October 9, 2011
When you look at the four remaining teams in the Major League Baseball playoffs, are you happy? Are you sad? Do you even care?
My guess is that you fall into the "sad" or "don't care" categories.That's because the one team that would have held our interest -- the New York Yankees -- are out after falling to the Detroit Tigers 3-2 in the decisive Game 5 showdown Thursday in the Bronx.
The Yankees are that one team that produces one of two reactions: Either you love them, or you hate them with a passion that burns like 1,000 suns. Nobody that lives in the Capital District is indifferent to them. So when they are involved in the playoffs (which they have been almost every year since 1995), we watch with keen interest.
The catch is once the Yanks are eliminated (which they have been almost every year since 2000), we tend to stop caring. That is, unless the Boston Red Sox are somehow involved. Then we still care until the Red Sox are eliminated, at which point we stop caring.
It's not that the four teams that are left -- Detroit, Texas, St. Louis and Milwaukee -- are boring. Heck, I think Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan is a good player with a colorful personality who just needs to be a little more careful around live microphones. And who wouldn't pay good money to watch Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander mow down batter after batter? Honestly, I think Verlander is half man, half strikeout machine.
But to many baseball fans around here, there is nothing about these four teams to make us root for or against any of them. We're not going to be elated if Texas wins the World Series, nor are we going to be angry. We'll just note that the Rangers won the championship and move on to bigger and more pressing issues such as will CC Sabathia opt out of his Yankees contract, and is Theo Epstein going to leave Boston for a job as the Chicago Cubs' president and general manager? (I'd throw in a Mets reference, but every Mets fan knows that the only thing they get to look forward to this off-season is watching shortstop Jose Reyes leave for another team.)
We're not alone in this mess, by the way. Without the Yankees or the Philadelphia Phillies involved in the baseball playoffs, many Northeast sports fans have turned their attention to football and (possibly) hockey. That's just how it works.
So while Texas, Detroit, Milwaukee and St. Louis battle each other for baseball supremacy, sports fans around here will be transfixed on something else.