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Title: Baseball Playoffs 2011


Yogi - September 29, 2011 08:35 PM (GMT)
I had to start this thread as last night, the final day of the regular season was absolutely incredible, one of the most amazing final days in baseball's long history.

The division titles were already determined but the fourth and final participant (the wild card team, given to the best finisher who did not win one of the three divisions) came down to the final night in both the American and National Leagues. Well, I will let this article more fully explain it all:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=ArMo...ollapses_092811

Bottom line is one month ago it looked virtually certain the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox would be the wild card teams in each league as they had large leads going into the final month of play. But each collapsed while the St Louis Cardinals (the team I support) and Tampa Bay Rays suddenly got hot, so going into the final night of the regular season each league's wild card race was even.

This is what happened,

AMERICAN LEAGUE
QUOTE
Without it, there’d have been nothing like the ninth inning Wednesday night in Baltimore, where Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes) blew a one-run lead, trudged from the mound, sat on the bench as the lowly Orioles dog-piled on the infield, and waited for news from St. Petersburg. The last ball had fallen just out of the reach of left fielder Carl Crawford(notes), just as his entire first season in Boston had.

The Red Sox had led, 3-2. They lost, 4-3.

The dispatch from Tropicana Field arrived three minutes later, when a 12th-inning home run by Evan Longoria(notes) capped not just a month-long haul-down of the Red Sox, but a five-inning demolition of the Yankees, who played mostly kids in what was for them an insignificant game, and then for the first time in nearly six decades lost a game they’d led by seven runs in the seventh inning or later.

The Rays had trailed, 7-0. They won, 8-7.


NATIONAL LEAGUE
QUOTE
The Red Sox would empathize with the Braves, who’d played a 10½-game lead to nothing, then had their closer – the rookie Craig Kimbrel(notes) – blow a ninth-inning lead to the Philadelphia Phillies, the class of the National League.

By the end, the Braves looked less like chokers than they did arm- and leg-weary casualties of the season. But, still, a little like chokers.

The Braves had led, 3-2. They lost, 4-3.

In a clubhouse in Houston, the Cardinals partied. From forever behind the Braves a month ago, from a time when they’d begun the countdown to bid farewell to Albert Pujols(notes) and, perhaps, manager Tony La Russa – the faces of a world championship and a quite reasonable spell of baseball in St. Louis – the Cardinals were headed to the division series.

They’d won, 8-0.


As a Cardinal fan I can honestly say at the start of September I had little hope of the Cards making the playoffs, but thanks to their good play down the stretch and Atlanta's monumental collapse St Louis are in and atlanta are out!

An amazing finish to the regular season and now we head to the playoffs which will look like this:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers
Texas Rangers-Tampa Bay Rays

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Philadelphia Phillies-St Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers-Arizona Diamondbacks

The Yankees and Phillies finished with the best records in their respective leagues and are the favorites to meet in the World Series but baseball has a tendency to spring surprises and after last night do not rule out more to come in this post season.

Rufus T. Firefly - September 29, 2011 09:12 PM (GMT)
Epic collapses by both Atlanta and Boston but especially by the Braves. I think the 1969 Cubs are smiling now, they have been let off the hook!

raconteur - September 29, 2011 10:10 PM (GMT)
QUOTE
As a Cardinal fan I can honestly say at the start of September I had little hope of the Cards making the playoffs, but thanks to their good play down the stretch and Atlanta's monumental collapse St Louis are in and atlanta are out!


I too had little hope for the Cardinals at the start of the month but a big thank you to Atlanta for their choke!

The American League wild card race was incredible last night and I am sure Yankee fans were happy for once that their team blew a 7 run lead in the 8th inning! It was amazing though that not one but two clubs, Atlanta and Boston threw away such big leads in the wild card race.

If the playoffs have even half the drama of the last week of the wild card race then we will have quite a treat.

hobbes - September 30, 2011 09:11 AM (GMT)
Baseball lost me a long time ago. Soccer especially, but also hockey and football just take up too much time in my life. I try to give the Cubs some space, but in years like this it's pretty easy to ignore them.

I generally don't watch the playoffs any more, but I might try to watch the Brewers run this year. Nyjer Morgan (aka Tony Plush) might be my favourite MLB player right now (and the fact he played hockey in my hometown helps) and god love him their closer John Axford played for the Melville Millionaires in our regional summer league. There have been guys who have made the show from the league before, but frankly Axford never looked like one of those guys. Still he likes Cormac McCarthy and foreign films. I'm a fan.

So go Brewers.

I heard tonight on the CBC that a mathematician figured out the odds to blow the lead the Red Sox did and then do it by blowing a lead when you're an out away and with the Rays trailing 7-0 . . . 278,000,000 to 1. The mathematician said it was a rough estimate, but I had weds off and watching live I was pretty sure it was a night unlike any I'd ever see again. With those odds I'm pretty sure I was right.

cheers,
hobbes

Winslow - September 30, 2011 09:52 PM (GMT)
Well, this Bosox fan has seen it before and then some, odds notwithstanding. The main difference this time is no one feels sorry for us. Nor should they.

So the only thing to do now is root against all teams wearing navy-blue pinstripes. Please join me.

Sammy Maudlin - September 30, 2011 10:18 PM (GMT)
I am kinda rooting for St Louis and Detroit to make the World Series. I know the odds are small, although not as small as the ones hobbes provided us, but I always like to see the media darling teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Phillies knocked out. Of course this year we did not need to worry aout the Dodgers, Frank and Jaime McCourt did a good job of wrecking their season on their own!

raconteur - October 7, 2011 09:23 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Sammy Maudlin @ Sep 30 2011, 02:18 PM)
I am kinda rooting for St Louis and Detroit to make the World Series. I know the odds are small, although not as small as the ones hobbes provided us, but I always like to see the media darling teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Phillies knocked out. Of course this year we did not need to worry aout the Dodgers, Frank and Jaime McCourt did a good job of wrecking their season on their own!

What was that we were saying about the Yankees being destined to play the Phillies in the World Series?

Tigers defeat Yankees 3-2 to advance to AL Championship

Meanwhile tonight Philadelphia hosts St Louis in the decisive Game 5 of their series.

In the AL it will be Texas vs Detroit while the NL two series are each going to decisive game 5 tonight.

Yogi - October 8, 2011 04:07 AM (GMT)
Yes, the Cardinals shutout the Phillies 1-0. Great pitching duel between the Cards' Carpenter and the Phillies Halladay, but it was Carpenter winning the duel and the series for the Redbirds!

Milwaukee also defeated Arizona 3-2 to win their series by the same score. So the National League Final will be St Louis vs Milwaukee, a rematch of the 1982 World Series back when Milwaukee was an American League team. If I am not mistaken this will be the first time in modern baseball history that teams which once played in a World Series are meeting for a league championship.

libero - October 8, 2011 04:43 AM (GMT)
Today was a dramatic day of baseball too, almost as much as the final day of the regular season. St Louis' win was incredible over Philadelphia with Carpenter tossing a 3 hitter against the Phillies vaunted attack. Then Milwaukee and Arizona went 10 innings with Milwaukee winning with a game winning hit by Nyjer Morgan (off the greatly named Arizona reliever JJ Putz.)

raconteur - October 8, 2011 07:23 PM (GMT)
Fantastic stuff in both of Friday's decisive game 5. Pitching is what wins out in the playoffs and that is why St Louis and Milwaukee are advancing while Philadelphia and Arizona begin their offseason today.

Yogi - October 17, 2011 10:37 PM (GMT)
St Louis and Texas each won their respective league championship series 4-2. So Wednesday will be Game 1 in St Louis of the 2011 World Series, St Louis vs Texas. :D

libero - October 17, 2011 11:10 PM (GMT)
The Cardinals are on a roll now and teams doing that often have postseason success. But Texas have some excellent hitters and a pretty good pitching staff. Plus they have the experience of last season when they lost the World Series to the Giants.

Some trivia for everyone, former US President George W. Bush once was the owner of the Texas Rangers. He and his ownership group sold their interest to Tom Hicks, the Hicks of Hicks & Gillette fame (or infamy) at Liverpool FC.

Martin - October 18, 2011 01:54 AM (GMT)
QUOTE
Some trivia for everyone, former US President George W. Bush once was the owner of the Texas Rangers. He and his ownership group sold their interest to Tom Hicks, the Hicks of Hicks & Gillette fame (or infamy) at Liverpool FC.


Dubya's ownership of the Texas Rangers was mostly known for his trading away star in the making Sammy Sosa for next to nothing.

Should be a good World Series, I have always been partial to the Cardinals (former Redbirds Bake McBride, Al Hrabosky, Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith are four of my favorite players of all time) so they will have my support and they are as libero points out on a good roll now but Texas does look very good and are without many apparent weaknesses. But the Cardinals do have the bats and pitching to compete with them.

Yogi - October 19, 2011 12:57 AM (GMT)
Texas traded Sosa away before he started hitting the steroids, he used to be a skinny guy then and was just an average player at the time.

In this era of inter league play, this series is a flashback to the old days when World Series opponents had not faced each other. St Louis and Texas have only played one 3 game series back in the 2004 season and both clubs are radically different now. That to me adds some extra interest to this matchup. I think each club matches up pretty similarly, good power hitting on both teams, pretty strong starting rotations and deep bullpens. The one advantage is Texas may have the better closer. On paper at least this looks like an evenly matched series.

raconteur - October 20, 2011 03:56 PM (GMT)
Game 1 to St Louis, 3-2. A tight battle won by a pinch it single by Allen Craig in the 6th inning. Tony LaRussa, St Louis' manager was in his element, making change sin the lineup and pitchers throughout the game and sending Craig to hit for starting pitcher Carpenter, who wa shaving a good game, ended up being the decisive moment of the game.

Looks like this will be a very close series. Game 2 tonight.

autogol - October 21, 2011 03:18 AM (GMT)
Another pitching duel and it looked like St Louis were going to go 2-0 in front as they took a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning. But aggressive base running from Texas' Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, not to mention timely hits by those two, got Texas the win and pinned the loss on St Louis' closer Motte. A 2-1 win for Texas and the series is tied.

Yogi - October 23, 2011 05:04 AM (GMT)
No pitching duel tonight as game 3 which was played in Texas ended with a 16-7 St Louis win. Albert Pujols, whose missed cutoff in the 9th inning allowed Texas eventual game winning runner to move into scoring position more than made up for his fielding mistake tonight. He had 5 hits in 6 at bats, 3 of them home runs and he amassed 6 runs batted in. A colossal night for the slugger and for the Redbirds who are up 2 games to 1 now.

Yogi - October 25, 2011 07:03 PM (GMT)
And St Louis blows leads in games 4 and 5 and Texas took advantage of some Cardinals mistakes as the Rangers now lead the series 3-2.

Last two games will be played in St Louis but the Cardinals need to stop making the mistakes they have committed these last two games, especially in the bullpen.

And as this writer notes, that also includes the club's manager Tony LaRussa.

raconteur - October 28, 2011 05:07 AM (GMT)
My head is still spinning after one of the most incredible games of baseball I have seen in a long, long time. Texas looked like they had the game won, numerous times, they were jumping on St Louis' pitching getting timely hit, the Cardinals were making silly errors in the field and twice Texas were one strike away from winning not only the game but their first World Series. But instead it was the Cardinals fighting back, scoring 2 runs in the 9th inning on a 2 out 2 strike hit by David Freese.

Texas were not deterred and again took a 2 run lead in the 10th. This time it was Lance Berkman of St Louis with the key 2 out, 2 strike hit to tie the game up again at 9-9 and send it to a 11th inning. Texas did not score and local boy Freese hit a home run to straight away center field to win it. A spectacular comeback and now there will be a 7th and decisive game with the winner taking the World Series.

The Rangers have some regrouping to do, twice coming so close to winning it only to see Freese put the game away. You wonder how they will react tomorrow night in the decisive game?

hobbes - October 28, 2011 05:46 AM (GMT)
I have seen three innings of this series and luckily for me they were 9-10-11 tonight.

I've been too busy to watch, but it seems I'm not alone. Despite this being one of the better World Series possibly ever, no one seems to care too much.

I fully expect the Cardinals to win Game 7 comfortably after Texas' inability to close this out, but after tonight I don't really know what to expect any more.

cheers,
hobbes

Sammy Maudlin - October 28, 2011 07:24 PM (GMT)
What a game 6, simply incredible drama.

I too think St Louis are the favorites now but sometimes we do see teams with euphoric wins like St Louis had last night, go into the next game and just be drained emotionally.

Yogi - October 28, 2011 07:53 PM (GMT)
I thought the Cardinals were out of it last night. I am still joyful about last night's win. But as Sammy notes that euphoria sometimes leads to a letdown the next day. Of course as Boston and Bill Buckner can tell you, painful Game 6 losses also can deflate the losers too. Tonight should be fun and very unpredictable.

As a St Louis fan this has been an incredible run, I neevr expected the team to be where they are now, so anything that happens tonight is the team exceeding expectations. having said that, a loss will be heartwrenching! :lol:

Maybe there is not much attention where you are to this series hobbes but with two teams from the center of the nation, each with strong ties through the south, there has been plenty of interest in the US heartland for these games. Let the US east and west coasts cry over the plight of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers and Giants, the Cardinals and Rangers are putting on a great show.

vince stravino - October 28, 2011 09:57 PM (GMT)
Out of dumb luck and fate, that was the first baseball game I watched in at least five years. Even my wife, a sports fan but clueless about baseball, was engrossed. That is the best baseball offers.

Still, I have little interest in watching Game 7. Too many strikes in my lifetime to keep me interested the way I was during the first three decades of my life.

hobbes - October 28, 2011 11:05 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Yogi @ Oct 28 2011, 11:53 AM)
Of course as Boston and Bill Buckner can tell you, painful Game 6 losses also can deflate the losers too. Tonight should be fun and very unpredictable.

Also see the Chicago Cubs circa 1984 and 2003 :(

I was reading that the World Series ratings were a disaster, but it seems that story has a pretty heavy slant. Now that I've actually looked at the ratings, they are (in context) pretty solid. So maybe more people are paying attention than I thought. Last night's game definitely had people huddled around our TV at work from the ninth on.

cheers,
hobbes

libero - October 29, 2011 04:59 PM (GMT)
We are delirious in St Louis after the Cardinals won game 7, 6-2 over Texas. This sums up the improbability a few months ago of St Louis becoming World Series champons,

QUOTE
The St. Louis Cardinals capped a postseason nobody figured they’d be part of by defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2 Friday night in Game 7 of the World Series. The resilient Redbirds couldn’t be vanquished.

In the waning days of August, St. Louis had a 0.2 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, according to AccuScore, a company that calculates probabilities by running thousands of game simulations. Expressed another way, the Cardinals faced 1 in 500 odds.

And that was to make the playoffs. Their chances of winning the World Series were minuscule, like a speck of Midwestern dust somehow reaching Manhattan or Malibu. It might have been the greatest comeback in baseball history.

The Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs the last day of the regular season, earning the wild-card berth primarily because the Atlanta Braves folded down the stretch. Once in, they proved they belonged, beating the Philadelphia Phillies in five division series games and the Milwaukee Brewers in six championship series games.

After falling behind three games to two in the World Series by losing Games 4 and 5 in Arlington, Texas, the Cardinals were on the brink of elimination. Twice in Game 6 they were down to their last strike, only to rally.


http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=sh-h...me_seven_102811

The 11th World Series title for St Louis, 2nd only to the New York Yankees.

As for dramatic Game 6 comebacks and how they effect the outcome of Game 7, this is now 3 out of 4 times since 1975 where the come from behind winner in Game 6 won the series,

QUOTE
This was the fourth unforgettable Game 6 to lead to a Game 7 in recent memory. In two of the others, the crushing Game 6 loss led to a pitiable effort in Game 7, almost as if the players were unable to shake off the disappointment of getting close enough to taste a title only to be thwarted.

2002 Game 6: The Angels scored three in the eighth on Scott Spiezio’s home run and three in the ninth to overcome a 5-0 deficit. An error by left fielder Barry Bonds enabled Garret Anderson(notes) to advance to second, and he scored the winning run on a double by Troy Glaus(notes).

Game 7: The Giants were numb, seemingly beaten before they showed up at the park and the Angels won 4-1.

1986 Game 6: The Mets won with three runs in the bottom of the 10th, immediately after the Red Sox had taken a two-run lead, and the enduring memory is of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner letting a ground ball slip between his legs to allow the winning run to score.

Game 7: The Red Sox took a three-run lead in the second inning but couldn’t sustain the energy, wilting in the last three innings and losing 8-3.

1975 Game 6: One of the most famous images in Series history is of Carlton Fisk willing his fly ball fair as it flew over the left-field wall in the 12th inning to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win over the Reds.

Game 7: The Reds refused to wilt, overcoming a three-run deficit with two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and one in the ninth. Diehard Reds fans remember that Joe Morgan drove in Ken Griffey Sr. with a single in the top of the ninth for the deciding run. Everyone else remembers Fisk’s blast a day earlier.

Martin - October 31, 2011 07:13 PM (GMT)
I was happy too to see St Louis win the World Series. This was as improbable a World Series winner as I can remember in a long time. Not just how far back they were just a month before the end of the season, but once the playoffs began they then had to face the Phillies, a team which looked to be the best in baseball, then after eliminating Philadelphia, St Louis had to beat Milwaukee, a team they finished 6 games back of in the regular season. Finally versus Texas they were twice in game 6, one strike away from losing the World Series. A simply incredible playoff run.

Tony LaRussa is going out on a high, he has decided to retire as St Louis' manager. Can't blame him as he is going out on top. And how do you top this amazing season?

But his departure also makes me think free agent and St Louis star Albert Pujols, likely will be leaving at the end of the season. La Russa realized that and decided to go out on top rather than having to manage a rebuilding team.

raconteur - November 2, 2011 04:14 AM (GMT)
I am just thrilled as a lifelong Cardinals fan to see the team win this title. I have seen the Cards win the World Series before but never with such improbable odds. Some may say the playoff system does not reward regular season play but except for the World Series, the home field advantage is held by the team with the better regular season record. St Louis got hot at the right time and combined good pitching with timely hitting. It would be hard for LaRussa to top this so he is going out on a great note, he has been one of the best managers in baseball for 25+ years and this is a wonderful way for him to end his managerial career.

As for what LaRussa's retirement means for the possibility of re-signing Pujols, well who knows? Pujols has stayed loyal to St Louis and is in a great situation there, he'll be incredibly rich whether he stays or leaves but if he stays in St Louis he will remain a hero. If he goes elsewhere, the pressure to produce will be immediate.

Yogi - November 3, 2011 03:22 AM (GMT)
QUOTE (Martin @ Oct 31 2011, 11:13 AM)
I was happy too to see St Louis win the World Series. This was as improbable a World Series winner as I can remember in a long time. Not just how far back they were just a month before the end of the season, but once the playoffs began they then had to face the Phillies, a team which looked to be the best in baseball, then after eliminating Philadelphia, St Louis had to beat Milwaukee, a team they finished 6 games back of in the regular season. Finally versus Texas they were twice in game 6, one strike away from losing the World Series. A simply incredible playoff run.

Tony LaRussa is going out on a high, he has decided to retire as St Louis' manager. Can't blame him as he is going out on top. And how do you top this amazing season?

But his departure also makes me think free agent and St Louis star Albert Pujols, likely will be leaving at the end of the season. La Russa realized that and decided to go out on top rather than having to manage a rebuilding team.

I am still on Cloud 9 :D

Simply an incredible series and a wonderful conclusion to an amazing but improbable seaosn for St Louis. Yeah, LaRussa is going out on the right note, he could never top this season again. Thanks Tony for all you have brought the Cardinals.

As for what the manager's departure means for Pujols future, I simply do not know. I will say this, nowhere else will Pujols be appreciated like he is in St Louis.

I have followed the ups and downs of this team for 4 decades and this has to rank there as one of the most satisfying moments in my lifetime for St Louis Cardinals fans.

libero - December 9, 2011 07:05 PM (GMT)
Those damn California Angels!

Martin - December 10, 2011 03:47 AM (GMT)
libero, their name changed about 4-5 years ago, they are now the Los Angeles Angels, even though they play in Anaheim about 35 miles from Los Angeles! I am sorry to see Pujols leave St Louis but knew it was inevitable as soon as LaRussa retired. My two favorite baseball teams the Cardinals and Padres each have lost great first baseman in the past year to clubs who can afford to pay them more $. :(

libero - December 11, 2011 08:39 PM (GMT)
Thanks Martin, somehow I had forgotten about that name change. While we are on the subject of baseball, the Florida Marlins are moving to a new stadium in the city of Miami and have changed their name to the Miami Marlins.

As for Pujols, I wish him luck with the Angels but the expectations he will now have with that enormous salary will be stratospheric. We will miss him in St Louis.




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