Major League Baseball began it’s playoff key party yesterday, with all the American League wild-card series kicking off. And while this season has been weird/a farce/an abomination to the sport and really all logic (if you lean that way), there was something exciting about having a day full of baseball with stakes. Even if those stakes were completely manufactured. So perhaps it was comforting that even in this new, ridiculous set-up and after a completely foreign season, there were old stand-bys to welcome us in like your favorite recliner.
The Twins and A’s each played a playoff game with their shoes tied together.
The Twins started it all, and they had a real chance to actually make a dent in the Astros path. They even had most of the nation on their side, as laughing at the Astros’ sudden and “surprising” inability to hit the ball all season needed to be completed with them falling on their face in the playoffs. The playoffs that they couldn’t even manage a .500 record to qualify for. It was all there for the Twinkies.
The Twins had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning, and could have blown it open right there. Perhaps the Astros would just want this walk of shame to be over with an early deficit. Perhaps being everyone’s figure of fun for months would lessen their desire. But no. Eddie Rosario lined out, and then Miguel Sano couldn’t beat out the dribbler he belched out to third to end the inning.
Despite a Nelson Cruz RBI double in the third, they never much looked like scoring more was in their interest, and gave up the lead in the seventh. And then the Astros painted the wall to look like a tunnel in the 9th, which the Twins, as they always do in the postseason, ran right into it. With two outs and two on, Houston’s George Springer grounded to Jorge Polanco, who treated it with all the urgency of filling out a form at the doctor’s office:
From there, Sergio Romo, a candidate to be the new Wilford Brimley now that the original one is dead, walked in the winning run. Something called Caleb Thielbar, which shockingly is not the name of a character on Temptation Island, completed the coup-de-fuckery by giving up a two-run single to Michael Brantley.
Meanwhile, basically at the same time, the A’s were completely deboned by White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, not even managing a base runner until the 7th. While the A’s were never going to be able to get out of this series without using a left-handed pitcher, their hurry to start one in Jesús Luzardo, in a series so short that you could be done before you get your COVID test back, is curious. The Sox slugged .523 as a team against lefties this season, and the lineup is packed with right-handed thunder.
Not that any of this matters, The Twins and A’s always suffer a case of “rectum cranium” when fall hits, and MLB so far has not allowed them to have a plate glass window inserted into their stomachs so they can see where they’re going. This was the Twins’ 17th consecutive playoff loss. 17! They’ve set the record by four...and counting. It’s been 16 years since the Twins won a playoff game. If you were born the same time that the Twins actually had a handshake line after a playoff game, you can drive now.
The A’s aren’t quite as sad, but they haven’t won a series in 14 years. In fact, the last time either of these teams won a series...was when they played each other. The only time these two can advance is when it’s actually not possible for both of them to lose. Next time someone asks you about the immovable object and irresistible force...here you go.
They’re just wasting our time now. It’s gone beyond comedy or farce or performance art and probably beyond social commentary. The Twins will almost certainly lose today, and that will treat all of us to the Astros claiming to be on a revival tour and how everyone’s out to get them and they use that for motivation when all they’ll have done is not be under the Twins when they fall over like a totem pole. The A’s will probably drag this out to a Game 3, it’s kind of their way, before they manage one hit in Game 3 when Tim Anderson temporarily blacks out for a second.
The idea of the playoffs is that anyone has a chance. This is all based in that it’s OK the regular season has been demeaned, because anyone can get hot for a couple weeks.
But the Twins and A’s can’t. They negate the meaning of all this. Their existence at this time is mere defiance of natural law. Sisyphus at least got the physical activity of rolling that boulder up the hill. Twins and A’s fans have to merely sit still and watch all their players turn inflatable wavy-arm people every year, as that boulder then runs them over and heads back down the hill. They can’t turn away, they can’t stop it, it’s just to be endured.
Stop this madness.