It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months since pitchers and catchers began reporting to training camps, finally providing those elusive bits of baseball news we”d all craved since both our teams ended their seasons so disappointingly.
Today is now the final day of the regular season. The Sox and Yanks are going to the playoffs, and the Sox are guaranteed home-field advantage through the World Series, assuming they get that far. This is the first time since 1946 the Sox will end the season with the best record in baseball and only the fifth time in 107 seasons (1903, 1912, 1915). As such, the Sox chose which playoff schedule to play. Unsurprisingly, they took the extra off-day, allowing Tim Wakefield to pitch out of the bullpen and giving Josh Beckett and (probably) Curt Schilling two starts if the ALDS foes five games.
The Yankees and Indians will play the shorter series, potentially forcing the use of a fourth starter, but if you think in a 2-1 series the Indians won’t turn to C.C. Sabathia on short rest (ditto the Yanks and Chien-Ming Wang), you’re quite mistaken.
The Angels appear to be the better team to face. Along with having struggled in September, John Lackey/Kelvim Escobar is not nearly as intimidating a tandem as Sabathia/Fausto Carmona — though both should be getting Cy Young votes this season and could easily put the Sox in a hole. Hopefully, the Sox can avoid the strange run of 11 straight playoff losses after winning the division (kind of a silly stat, considering that in 1988, 1990 and 1995 the Sox didn’t even win 90 games while their first-round opponents won 100).
One game left, and it matters not. All eyes not focused on the National League theatrics are already turned to next week.