Let the ALDS Begin!
Remember the other day when I was so jacked up about all the baseballing happening that I had no idea where to begin? Or how yesterday I excitedly wrote about how the Nationals clawed their way back to win the NLWC? Today is kind of the opposite of that. Not that there wasn’t excitement in the ALWC game last night, but it’s just kind of… meh.
I didn’t have a horse in this race, and didn’t particularly care who was going to
end up getting pummeled by Houston in the ALDS advance to the ALDS, so I was sort of waiting for one of the teams to do something magnificent to make me jump on their bandwagon. The Rays stopped the A’s in their own house, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Oakland rather than elated for the fans of Tampa Bay. Maybe I was thinking of Billy Beane and Moneyball and a sad looking Brad Pitt pretending to be Billy driving off in his truck after losing yet another chance to win the last game of the season. Or maybe I was thinking “I know how you feel, Oakland! My team keeps kept breaking my heart during the post season too!”. (Not this year.. not during Bomba SZN!)
At the same time, I feel sorry for the Rays because it’s often forgotten that their team even exists in the AL East (along with Toronto and Baltimore, who only make headlines for their rookies or their awfulness.) To most of the country, the AL East consists of the Yankees and the Red Sox, along a few teams they use to beat up on to get to the post season. The expanded second Wild Card spot/game was probably created just to ensure that there’d always be a Yankees or Red Sox team playing in October. I mean, how many casual baseball fans knew who Yandy Diaz even was until he hit two bombs to cement the Rays’ place in the postseason bracket? So while Diaz, who’d only played in one game since July 22 due to injury, gave us the only real excitement during an otherwise boring game, I still wasn’t 100% invested in the Rays’ bandwagon.
Then, while I was going through some MLB articles this morning, I found it. Diaz, who defected from Cuba in 2013, and made it to the post season with the Indians last season, was asked if he was nervous about going into the A’s house in front of a sell-out crowd of over 54,000. Unphased, he responded “Really? There was people with guns when I played in Cuba.” And clearly, he really didn’t care, because he opened the game with a home run, and then later hit a second. After the game, he was quoted as saying (in Spanish):
“In Venezuela, if you make an error, maybe somebody would shoot you. Once you’re here, the pressure goes away. Even if there were 100,000 people in the stands, I don’t feel nervous anymore. In Cuba there’s more pressure than here. In Venezuela there’s a lot of pressure too. To me this felt like any other game.’’
I don’t know what it was about that quote that made me start to give a shit about Diaz and the Rays, but it did. Maybe it was a reminder of what most of the players in the big leagues go through to make it onto the roster, and then how tough it is to even make it onto a roster in a game in October. Maybe it was me appreciating his honesty/sarcasm, because I myself am an open, extremely sarcastic book. Or maybe it was his cool confidence showing that this underdog team has some bite and will not be phased by the clearly terrifying road ahead of them to reach the last game of the season. All I know is that I am no longer expecting a full on massacre by the Astros against the Wild Card team, and am now expecting to see some really exciting games over the next few days. So bring on the ALDS! Bring on the NLDS! No more ‘meh’ from this girl, I am all in.