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz to name a few.

Why do we love seeing teams like the Oakland Athletics win? Because they have the lowest payroll in the game at $59.5 million. That would be equivalent to Coby outperforming Apple in electronics sales. There are many players who make more per year than entire A’s roster. Although, they have had the same philosophy for years and it can be seen in the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt. They take the “misfit toys” so to speak of Major League Baseball and turn them into run manufacturers. The system works, but has yet to win a World Series. The Athletics last won a title in 1989 thanks to sluggers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

I bet most people had no idea who Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp and Bob Melvin were prior to this season. However, if you pay attention to baseball as much as I do, you would know that Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp both used to play for the Boston Red Sox. I bet the BoSox wish they had those guys now as they both have had career years. Crisp has been bouncing back and forth between the minors and the majors the last few years before being the player of the game the last couple of nights. That’s what makes sports exciting though, on any given night, any team can win.

The last guy I mentioned is manager Bob Melvin, a former big league catcher, which is very common for the manager position these days. The reason for this is that catchers are natural leaders and usually have the highest IQ’s being the “quarterback” on the ball field. Anyways, Melvin has had winning seasons in Seattle and Arizona before managing the A’s. Another player worth mentioning is Yoenis Cespedes who is a rookie this year, but had been a veteran in the professional Cuban league.

Enough about the Cinderella Athletics. The other walk-off win took place in the 12th-inning of the Yankees and Orioles game. It was a game ending home run brought to you by Raul Ibanez. It happened to be his second of the game. His first home run tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. Ibanez pinch hit for the struggling Alex Rodriguez and again, if you pay attention to baseball at all, you would know that the New York Yankees have the highest payroll at nearly $198 million. They have basically dominated the game of baseball and the sports world with 27 championships. The next closest team is the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League with 24.

This is the second time that Raul Ibanez has come through in the clutch for the Yankees this post season with pinch hit home runs. He isn’t even an everyday player on this roster full of All-Stars. Following his heroic efforts, he was of course immediately interviewed and the typical questions were asked and repeated, “What was going through your mind during those at-bats?” and “How do you feel?” Anyone with half a brain could guess that he was just looking to get a base hit, they both happened to be home runs and that he was incredibly happy to help his team win. Being the class act and seasoned 40 year-old veteran that Raul is, he calmly answered the moronic questions from multiple reporters and I couldn’t have been more happy for the guy. He spent many years on horrible teams such as the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals before having success with the Philadelphia Phillies and now the Yankees.

Tomorrow should be another interesting day as the Orioles look to force a game 5 against the Yankees and the Nationals hope to do the same against the Cardinals. The Reds, Giants, Athletics and Tigers are all playing their 5th and final game with winners advancing to the next round.

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