There are many things that are certain in the world. The sun sets in the west, water flows downhill to find its level, and birds fly south for the winter. These things just are. There are also a few things that are certain in the baseball world. The teams that score more will win more, everybody will hate the Yankees, ballpark beer is way too expensive, and the A’s will always beat the Mariners.
Last night, I turned off the Mariner game when the score hit 9-3 Oakland, convinced that the world was secure in its routine, and that the M’s would drop their 600th straight game to the A’s this season. I went to bed last night and had a bizarre dream where a friend of mine was a freelance photographer and he hired me to save him seats at stadia where he was working, and in return he let me use his kitchen. Odd.
Anyway, I wake up this morning, and I seem to read that not only did the M’s come back to beat the A’s, they came back against the A’s. And not only that, but one William Paul Bloomquist broke the tie in the 10th with a single that scored Ichiro from second base, thus assuring that Willie Bloomquist’s celebrity status as Gritty Rockstar Superhero Who Just Needs A Chance To Play Every Day is assured. Sigh. Blind squirrels, broken clocks, whatever analogy you want to use, that’s Willie Bloomquist – he’s not all of a sudden some gritty clutch performer. One at bat isn’t even close to being a small sample size. But it’s one of the best USA bats 2021 and he got the win last night, and that’s a good thing.
It’s good for a couple reasons – the M’s finally broke the hoodoo against the A’s for the year, and because it prevented the A’s from celebrating a division championship at Safeco, at least for one more night. I would really like to see the Mariners prevent that entirely, but there’s two more games left against the A’s, and it’s probably too much to ask that the M’s sweep the series. But, with nothing else to play for, why not?
So the AL West is effectively set, even without the A’s officially clinching – it’s the Yankees, Twins, Tigers, and Oakland starting next week. This is a tough call for me – three of the four teams have something to recommend them, as far as postseason bona fides go. I think for me, Detroit gets the nod, solely because they were absolutely ass in 2003 – 43 wins, 119 losses. Eccccchhhhh.
Now, here we are, three short years later, and the Tigers are 94-62 as of today. They’ve struggled a bit lately, they were at one point walking away with the division but now are in a battle with the Twins for the Central title, but damned if that isn’t one of the better turnarounds in baseball, at least in the last 20 years. The Twins themselves went worst-to-first in 1990/91, finishing 7th in the AL West at 74-88 in 1990 and winning the whole thing in 1991, but (fortunately for the Mariners) it’s a loooong way from 74-88 to 43-119.
I’ve always liked the Twins, since the Kirby Puckett years, but this season the Tigers get my AL vote. I won’t be too sad if Oakland makes it to the Series, but, y’know, it’s Oakland, the Atlanta Braves of the AL. They make the first round, and that’s about it. Then there’s the Yankees. Yeah, right. So, go Tigers.
The NL, for me, is more cut and dried. Go Mets. They’re the only lock for the playoffs thus far in the NL – even given that the level of play is less in the NL, there’s something to be said for a good pennant race, and the NL has two of ‘em. After the four-straight-home-run thing, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Dodgers win, but ultimately I’d love to see the Mets get back to the Series. My dream World Series this year, then, is Tigers-Mets, with the Mets winning in seven. Which of course means it’ll be a Yankee-Cardinal world series, with a four-game NYY sweep, but it’s nice to dream.