MLB Playoffs: Finding Even More Religion on the Baseball Diamond

After last night, can we please do forever away with the “Roger Clemens is the greatest pitcher in the history of baseball” talk? After all, the Rocket only managed to last into the third inning, and the Indians were hitting him pretty easily, before leaving the game with an injury.

Gee, a big game, Clemens is really needed in the clutch, and he’s injured. I thought Joe Torre had learned this lesson during Clemens’s first tour of duty in the Bronx. I especially thought Torre would’ve learned his lesson because George Steinbrenner had already made it pretty clear that Torre was going to be fired if the Yankees didn’t advance. Oh, and can we please stop with the “Clemens is going to retire” talk? It’s been the same thing since 2003. Why should this season be any different?

But enough of the Yankees for now. Let’s look at the fun stuff.

It’s going to be a meeting of God’s Team versus the Team of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the right to be the National League's representative in the World Series.

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The D-Backs became the 19th team to sweep an opponent in the Division Series, taking down the Cubs 5-1 on Saturday afternoon. The D-Backs got things off to a good start when rookie Chris Young homered on the very first pitch of the game. The Cubs were stuck playing catch-up from that point on, and they were never able to get there. Just as the Cubs were pretty much stuck playing catch-up to the D-Backs the entire series.

The Arizona’s sweep of the Cubs has hopefully brought some attention to the D-Backs. Though they’re the team of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’m betting many of the voters will pick Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as the NL Manager of the Year. Despite the fact the D-Backs had the best record in the NL despite having one of the worst team batting averages in the majors.

Later Saturday night, the Colorado Rockies got their 17th win in 18 games as they swept the Phillies 2-1 at Coors Field. The Rockies were the 20th team to sweep an opponent in the Division Series. The 2-1 victory was the first Rockies win in which the team scored two or less runs since a victory over the Padres in July 2005.

The numbers involving the Rockies are interesting to look at. They were nine games under .500 on May 12, 2007. And even though the Rockies were the hottest team in baseball at the end of the season, the Rockies still needed a 13-inning 9-8 victory over the Padres in game number 163 to advance to the playoffs as the Wild Card.

The Rockies won the game when pinch hitter Jeff Baker, who had only 144 at-bats during the season, singled up the hole to right field, scoring Garrett Atkins in the eight inning. That was only his 13th RBI of the season.

The NL series, though ready to go now, won’t begin until Thursday night in Phoenix. I haven’t seen any suggested pitching match-ups, but I’m guessing it’s going to Brandon Webb starting for the D-Backs and Jeff Francis going for the Rockies.

Yesterday, the Red Sox became the 21st team to sweep an opponent in the Division Series, beating up on the Angels. This series was pretty much ended on Friday night when the Angels put everything they had into beating the Red Sox, and the game appeared to be heading into extra innings before Manny Ramirez delivered with a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to win that game 6-3. Then, with the series on the line Sunday, Curt Schilling did once again what Roger Clemens has constantly failed to do: deliver in the clutch. It just appeared, watching the game, that the Angels were never in it, that they never thought they could win this game. At least that’s how they appeared to be playing.

The Red Sox are still not sure whom they’ll be playing come Friday, as the Indians failed to make this the first time in Division Series history that all four series ended in sweeps.

The Indians, after a dramatic extra-inning victory in Cleveland on Friday night, had the Yankees on the ropes when Clemens was suddenly injured. The Indians led 3-1 going into the fifth inning when the Yankees broke lose. And frankly, if not for the superb work of rookie Philip Hughes, Joe Torre might be looking for work today.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Yet.

The Indians and Yankees go at it again tonight at Yankee Stadium. Maybe we’ll know then who’ll be taking on the Red Sox come Friday night, though I’m still standing by my prediction that it’s going to be the Indians and Red Sox.

And if you want a reason to pull for the Indians, besides the fact they’re playing the Yankees, then how about this: if the Indians advance to play the Red Sox, you’ll have God’s Team versus the team of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the NL, and you’ll have Jobu’s team versus the team that has the guy who thinks he’s God. What more could you want from the playoffs but a battle of deities? – John Royal

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