It is time for fans to give thanks to the Yankees and Red Sox for once again saving the sport of baseball. And give a little love to the Cleveland Indians, too, who did the honorable thing this weekend by losing three consecutive games to the Chicago White Sox to ensure that the deities of baseball could both make the playoffs. The Indians get it. Unlike that stooge, Buck Showalter, who had the audacity to not have the Yankees best interest in mind when he benched three starters against the Angels on Sunday.
Anaheim went on to win its game on Sunday and secured home-field advantage over the Yankees in one of the biggest injustices in baseball since the Black Sox scandal. At least that is what Alex Rodriguez said. You cannot expect the Yankees to go out and earn home-field advantage on their own—especially since the Yankees had to play their 100th grueling game against the Red Sox this season.
It is a shame that Paul Tagliabue is not the commissioner of Major League Baseball because he would not let the insult of the Rangers tinge the Yankees gutty performance this season. Tags would have insisted that the Angels open the series in New York. You could have even hung a couple of Angels banners in the outfield and called it an Angels home game, if you really want to get nitpicky. Or better yet, they could have at least postponed the games for a week to make sure that both the Yankees and Red Sox were well rested. Or better yet, maybe they should have both teams skip the divisional round as to avoid injuries to either team for their inevitable showdown.
This is just the latest in a long-ling of adversity the over-achievers from the Bronx will have to overcome. The tragic blows the Yankees have been dealt this year are almost too numerous to list in this space. From their $100 million free agent acquisitions not performing well or those devious Devil Rays. Oh yes, those sinister Devil Rays always manage to play their best baseball against the Yankees.
The grit and determination of the Yankees, however, is illustrated by the remarkable comeback of Jason Giambi. The slugger faced a mysterious illness and somehow managed to lose 50 pounds during the offseason. Medical experts are unsure how a guy went from having a physique like a WWF Super Star to being gaunt in an instant. Only through a modern miracle could Giambi have gained all of that weight back—and then some—along with all of all of his power, almost overnight. It truly is a testament to hard work and dedication that a guy could weigh 200 pounds and barely get the ball out of the infield in April, could gain 20 pounds and hit homeruns like a video game in July. It truly is a miracle because there is no magic pill that you can take that will increase your power and workout stamina overnight. It just does not exist.
Or look at a guy like David Ortiz. He is the true definition of a baseball player. He has the bulk and the ability to hit the long ball. The homerun is the only thing that matters in baseball. Ortiz is the reason the Red Sox won the most games in the American League. Well, except for the White Sox, Angels, and Yankees. But that is how important Ortiz is. He is such a great hitter, he does not have the time to spend in the field. And do not make him run the bases, either. Baseball should be like softball where a guy can get a courtesy runner. You do not ask a superstar like Ortiz to run the bases. Defense, base running, moving runners over, doing the little things like that, save it for guys like Chone Figgins or Scott Podsednik. And what did their respective teams, the Angels and White Sox, do this year?
The Angels and White Sox have disparaged the spirit of the game with their pitching, defense, and timely hitting. That is not baseball. Baseball is having your team fall behind by a couple of runs and hoping that your $200 million lineup can slug its way to victory. That is baseball. But the Angels and White Sox will never do that. They will try to manufacture a run and win a close game through solid pitching and a bullpen. Who wants to watch something like that?
For the good of the game, the Angels and White Sox should follow the Indians example and just step aside.
At least for the good of the game.