So here we are: Game 162. It’s amazing that after playing nearly an entire season, we still might not know all the teams heading to the playoffs. What’s even more amazing is that two teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves, have squandered huge Wild Card leads in the month of September, making the possibility that neither one of them will make the postseason very real, and perhaps even likely given their recent tailspins. Mets fans, stop me if this sounds familiar.
Indeed, Mets fans know this feeling all too well. It’s not worth rehashing the details, but lovers of the Blue and Orange remember blowing a large division lead in 2007 and suffering another collapse in 2008, both years being eliminated on the season’s final day. It was agonizing to say the least and watching the disaster unfold was like slow torture, so needless to say I feel better seeing two other teams go through the same thing. Still, out of the goodness of my heart, here are some tips for the Red Sox, the Braves (well, maybe not so much the Braves) and their fans for dealing with this pressure-filled game 162.
Don’t Stay The Course: It’s probably too late for this, but staying the course does not work. If it worked, you wouldn’t be in this mess. Something different has to be done, whether that involves shaking up the lineup every day until something clicks, bringing in a motivational speaker, or even a good old-fashioned manager tirade. It’s impossible to taste that sweet champagne if you never get to uncork the bottle.
The Other Team Has Something To Play For: In terms of the standings, neither the Orioles nor the Phillies have anything to play for. However, that doesn’t mean they will just lie down. I’m sure the O’s would relish in the fact that they were a large factor in ending Boston’s playoff hopes. Likewise, I’m sure the Phillies would enjoy not having to worry about Atlanta in the playoffs. And of course, there is always pride.
Don’t Give Up Seven Runs In the First Inning: Just don’t do it, it’s too hard to come back from.
If You Have The Bases Loaded In the Half Inning After Your Hall Of Fame Starting Pitcher Gave Up Seven Runs, You Should Score More Than Once: You have to chip away somehow.
Beware Of Veteran Starting Pitchers: They may seem like they have the edge, given their experience, but maybe they don’t. The thirty-five year old Tim Hudson goes for the Braves, and he has enjoyed a stellar season, pitching to a 16-10 record with a 3.23 ERA, 1.141 WHIP and 2.80 K/BB. Tom Glavine‘s 2007 for New York wasn’t having quite as good a year, but nobody expected his implosion.
Home Is Not So Sweet?: The Mets lost both of their game 162s at home, so maybe it’s better that the Red Sox are playing on the road. Is there less pressure not in front of the home crowd? Who knows, but it’s something the Braves might have to deal with.
There’s Always Next Year: Unless next year a nearly identical situation befalls the team.
Everyone Is Watching And Some Are Rooting For You To Fail: This is a sad but true fact. Even if you have no allegiances towards the Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals or Phillies (or one of their rivals), there is a natural inclination to root against the team that has blown the large lead. In the Red Sox case, they were penciled in to make the World Series before the year even began, and now are in jeopardy of not making the playoffs at all. With Atlanta, there was never such a hope, but some fans just like seeing teams being knocked off their pedestal. It is sad but true.
Root Hard: This may be the last game played this season for your team, so root and cheer with everything you’ve got. Never take the baseball season for granted.
Tags: 2011 MLB Playoffs AL Wild Card Amazins Atlanta Braves Atlanta Braves Collapse Boston Red Sox Braves Collapse Cardinals Collapse Major League Baseball Playoffs Matt Kaufman Mets MLB MLB Playoffs New York New York Mets New York Yankees NL Wild Card Rays Red Sox Red Sox Collapse Rising Apple St. Louis Cardinals Tampa Bay Rays Wild Card Race