There have been some wild finishes in the Major Leagues the last few years, but I am not sure I ever remember anything as wild and wacky as the ascent of the Cardinals and Rays into the postseason.
True, a few years back the Red Sox were down to their last outs and a couple of games down when they resurrected themselves and ran the table on all.
Just a couple of years ago, the Twins and Tigers tied on the last day of the year--the day that arguably should have forced a one-day playoff this year between the Red Sox and Tampa, and the Braves and the Cardinals--and the Twins triumphed for a day only to fall to the Yankees.
Last year, it took pretty much to the last day of the season for the Giants to make it to the postseason in what proved to truly be a magical year for the team, and the entire area.
So, I do get a bit conflicted, for the one-day playoff stretches things as long as possible, while the resolution on the final day of the season has a sort of orderliness that fits in the scheme of baseball and results for me.
But, never do I remember a couple of teams, first being back in the standings, then working their way back, and then seemingly running out of gas the final day only to come racing back. Boston actually held a 3-2 lead in the ninth when Jonathan Papelbon melted down, while the Yanks were pounding the Rays 7-0 in the eighth before they abdicated the game (in 13 innings, no less).
True to their Boston roots, the Braves were also ahead 3-2 in the ninth before they dialed it in or home or wherever it was they chose to go at a crucial time, leaving only the Cardinals with any kind of clear sailing on the last day of the year. Not like the team had an easy path getting to that point.
And truly, never do I remember such wonderful goofiness on the final day.
Truth is I actually thought the Braves were the team to beat, but, well, if they are it will have to wait till next year.
And, though I don't really think the Cardinals can go the distance, neither was I sure the Giants would last year.
I do think as good as the Phillies are, at this point they might be be the sum of their parts, and despite their success, I have a hard time believing the Diamondbacks are as good as they might well be.
But, the Brewers are interesting. The Tigers have Justin Verlander. And, the Rangers are, if nothing else due. Not to mention this year I can root for Ron Washington and his team without guilt, which is always a nice thing.
Of course, the Yankees are always to be taken seriously, but I am not sure if their pitching will hold out at crunch time: that is, if Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are their most dependable starters now, well, it becomes rhetorical.
And, the Rays, I fear are good, but might be in a similar boat to the Cardinals.
If I had to pick who I want to see in the Series, I would go Texas and the Brewers, although I have to imagine Wall Street and commercial television would root for at least one big market team to make the finals.
If, however, game 162 proved anything to us, it is that anything can happen and it ain't over till it's over.
And that is what makes baseball so wonderful.