Yes, You Choked; Yes, I’m Still Proud of You

This was the toughest loss I’ve ever had to swallow in baseball; or in sports.

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget this. I’ll never get over it. It will never be easier to accept. It will always sting. It now exists as a spot place-marked forever in my life; an irreversible eternity. Never again in my life will I allow myself to think “hey, we might really have a shot to win the whole damn thing”. Not after this. If this team couldn’t do it, I’ll never be sold again.

The Reds made the kind of history you do not want to make yesterday afternoon in Cincinnati in losing 6-4 to the San Francisco Giants.

Sometimes in loss we learn the most about ourselves.

I have never in my life seen a team scratch, claw, and fight with such life or death desperation as the Reds did after getting down 6-0 yesterday. The image that will forever stick with me yesterday was Ryan Hanigan immediately when Buster Posey connected with his grand slam home run. Don’t watch Latos. Don’t watch the crowd behind him. Don’t look at the hitter or the ball’s flight. Watch Hanigan.

I have never seen a catcher react that way to a ball in play in all my years watching the game. Hanigan turns in immediate pain, anguish, and disgust and swings his arm in angst. He knows when Posey connects that it was the kill shot. The Reds at that moment probably knew they were dead. But like a cowboy in an old Western whose gut-shot, they kept shooting until they drew their last breath.

For instance; when Jay Bruce got down 0-2 in the ninth inning, he decides that even in defeat; he’s going to make the Giants closer earn it.

What ensues after Bruce gets down 0-2 in the last frame of the game and the Reds down to their final two outs of the season, was one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen in watching sports my entire life.

Bruce proceeds to battle Sergio Romo for 12 pitches in total as if he’s battling a damn lion or dragon. He stubbornly fouls off pitch after pitch, laying off many off-speed pitches that have long been to Bruce’s liking. As the at-bat wears onward, you realize Bruce is doing more than just trying to come up with a big swing that will result in a 3-run homer. He’s battling for himself, for his teammates, for all of us fans, and for what might have been his manager’s swansong. I don’t know what Bruce was thinking during the course of that at-bat where the Giants continually stayed away from his big time power to right field. I can only think he knew he owed it to everyone who hadn’t lost hope.

Bruce eventually flies out to right field, and the Reds came up short. But I had chills for much of that at-bat. It was a moment based on sheer will and determination. It was what baseball was all about. One man competing against another, knowing his probable fate but refusing to just roll over and die.

Forever etched in our memories is something different. I will never forget the hurt of this series collapse, but I’ll always know that the team I rooted the hardest for and held the closest to my heart fought like Hell for a different outcome, even when it would have been easiest to quit.

Like often the man who spends his days writing about them and living and dying with them, they just came up tragically short.

2012 BBA Award Voting

It’s always a sad part of the baseball season when it gets down to award voting.

I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and the end of the season awards voting is the blogger’s voice in Major League Baseball awards. Here are the awards we’ll be voting on today:

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the Year)
Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young)
Stan Musial Award (MVP)
Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
National League:
First Place Vote – Davey Johnson (Washington)
Second Place Vote- Dusty Baker (Cincinnati)
Third Place Vote – Mike Matheny (St. Louis)

American League

First Place Vote – Buck Showalter (Baltimore)
Second Place Vote – Bob Melvin (Oaklakd)
Third Place Vote – Joe Girardi (New York)
Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
National League:
First Place Vote – Bryce Harper (Washington)
Second Place Vote – Todd Frazier (Cincinnati)
Third Place Vote – Wade Miley (Arizona)
American League:
First Place Vote – Mike Trout (Anaheim)
Second Place Vote – Yu Darvish (Texas)
Third Place Vote – Jarrod Parker (Oakland)
Goose Gossage Award (Reliever of the year)

National League:
First Place Vote – Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati)
Second Place Vote – Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta)
Third Place Vote – Joel Hanrahan (Pittsburgh)

American League:
First Place Vote – Jim Johnson (Baltimore)
Second Place Vote – Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay)
Third Place Vote – Ernesto Frieri (Anaheim)

Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young):

National League:
First Place Vote – R.A. Dickey (New York Mets)
Second Place Vote – Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati)
Third Place Vote – Gio Gonzalez (Washington)
Fourth Place Vote – Cole Hamels (Philadelphia)
Fifth Place Vote – Matt Cain (San Francisco)
American League:
First Place Vote – David Price (Tampa Bay)
Second Place Vote – Jered Weaver (Anaheim)
Third Place Vote – Justin Verlander (Detroit)
Fourth Place Vote – Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox)
Fifth Place Vote – Jim Johnson (Baltimore)
Stan Musial Award (Most Valuable Player):

National League:
First Place Vote – Buster Posey (San Francisco)
Second Place Vote – Andrew McCutchen
Third Place Vote – Ryan Braun (Milwaukee)
Fourth Place Vote – Jay Bruce (Cincinnati)
Fifth Place Vote – Yadier Molina (St. Louis)
Sixth Place Vote – Mike Stanton (Florida)
Seventh Place Vote – Chase Headley (San Diego)
Eighth Place Vote – Joey Votto (Cincinnati)
Ninth Place Vote – Bryce Harper (Washington)
Tenth Place Vote – David Wright (New York Mets)

American League:
First Place Vote – Mike Trout (Anaheim)
Second Place Vote – Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)
Third Place Vote – Robinson Cano (New York Yankees)
Fourth Place Vote – Adrian Beltre (Texas)
Fifth Place Vote – Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto)
Sixth Place Vote – Josh Hamilton (Texas)
Seventh Place Vote – Joe Mauer (Minnesota)
Eighth Place Vote – Adam Jones (Baltimore)
Ninth Place Vote – Torii Hunter (Anaheim)
Tenth Place Vote – Billy Butler (Kansas City)

Slaying the Giant Once and For All

Cincinnati: All the scores I’ll never settle, all the debts I can’t repay, all my ghosts await me here.

This post was supposed to be about my team and maybe your team and how they were choking it all away. It was supposed to be about how tomorrow I would go into work depressed and worried. And then slumber home to my couch to see the Reds squander away things in historic fashion.

Instead, I’m getting up tomorrow and using the power of my mind to focus on positive thought. The sun will rise tomorrow, and I believe it will shine just a little bit brighter upon the Reds. And I hope this post, more than any I’ve written before brings positive karma from all things and to all things surrounding the Cincinnati Reds.

What works out to be a legacy game for Dusty Baker in a Reds uniform also will work it’s way into the connected career vines of the names that dot this roster. Legacies will gain some of their definition tomorrow. That’s a certainty. And that’s why I have to say I was there at game five in 2012. That’s why I have to see it with my own eyes. It might be to say goodbye and it might be to celebrate it. But I have to finish what I started back on what ended up the most magical Opening Day in Cincinnati that I’ve ever been a part of. I have to see this thing through. It’s the only way.

Too many times in my life I’ve just talked myself out of going for it. I’m going for it tomorrow. Even if it’s by myself. I’ll be in the stands. And I’ll be rooting with everything I have inside me for Dusty and the boys. Because I do love them. Because they are family.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set foot down in the Queen City, and I’ll try to summon the ghosts of many nights and many friends gone by. And I’ll try and reflect on all the intrinsic value that is in that town for me surrounding that team dating back to when I was just a kid listening to 700 while I fell asleep at night. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since I was just a little kid with so many big dreams.

Cain. Latos. For all the marbles. One last time. Someone draws their last breath. On an October 11th day in 2012 at 1300 hours, someone’s fate gets decided forever. I want to say I was part of it, regardless of how the end of the chapter will read.

Get me (us) this game today, and I’ll never speak ill of you again

Mike Leake firmly entrenched himself on my shit list long ago. Mistreatment of the fan base, flippant attitude, and then the whole stealing merchandise from Macy’s incident helped to earn him the coveted spot as my least favorite Cincinnati Red. Not to mention he’s the only pro athlete who has ever actually blocked me on twitter!

But I come offering an olive branch of sorts. I’m willing to forever bury the hatchet. If Mike Leake can just win today’s game–you all have my WORD (strong as an oak) that I’ll never say another bad word about the guy for as long as I live.

Save us from a game five; Mike. Save me from another sleepless night. I need you right now. We all need you. Get this game for us today, and all is forever forgiven old buddy.

Talk Me Down From The Ledge

Last night was as it should have been. Homer Bailey was as dominant as a pitcher has ever been in the postseason.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, last night Homer Bailey became only the fourth pitcher in Major League Postseason history to allow 1 or fewer hits while striking out least 10 batters and throwing at least 7.0 innings…he joins Bal’s Mike Mussina (1997 ALCS vs Cle, 8ip, 1h, 10k), NYY’s Orlando Hernandez (1999 World Series vs Atl, 7ip, 1h, 10k) and NYY’s Roger Clemens (2000 ALCS vs Sea, 9ip, 1h, 15k).

Yet, the Reds drop this one 2-1 in 10 innings in front of the second largest crowd ever on hand at Great American Ballpark. Today, it’s Mike Leake pitching the biggest game of the Reds’ season. Johnny Cueto is done for the NLDS and the NLCS. Just terrific.

If the Reds bats awaken, they’ll move on to the NLCS. If they don’t, we’re going to lose this series in five game in a national embarrassment. If I’m completely honest with everyone that reads this blog; I’m not really satisfied with simply getting to the NLDS and winning a few playoff games. I want this damn series. I don’t care that Johnny Cueto and the team was dealt a really poor hand–and that’s what it was. When Homer Bailey pitches his ass off for you in an effort to keep you free from a lot of headaches, get more than four hits (three of which came in the first inning of the ballgame).

I now have a rotten feeling in my core I can’t seem to shake. That’s my thoughts on this early afternoon of what will be game four of the NLDS between the Giants and the Reds.

Unchartered Territory: Reds win NLDS Game Two, Take 2-0 Series Lead

[NLDS Game Two Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

The Cincinnati Reds are locked in.

That was as good as you can see Bronson Arroyo look. It was his crowning moment in his Reds career. Maybe except for this commercial that I caught last night shortly after Cincinnati grabbed a 1-0 lead on Ryan Ludwick’s solo home run:

The Reds continued to play sound defense and add-on in the top frames until the game was through.

As we sit here on the eve of only the second postseason baseball game in Cincinnati in 17+ years, I hope the Reds realize they haven’t won anything yet. I hope they realize that the journey is still long. Two wins out West is very special, and it’s the hallmark of a team that means business. But the Giants could easily come back and win this series. This was just the first two dominoes that needed to fall in order to do something in this postseason. If the Reds come out flat tomorrow night, things can snowball in a hurry and this can quickly become the worst dogfight they’ve ever been involved in.

If you want my opinion, the Reds get the match-up they need tomorrow night. I don’t want them to face Matt Cain again. And I still think they’re damn lucky to have had such an easy time with Madison Bumgarner (though I’ll say it’s a misconception that I fall victim to in thinking that this roster of Reds struggles against LHP).

Tomorrow around dinner time, the Reds will face Ryan Vogelsong. He’s a good, solid big league starter. But he’s the kind of righty that the Reds should want to advance against in that park. He’s not Matt Cain, and he’s not Bumgarner.

Go ahead and move on in front of your fans on Tuesday night boys, and let the Cardinals and Nationals slug things out for a few more days. I have to admit, I want the Reds to just keep playing at this point. The worst thing that could happen was to give them a day off and a day to even think about what they’re doing. They’re going so good right now that you just hope they can get back out there on a diamond as soon as possible and keep rolling.

Part of how this team has already been able to do what they’re doing is I don’t even think they realize fully what they’re doing. They’re like a fearless teenager who takes a lot of risks because they don’t know how fragile life is at that age; the Reds still don’t grasp how delicate every single moment is in this postseason. And that allows them to be dangerous in this situation.

Tomorrow I’ll come home from work. I’ll slip on the #32 Bruce jersey (he got another big knock last night). I’ll hopefully see my team advance to the NLCS, making the vision I had back in 2010 the night we were eliminated from the NLDS a reality. To this point, I could not be more proud of how they’ve performed. I can’t even believe this is really happening.

To commemorate his first postseason win, a great Bryce Harper read

Thanks to Tyler Moore’s pinch-hit 2-run single late in the game, the Nationals took a 1-0 series advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals. I spent a good part of the evening last night reading Jerry Crasnick’s long story about Harper’s journey through his first big league season. It’s a great read.

“I sit on the aisle and he sits on the aisle on the plane, so I talk to him all the time,” Nationals broadcaster F.P. Santangelo says. “I’m probably as close to him as anybody on the team. The first thing he says on the plane after the game is, ‘I passed the Mick tonight.’ How often do you hear that? I get goosebumps now just saying it. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life: ‘I passed the Mick tonight.’ He said it with respect and reverence and maybe a little bit of astonishment, all wrapped up in one.”

  • Looking back at Bryce Harper’s thrilling rookie season. [ESPN]

Cincinnati Reds win their first postseason game in 17 years

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [ESPN SweetSpot] [HardballTalk] [Lance Mcalister] [The Splash] [Giants Extra]

Someone pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Did my team really just beat Matt Cain on the road out west after losing Johnny Cueto (the ace of the staff) after he recorded just one out? I have to be dreaming. This has happened to me a million times. I wake up, and it all goes away. After all, it has been 6,210 days since the Reds franchise won a postseason game (1995 against the Dodgers for those wondering).

Brandon Phillips was balling out of his mind last night. He got scoring started with a two-run home run to left field. He made a few barehand plays. He made an unreal back up play over at first base on a bunt single that kept the runner on first. He singled home an insurance run. Thank you for playing this way DatDude.

Jay Bruce continued his postseason hitting success.

Matt Cain was cruising through the first four hitters in the Reds lineup when Bruce doubled down the right field line for the Reds first hit. There would be no perfect game in this one against the Reds.

And then there was Bruce’s home run into a spot of AT&T Park where home runs aren’t typically hit:

Not sure I’ve ever gone more nuts when a couple of home runs left the yard than when I did for Phillips and Bruce going deep.

There were just so many efforts that contributed to this game. There was no one story. It was a gritty team effort comprised of Bruce, Phillips, Mat Latos, Sam LeCure (getting five outs as a pinch-hit reliever), and the Reds bullpen working out of tight spots late in the game that had me holding my breath.

The first domino has fallen, and the Reds need just ten more wins to claim a World Series title and six more to reach the fall classic. Last night was another memorable, improbable, and high-character moment from a team that has already provided a full season’s worth of them.

2012 NLDS San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds Preview Post (and Prediction)

A series this important and monumental for my favorite professional sports franchise leaves me struggling to find the words on the eve of it’s beginning.

There isn’t enough I can say about the 2012 Cincinnati Reds or the special place that they hold in my heart. When this season began, I had a vision that this team’s destiny ended up somewhere in the NLCS. I didn’t know what it held from it’s beginning to it’s end, but it’s one of those visions I’ve rarely had in all of my life watching sports. It came to me originally in the 2010 NLDS, it was the 6th or 7th inning. I knew that door was closing. But I knew if I could just live long enough the Reds would be back and they would make a run. I knew 2012 was that year.

This post is more about their opponent that stands in their way. Based on a few factors, the Giants are the toughest opponent that the Reds could have drawn to open up their postseason. After the initial reaction which was fear came some acceptance on my behalf. Then came the simple fact that if this team is going to win the National League pennant, there shouldn’t be any desires for them to dodge anyone. Lay it all on the line and carve out your legacy. Go through an NL West team. Be the team that knocks off the recent World Champions.

I know these guys know what’s at stake; and I know they’re going to fight hard. There are certain things I have gut feelings about in this series. I would bet my life that the Reds don’t get swept. Not this time. I would also wager that the Reds are confident in winning this series. They aren’t scared. They think they’re the NL’s best team. I have a feeling Joey Votto hits two home runs at some point in this series in the same game. If the Reds lose, I predict that Dusty Baker will retire with the looming health problems and tepid contract situation on the forefront.

If the Reds can find a way to get through Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and company; I predict they’ll represent the National League in the World Series. No one else would be a tougher opponent for the Reds. There are no West Coast trips remaining in the rest possible paths to the pennant. This is the biggest obstacle, and the way through it must be passed first.

But there was something else about my vision of the Reds magical run; and I need to mention that they were probably baseball’s best and most balanced team in the 2012 regular season. If it does end here, we’ve been given a great team that I just knew would deliver up to this point.

The other part of the vision that I had–and I don’t know why–was the Reds season ending at the hands of an NL West team. I felt strongly about it.

I love this team and I’m so proud of them. I’ll lose a part of me during this series win or lose. I know they’re going to fight like Hell to advance. I think we’re in for the ride of our lives these next few days, and if the journey doesn’t end prematurely; some doors will open up with illusions we could only dream of behind them.

Enjoy this series Reds fans. When Johnny Cueto throws the first pitch tomorrow evening, it will have been exactly 18 years to the date since the Reds have won a postseason game. Think about that for a moment. It has spanned careers, lifetimes, relationships, hallmark events in your life.

My heart says one thing, while my head as a baseball fan says another. I’m going with what my head tells me on this.

Prediction: San Francisco Giants over Cincinnati Reds in Five Games

Postseason Predictions Begin to File In

ESPN

A total of 28 experts picked the playoffs all the way through.

Here are the number of people who picked the Reds to do the following:

Lose in the first round (out of 28): 15
Win in the first round (out of 28): 13

Lose in the NLCS (out of 13): 4
Win the NLCS (out of 13): 9

Lose in the World Series (out of 9): 5
Win the World Series (out of 9): 4

CBS Sports (Eye on Baseball)

Knobler and Perry pick the Reds to go to the World Series. Perry picks the Reds to win it all.

Jon Heyman picks the Nationals to win the World Series, with Bryce Harper as the MVP.

Ol’ Marge Wants Ya to Pound Those Gays from San Francisco, Sweetie

Oh boys, boys, boys. Oh sweeties. Oh honey pies.

It was quite a summer for this old girl, and it just happens to be Ol’ Marge’s favorite time of the year. I remember our postseason trip out to California back in 1990. I took a trip out to a gorgeous vineyard the day you boys swept the Athletics. Ol’ Marge was in Heaven honeys. I didn’t want to come back. Have you ever had Harlan Estates straight from the bottle baby? I had to have that little weasel John Allen come out and get behind the wheel of Marge’s Cadillac honey, or your owner would have never made it back to Cincinnati for the parade. I called that little kiss ass every name in the book on the ride back. We had to pull over and get smokes at an Indian Reservation honey. Ol’ Marge pissed the seat of her Caddy, sweetie. But that’s not what this story is all about.

This group; you’ve got some magic with you right now sweeties. All of you, you’re just as good of kids as those 1990 Reds who went into the postseason without hitting a lick and took the baseball world by storm honeys. Except for Chapman and his whores. He’s nothing but trouble sweeties. He’ll leave you high and dry when you need him most…. Ol’ Marge doesn’t trust him as far as she can fart honeys. Trust me on him sweetie. Ol’ Marge knows trouble when she smells it. You are who your friends are honey. And his friends are nothing but whores.

Before I get to the point of all this sweetie, run down to the Findlay Market and get Ol’ Marge and Schottzie a few items would ya darling? I need to stock up on those jumbo-sized tampons for the postseason honey, all the stress is making things extra heavy down south baby. And be a real joy baby and get Ol’ Marge a bottle of Old Grand-Dad would ya honey? I want to make sure I’m extra fucked up for when that pissant Stubbs has to hit honeys. Make sure you get Schottzie girl some triple-antibiotic cream sweetie. Schottzie girl has licked her crotch raw with the way you boys have been hitting lately. The stress baby.

The moral of the story sweeties; is that Ol’ Marge has never left you. You’ve got a lot of ghosts watching over you as you enter the postseason. George Steinbrenner is in Hell baby. There’s no watching over the Yankees for him. Every step of the way, Ol’ Marge will be with you boys; just like I was for those magical 1990 Reds. I know in my cruel and callous heart that you boys are going to win the whole thing. And life will have came full circle for so many of my fine fans in the Queen City baby.

If you boys promise to play extra hard, Ol’ Marge is prepared to let all of ya in on a little secret babies. Okay, here goes. Guess what kind of underwear Ol’ Marge is wearing right now babies? You think about it a while while I light up this Lucky Strike non-filterered baby. Don’t think too hard honeys. It was a trick question. Ol’ Marge isn’t wearing panties, and I haven’t since my third divorce sweeties. It’s about comfort you know.

I wish you boys all of the tea in China, even though China is disgusting honeys. You’re going to do it this year! I can feel it! Now reach down and rub Ol’ Schottzie girl down there where it smells funny sweetie. That’s it….. Schottzie girl loves when you rub…..

These Guys are Like Family

I was talking with Mrs. Diamond Hoggers tonight. We were talking about the impending baseball playoffs and the stress I’m feeling about the Reds. She mentioned that as long as her Yankees make the World Series she’ll be happy. And then she quickly had a turn of face.

Like I pointed out in jingoistic fashion, this is really her team. Even if she doesn’t know it. How could you not root for the Reds? She’s practically grown up with these guys. When she married me, she also married Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Homer Bailey, Drew Stubbs, Dusty Baker. These guys have spent more time in our living room than any other male aside from myself the past four or five years. These are the guys that grew up together in the minor leagues hoping to one day have a shot at a run like this.

How could she not pull for the Reds? How could anyone? And with that, she realized what I was saying. She admitted that she would be heartbroken if the day lies ahead that they get eliminated. And what she doesn’t know is she better be ready for my bad behavior; win or lose. Let’s hope it’s only from celebrating victories.

Full preview of the Giants/Reds NLDS to come tomorrow….

Wild Card Friday (& Predictions)

For the first time in the history of this blog (and the sport in general), the postseason kicks off with two Wildcard teams playing a one game play-in the day before the real deal gets going.

National League: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

The last time Fredi Gonzalez was in this situation, he didn’t fare so well. He’s not a good manager, and his immensely talented team has brought him back for a chance at redemption despite his attempts to sabotage them all. It’s a testament to the winning culture in Atlanta, and the fact that they want to send their strong leader Chipper Jones out as he deserves; a winner.

The Cardinals had enough magic last season to last them a lifetime. If you were like us, you waited all season long for a Cardinals run that never really came. We have no doubts that the Cardinals will have some great runs in the future under Mike Matheny, and this season was a nice start to his managerial career. But these Cardinals are not made with the same ingredients that made them great at this time last year. They just aren’t.

They’ve still got the ability to score and knock down fences with the best of them, but there’s some smoke and mirrors within their starting rotation. Adam Wainwright has a lot of mileage on his arm, Chris Carpenter missed most of the season, and the wildcard game starter Kyle Lohse had a career year that seems to be an anomaly more than a constant.

The baseball gods will allow the Braves to extract some sweet revenge on the team that stole their spot like a thief in the night a year ago. Fredi and the Braves will win tomorrow night in Atlanta and give Chipper Jones one final crack at a ring that has eluded him since 1995. The Cardinals season ends tomorrow.

Prediction: Braves over Cardinals

American League: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers

My goodness we love Ron Washington. His speech to his troops before World Series game seven last postseason is the thing that legends are made of. And how about those tricky Orioles? Who in their right mind had Buck Showalter and the Orioles here at this point? No one. Not a damn person outside the Baltimore fan base, and if you try to tell me otherwise you’re lying.

The Orioles have strung together a rag-tag bunch that includes Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Nate McLouth, and Chris Davis. Of course they’ll go to the Hellhouse that is the Ballpark in Arlington, to face all of those terrifying hitters and F-bomb dropping Ron Washington and they’ll start a pitcher (Joe Saunders) who I would consider waiver wire garbage. Were they trolling late-night for catfish the night that they found Saunders? He started seven games for the Orioles this season. They haven’t a season like this since I was still searching for my first kiss. And they’re going to let Joe Saunders decide their season? This is who you throw out there to decide the biggest game this team has played in decades? That’s TV I’ve got to see.

But you know what? The baseball gods are a funny thing.

Here are teams on the opposite side of the spectrum. One team is littered with superstars, while the other just appears littered. The Rangers will throw their high-dollar import special Yu Darvish to oppose Saunders. The Rangers have about as much postseason experience up and down the roster as anyone in the field this year. The Orioles have little to none.

Everyone in the world will pick the Rangers tomorrow night. It would probably make sense to do the same. But something in my gut tells me that this Texas team has learned the just how long and impossible the journey seems. They’re jaded. They dropped the World Series two years ago. Last year they climbed back up that tall hill only to see it slip away in the most gut-wrenching fashion possible in sports. If that wasn’t enough to kill the spirits of this team, getting caught by the Oakland Athletics and losing the division title after leading the way for 99% of the season has destroyed this team’s inner conscious. I’m telling you that they’re mentally cooked.

Look back at the other side now, those tricky Orioles. They don’t know what they’re about to embark upon. They haven’t been here. They can say ‘who gives a shit, the whole damn season has been crazy anyways’. They have been starting Mark Reynolds the last few seasons. What do they care? Here’s a situation where I think lack of experience helps a team. In this one game scenario, they can catch some lightning in a bottle because they aren’t able to fully grasp the moment. All the pressure in the world is on our beloved Ron Washington and his Cocaine Cowboys of the West.

Most of all, in this life when everything seems so certain; it isn’t at all. Go the other way with the pick that everyone will go one way with. When they zig, you zag.

Prediction: Orioles over Rangers