You can talk about A-Rod suddenly becoming Mr. October or Sabathia earning his money or Vladamir Guerrero hitting that single or the Dodgers sweeping the Cardinals. The story of the post season at the end of the division series rounds is the blown saves. We had Joe Nathan serving up a two run homer to A-Rod. We had Ryan Franklin taking one on the chin. We had Jonathan Papelbon blowing his first ever post season game and now we have poor Huston Street who gave up a two run double to Howard and a single to Werth to send the Rockies home for the season.
There has been so much debate on the value of closers. This very space went through the math to prove that starters were more valuable than closers. The value figures prove it. But what all that math fails to take into account is that if your closer doesn't get his job done, then the off season starts earlier than you wanted it to. The Dodgers moved on because Sherrill and Broxton did their jobs and Franklin couldn't. The Yankees moved on because Mariano Rivera is Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan is not. And the Angels move on because Jonathan Papelbon let it get away.
Can there be any worse feeling for fans on the losing side than a game that goes perfectly their way until the final at bat? Can hopes get dashed any deeper or a loss be any more frustrating? Sure, other factors led to all four series wins. The Dodgers out pitched and outhit the Cardinals, whose bats suddenly went to sleep. The Yankees got a little help from Mr. Cuzzi, but it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. The Angels had an easy time of it with Boston's lineup and the Angels' starters, for the most part, were better this series than the Red Sox' starters. And the Phillies are the defending world champions and simply had a better team than the Rockies. But even so, those losses in the last inning kill you.
This Fan would think that a blowout is easier to take. After all, in a blowout, by the fifth inning, the writing is on the wall and the mourning is spread out over four innings before the final out. But in a blown save, the heart is beating and hope is raging right up until the very end only to come crashing down like a Denver lineman on Tom Brady.
And so, after the Rockies, Red Sox, Twins and Cardinals ponder next season and their fans try to think of anything but what could have been, we are left with two very intriguing series between four teams that match up very well against each other. What will be the deciding factors? Can A-Rod continue his hot hitting? Will he need to with all his batting mates? Will the Angels beat the Yankees in a series like they have three times this decade? Will Manny come alive against the Phillies? Can the Phillies get three decent starts from their shaky rotation? Or will it once again come down to closers?
The much-maligned Brad Lidge was 2 for 2 against the Rockies in save opportunities, but he sure didn't look solid. Broxton is in uncharted territory as he has never been under this big a microscope. Rivera is Rivera, but will a walk, a stolen base and another doink hit do him in? The Angels forgot all about K-Rod, but will his replacement be good enough?
It will be interesting to watch. Too bad we have to wait endless days before it all plays out. The Phillies and Dodgers don't start until Thursday and the Yankees and Angels don't start until Friday. Nice going, Bud.
The Fan wishes he had a crystal ball, because there are no clear cut favorites out there. Just four great teams going after each other with perhaps a twist at the end...like a dagger.