Major League Baseball got its final-day “bonanza,” which it will use as a selling point whenever they get around to expanding the playoffs for good. While the American League slots had been sorted for a while, the National League had a smorgasbord of teams that got lost on their way to somewhere else and got roped into this timeshare presentation that were either fighting for playoff spots and seeding.
With all the games starting at the same time, what baseball wants you to believe is that it was wild swings of momentum and emotions across the nation. But because they’ve expanded the playoffs to include teams that would normally have been kicked out of the bar long ago for trying to make out with the Golden Tee girl, what they got was a competition to see who could fall down last.
The Brewers were the winners, as they got back into the playoffs when the Giants and Phillies couldn’t manage a win over teams that had nothing to play for, even though the Brewers lost as well. The big chase for the last spots in the postseason was simply who lost best. Catch the fever (not you, Cardinals).
Other than that, the teams that had clinched spots already were waiting to see who would fall where, which didn’t really have much to do with them as they tossed out final lineups made up of people waiting in line at the DMV who were easily distracted by tin foil and thrown into a uniform. The Braves drew the “nightmare” matchup, at least that’s what everyone says, of the Reds, because that means they’ll have to defeat two of starters Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo. But the Braves are forever doomed to fuck up hard in the playoffs anyway, and it won’t have much to do with the Reds.
The Dodgers will get to deal with Craig Counsell’s Wonder Emporium of bullpen usage, though with Corbin Burnes injured and Brandon Woodruff needed Saturday night just to put the Brewers into a position where throwing up on their shoes would be considered victory, the Brew Crew won’t have use of their two best pitchers.
The Phillies had an opening to actually do something someone might notice for the first time in 12 years, but face-planted their nose back into their brain by getting swept by the Rays. The Giants also had their window to usurp the Brewers, but lost four of their last five to teams who were filling out the schedule. Storming down the stretch this was not, so much as the 4th grade play where everyone is the tree and waving to their mom in the back.
In the American League, the AL Central still had order to figure out. The White Sox dropped eight of their last 10 games to allow Cleveland to gain seven games on them in slightly over a week and move into second in the division, fourth in the league. That will draw them to the Yankees at home, whereas the Southside Nine get punted out to Oakland.
Whatever it all was, and we’ll never be sure, MLB will get an absolute festival of playoff games on Tuesday and Wednesday and possibly Thursday, which was the point of all this. Now everyone gets the checks they risked everyone’s health over and the players and owners fought tooth and nail over. America.
LeBron James will get a ghost of Christmas past type thing in the NBA Bubble Finals, as the Miami Heat clinched the East’s spot. They did it by letting the Celtics be the Celtics, where they have this weird thing that everyone says they’re well-coached but sometimes they don’t play like their well-coached but somehow no one thinks that’s the coach’s fault. It’s a tricky web to negotiate but somehow the Celtics press manages it. Funny how Boston observers manage that when the coach is a clean-cut white guy.
While the Cs made this a series in Game 5 by attacking the rim through the Heat’s zone defense, and took a six-point lead in the 4th quarter of this one by doing the same, suddenly the Celtics decided to perform their own version of “STOMP!” using only the basketball and the rim. After taking that six-point lead, Boston only made two field goals from there on out, including clanking 10 of their last 11 attempts from three, which for some reason they kept settling for even after it was obvious none of them could hit a bull in the ass with a banjo.
This was the case for the Celtics for a lot of the last two seasons, where they would look like a well-oiled machine for stretches with various weapons and could count on four or five guys to carry them on any given night as they marched through the East. And then they would spend the next four games looking like eight guys all trying to play the solo from “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” all at the same time at Guitar Center on a Tuesday afternoon.
It certainly made for quite the contrast from Erik Spoelstra’s Heat, who played like they had six or seven guys and moved the ball and locked down defensively whenever they needed it. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro — who resembles the guy everyone knew in high school who would bother you for days about this band you just had to hear that no one had ever heard of that they would change your life, and then it turned out it to be Sublime — were once again the main culprits, though Jimmy Butler will make sure he gets in the way of every microphone and camera as he can.
So LeBron will have to get through his former team and coach to claim title No. 4, and you can be sure that will be played up over the next couple days. Along with Foo Fighters jokes about Herro (feeling very musical this morning).