MLB Playoffs Recap (Week 1)
The MLB team closest to my heart, the Cubs, were knocked out, in a game that I gave up following after the 12th inning, after I succumbed to sleep - of course, the 13th inning, unluckiest of numbers, was the last! Somehow, life goes on, though, and I take some pride in knowing that Wrigley Field gave the country a one-night sports epic. The winning coach, Bud Black of the Colorado Rockies, agrees: “I think this will go down as a Major League Baseball classic,” he told an Associated Press reporter. Certainly, Black and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon were quite a pair of brains, two sexagenarian veterans of baseball calmly plotting to finish off each other’s teams. In purple and blue caps respectively, they crossed invisible swords (actually, I imagined Maddon with a blue lightsaber) and held many thousands of TV viewers spellbound.
Now I’m trying to reorient myself toward the Red Sox. Because I spent two and a half years in grad school in the Boston area, and a few hundred hours riding the “T” subway/rail system, this seems like a natural fit for me. It so happens that this year, for the first time since 2004, the Red Sox and Yankees are battling it out in a playoff series. Boston’s Puerto Rican manager, Alex Cora, is “confident in his bullpen,” and with batters like J.D. Martinez, who made 130 RBIs (runs batted in) this season, both offense and defense show great promise. (Incidentally, Cora distinguished himself recently by demolishing Trump’s wild claims about the death toll from Hurricane Maria.)
One of the particular joys of baseball is the variety of ways you can measure a team’s, or a player’s, success. I’m not really a stats geek in the mold of Nate Silver, but it gives me some pleasure to pore over the numbers that are compiled anew after every game. For example, though the Rockies beat the Cubs in the aforementioned NL Wild Card Game, the Cubs made no errors while the Rockies made one -- something I chalk up to jet lag on the Rockies’ part.
There is also the brawling aspect of the game, something never far from anyone’s mind when rivalries like the Red Sox - Yankees one are played out. I expect this will not fail to materialize in the coming games, but this is not a major attraction for me. Instead, I am looking forward to quieter moments such as expert pitches from the Red Sox’s Craig Kimbrel, whose stare Wikipedia describes as “intimidating,” but who, to me, is just a cute ginger boy from Alabama.