As October rears its Jack-O-Lantern Head, we all realize what is coming up right around the bend: baseball playoffs. Yes, those 150+ games your team logged all through the spring and summer? They don't really mean much, not when the playoffs come to town. Hopefully your team won enough of those games to earn a slot amongst the select few who will be shagging flies as the leaves turn. If they didn't, you'll get them next year, you always will. But if they did, it doesn't matter if they won 148 or just a shade over half of them; because all bets are off when it's time to play for keeps.
As always, the Braves are in the playoffs, winning their 14th straight division title. Of course, the Braves are only poking their heads into the party that is the playoffs to say "Hi" before exiting in the second round; they've got a thing that they need to do. And then you've got the Padres, a team that everybody looks at and says, "Really? These guys made the playoffs? But they almost lost more games than they won. Is this a joke? Where's the hidden camera?" Yes, the Padres are in the playoffs, and even they aren't exactly sure why.
The Anaheim Angels At Los Angeles Who Play At Anaheim Despite Stating That They're From Los Angeles clinched their division as well, with Vladimir Guerrero leading the charge. There are a lot of questions surrounding this baseball team. Will the pitching hold up? Can they score the runs when they need to? Why is the Dominican star of the team named Vladimir? But that's the beauty of the playoffs; we always find answers to our questions, except that last one. That just doesn't make any sense.
The White Sox have clinched their division finally, preventing a meltdown that would make Three Mile Island look like a glow stick. Of course, with a playoff spot in possession, NOW they decide to start winning games, shooting down the Cleveland Indians' wild card hopes like it is target practice. And as always, the St. Louis Cardinals cruised into the playoffs. If I'm not mistaken, I believe that they clinched their division sometime in the B.C. period, shortly after the Cenozoic Era. They didn't have a magic number to win the division because they hadn't been invented yet.
Of course, nobody cares about those teams right now, we only care about the spots on the dance card that as of now are still unfilled. As I pen this, the playoff chase has reached epic proportions, with the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies racing for the final spot in the National League. The New York Yankees clinched their division and a playoff spot, preventing George Steinbrenner from biting Joe Torre's ear off, and the Red Sox and Indians are playing to grab that last American League Wild Card.
With that in mind, I desperately need the Indians to grab that final playoff position like the last chicken wing at Kirstie Alley's house. I can't take another year of "Red Sox-Yankees: This Series Is Bigger Than Every Other Series, Ever, Including The One They Had Last Year That We Said Was The Biggest Ever. This One's Bigger." Whenever these two teams meet, it's like the world stops spinning on its axis and the other 28 teams in the Major Leagues just fade into the distance along with everything else. "What's that? A cure for cancer? No time, Jason Giambi is adjusting his cup." "You don't say, we found Osama bin Laden in an Oklahoma Hardee's? Can he hit a slider, because Unfrozen Caveman Johnny Damon can."
I hoped that the Red Sox World Series win last year would blow off some of the hype around this match-up, but it's only exacerbated it. Before, it was Rocky Balboa against Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer capable of killing Carl Weathers with his bare hands. Now the Red Sox have cut the Yankees, and we all can see that they're not a machine, they can be beat! The Red Sox fans are extra excited because they don't want to lose the sweet taste of winning, and the Yankees are pumped because they have something to prove. I can't take these games, and certainly not when there's a trophy at stake.
If the Red Sox manage to get the American League Wild Card, the playoffs become a two team show; every other game is simply a prelude to Yankees-Red Sox, a match-up we'll be lead to believe is bigger than Moses-Egyptians.
By the time you read this, the entire playoff picture will be complete, with the Red Sox or Indians filling in the last spot. Either way, we'll never know why the heck his name is Vladimir.
Peter Schroeder is a senior English major. As for plans after graduation, he's open to suggestions. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.