Speaking of, check out this information for more on players reward card. Before I talk hardball, however, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention that the Gopher hoops team picked up another recruit for 2013 in power forward Alex Foster, joining Alvin Ellis as a future Gopher. Foster is a 6-8 skinny kid from Chicago who was thought of as one of the best players in Chicago way back when he was in 8th grade, but who has since tailed off a bit and is ranked by ESPN as a middle-of-the-road 3-star recruit (his other offers were from Tennessee and Nebraska, again according to ESPN). The good news here is that he is super athletic, and with that pedigree (yes back to 8th grade but still) offers considerable upside. Like Ellis he has been a target of the Gophers for quite some time, which means that even if Tubby isn't signing the greatest players he is at least able to get the guys he really wants to sign here. Good, not great, signing, but at least things are moving in the right direction again, not to mention setting up a regular pipeline to Chicago (Ellis is also a Chicago kid) can only be a positive.
Also, quick, the reports on my new favorite Gopher Charles Buggs are in from the "Midnight" Madness scrimmage last Friday and by all accounts HE. IS. AWESOME. Led all scorers with 10 pts on 4-4 shooting including 2-2 from 3 and grabbed 2 rebounds, plus was apparently one of the more impressive dunkers in the dunk contest? Are you kidding me? He's everything I always knew I always wanted. I seriously can't wait. We goin' Sizzla.
Ok, now on to baseball and I'll start with the Wild Card. From day one I was in favor of the change to two wild card teams per league with a 1-game playoff and I'm pretty sure I'm right. I understand the criticisms many people had such as complaining that they were just trying to manufacture drama, that anything random can happen in a 1-game series so it was meaningless, and so on. But the fact is, winning the Wild Card the last few years was basically the same as winning your division. Other than not having home field advantage (and one division winner wouldn't have it anyway) and playing the best team (if that team happened to not be from your division) what was the difference? Basically nil. Now? Winning the Wild Card puts you at a drastic disadvantage compared to a division winner because if you get hit with a bad call (Atlanta) or run into a hot pitcher (Texas) you're done. I think it's awesome and if you don't I hope you get a stomach parasite.
The sucky thing about the Division Series is we lost all the interesting teams. Only Oakland, Baltimore, Cincy, and Washington haven't been regular playoff fixtures in recent times, and all four lost. I was glad, actually, to see Washington get bounced just because their decision to shut down Strasburg irked me so irksomely, but I would have loved to see Baltimore, Cincinnati, and/or Oakland advance just because it's more interesting than watching New York and Detroit again. That being said, how great was it that every single series went the full five games? And it wasn't just that they went down to sudden death, but how it all happened. If even one of these scenarios happened this would have been an awesome round of the playoffs:
- St. Louis falls behind 6-0 in the third inning of Game 5 and are down to their final strike twice before rallying for four in the ninth to win their sixth straight elimination game.
- The underdog Orioles refuse to die and push the hated Yankees to the final game with two games going extra innings (back-to-back 12 and 13 inning affairs) and three total one-run games.
- Oakland scares the crap out of Detroit by winning games 3 & 4 after having been down 2-0, leading to Justin Verlander throwing one of the best games in playoff history (in Oakland no less) to advance the Tigers.
- The Giants lose the first two games at home, then win the next three in Cincinnati to knock out the Reds.
Now I can see this series going one of two ways. The best way would be that Justin Verlander completely shuts them in game 3 in near no-hitter fashion, they continue to desperately scramble at the plate and resort to crazy tactics (such as hit-and-running with Raul Ibanez and his Matthew LeCroy like speed) to try to score any runs at all and they end up getting swept while the world rejoices. Or, because the Yankees are some evil demon and everyone knows that demons are notoriously hard to kill, they will somehow manage to destroy Verlander and end up winning this series in 7 games. I know that would suck, but in another way it would be good to get to root against the Yankees for another series. I'm still rooting for them to get swept here though, because they are dicks.
As for the NL, how freaking sweet must it be to be a Cards fan? All they ever do is win. In 2006 they won just 83 games but played in a crappy division so they won a playoff berth where they managed to beat two superior teams, setting up a World Series against the massively favored Detroit Tigers. Naturally the Cards won by somehow getting the Tigers to make 8 errors in 5 games and holding them to a .199 batting average despite pitching dudes like Anthony Reyes, making them the worst team (record-wise) to ever win a World Series. In 2011 they again made the series against the Rangers after qualifying for the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season and fell behind 3-2 and were twice down to their final strike before rallying to win and then won game 7 to take another World Series. Now they were basically about to be eliminated by the Nationals but somehow turned it around to win that one as well.
I mean, enough is enough, right? Stop rubbing it in, guys. They're like the anti-Twins with their postseason play, not to mention that they lost the best hitter of the last 10 years to free agency, lost their starting first baseman (Lance Berkman) and starting shortstop (Rafael Furcal) to injury, and got just 20 starts from Jaime Garcia and 3 from Chris Carpenter, yet here they are. I like the Giants and all, even without the usual Lincecum, but how can anybody fight that Redbird mojo? It's a true law of nature like water or dinosaurs. Sorry Giants, but you can't fight against dinosaurs.