The final night of the 2011 MLB regular season reminded baseball fans why the game was once the American pastime. It was used as a most enjoyable passage of time on the 28th day of September in 2011!
Two teams in each league…tied for the wild card lead. No other teams capable of making a play on the final playoff spots. It came down to a combination of wins and losses that would result in the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox; the St. Louis Cardinals or Atlanta Braves. Or…even a one game playoff to break any ties that resulted from the action on the final game of the season.
Of course three of the four games were nail biters, and two of them needed extra innings to crown a victor.
After all the speculation that there might be 163 games for four of the teams, everything played out and fell toward the hotter teams. Fortunately for both Boston and Atlanta, their September collapses were so similar and shared, that there wasn’t really enough room for both in the spotlight. That having been said, the debate will begin tomorrow: Whose collapse was bigger? All signs point to the Sox.
The spotlight belonged to Tampa’s Evan Longoria. He stole the show with a walk-off home run, three minutes after the Red Sox had been beaten with a walk-off single in which former Tampa Bay Rays All-Star, Carl Crawford couldn’t quite corral a lazy liner to left. He got a bigger paycheck this season, but his former team will continue to chase the pennant, while he goes on vacation.
The Cardinals were dominant, as was predicted. Chris Carpenter took to the hill vs. the MLB’s worst team, and he handed them their 106th loss of the season. The Cards jumped to an early 5-0 lead in the first inning, and with Carpenter hurling in vintage form, the Redbirds only needed 1. A complete game shut out was followed by a viewing of the Phillies defeating the Braves and a Champagne celebration.
The ALDS for the four AL representatives begins on Friday. Tampa will travel to Arlington, TX, to take on the very underrated Texas Rangers. The Detroit Tigers will head to the Bronx to face the New York Yankees.
The NLDS games will follow on Saturday. The Cardinals will travel to Philadelphia to face the best starting rotation in MLB, and the Arizona Diamondbacks will venture to Milwaukee to take on a very potent Brewers squad.
The divisions series match-ups are best of 5 games series. If the playoffs are half as exciting as last night, baseball may reignite the passion of some old fans!