Marlins 4, Mets 2: There's been a lot of loose talk about this being the second "collapse" in as many years for New York -- I've trafficked in such verbiage myself -- but let's be honest here: The Mets were never more than 3.5 games up in the East, and even that was three weeks ago. The fact that they were even in the Wild Card discussion was due to Milwaukee's near-collapse, so not backing in with that can't be considered some catastrophic choke job by any stretch of the imagination. This was a Mets team that dug itself quite a hole by mid-June, and they deserve an enormous amount of credit for folding when a lot of people thought they would. Jerry Manuel should get some credit for that (and it appears that he is). Carlos Delgado should obviously get some too. Johan Santana should get so much credit that he should be second or third in the Cy Young voting. The Mets simply didn't have a bullpen and were just beaten by a couple of talented teams in Milwaukee and Philly. Those things are just unfortunate facts of life, not character flaws.
White Sox 5, Indians 1: Mark Buehrle (7 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 6K) ensures that Chicago will live to play another day. Two other days they hope. From the Department of the Unnecessary: by going 0 for 4 in a meaningless start in the final game of this already lost season, Travis Hafner sinks below the Mendoza Line.
Twins 6, Royals 0: Ron Gardenhire, on the notion of having to wait around and watch the White Sox-Tigers game later today: "It's up to them. It's all on their shoulders now. I don't have to make a pitching move. I don't have to pinch hit anybody tomorrow. It's all on Ozzie's butt, so go get 'em Ozzie and let's see what happens." I'm no expert, but I think that qualifies as "Minnesota Nice."
Yankees 6, Red Sox 2: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3: A lot of folks have mentioned that it may be important in the minds of Hall of Fame voters for Mussina to win 20 this year simply so that no one can say "well, he never won 20." Well, now he's won 20. And, it seems, he's telling friends that he may retire. It may be a good time to do it, because whereas never having won 20 could have been an irrational liability, winning 20 in his last season may be an irrational asset. Now the writers will credit Mussina with "going out on top" or "going out on his terms" or "saving the best for last" or some such nonsense. All because of one decision.
Giants 3, Dodgers 1: For as much as I've been criticizing the Giants for so openly pimping Lincecum for the Cy Young award, they may very well have done it with this final performance (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 13K). Indeed, if I had a vote I'd probably make Timmy my number one choice (though I could be talked into Santana if you gave me enough wine, and believe that Webb may very well get it anyway). That still doesn't mean they should have been pimping him, mind you.
Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 1: Randy Johnson ends 2008 looking like the Unit of old (CG, 0 ER, 9K). He's six shy of 300, so look for the last hurrah in 2009, at which point he will become the last 300 game winner we'll likely ever see, at least until the next one.
Mariners 4, A's 3: The final failure of Seattle's failed 2008 season was winning this game, thereby ensuring that Washington will get the first pick in next summer's draft. Still, 101 losses is quite an accomplishment, and the Mariners should be quite proud of themselves. As for the A's, breaking their season up as they did -- decent first half, disastrous second half -- made their record (75-86) look far better than it felt.
Angels 7, Rangers 0: 100 wins and a 21-game margin over the Rangers. Those are impressive numbers, but they don't mean squat in a short series, and the Red Sox aren't chopped liver.
Pirates 6, Padres 1: The teams combine to use 13 pitchers via the famous "Let's Make Sure No One Is Injured In This Utterly Meaningless Game" gambit. Amazingly, the Brian Giles-Faces-His-Old-Team storyline didn't pump this game up enough to warrant a national broadcast.
Cardinals 11, Reds 4: St. Louis ends a somewhat disappointing season by watching the playoffs from home despite winning three more games than they did in 2006. This just goes to show you that George Burns was right: Major League Baseball is a hideous bitch-goddess.
Astros 3, Braves 1: In my mind this ranks as the worst year in the 24-season history of my Braves' fandom. Sure, in five of those seasons they lost more than the 90 they lost this year, but losses aren't everything. Between those 90 losses, the terrible luck in close games, the breakdowns of Glavine, Smoltz, and Hudson, and the death of Skip Caray, there weren't any moments of levity to redeem things like there used to be back in the 80s. No lazy weekday evening broadcasts on TBS saved by terrible movie at 10:20. No Andres Thomases for whom to cheer ironically when a hit falls between the second baseman and right fielder. No vague, deluded feeling that we could simply fire the manager or sign a free agent and everything would be bright and new. Save Chipper's brief, somewhat diversionary flirtation with .400, the 2008 Atlanta Braves were simply bleak and depressing from April through September, and I am happy to see the exercise run its course.
Blue Jays 10, Orioles 1: I'm always skeptical when writers talk about guys who play for stats, but then I see Vernon Wells go 4-5 with two homers and five RBI on the season's final day to push his average to exactly .300 and his homers to exactly 20 and his RBI total past 75, and I wonder.
Phillies 8, Nationals 3: Philadelphia and Washington each trotted out American Legion lineups. If they weren't all still hung over from celebrating clinching the division, the 45,000 people in Citizens Bank Park might have thought to ask for their money back.
Rays 8, Tigers 7: So the Tigers limp into the last day of the season as baseball's biggest disappointments and then, when the only thing they have to look forward to is hopping flights back to their respective home towns to fish, hunt, party, swim, or spend time with their wives and kids, they find out that they have to travel to Chicago for a makeup game that will, at best, gain them a tie for last place with the Royals. In light of all of that, do you have any faith whatsoever that Detroit is going to be up for today's game?
And thus endeth And That Happened for 2008. Yes, I'll obviously be posting all through the playoffs, but this early morning dose of analysis (hey -- snark is a kind of analysis) is a decidedly regular season thing. The whole point of it was to (a) touch on games folks probably haven't seen; and (b) force myself to pay attention to box scores and the season's day-to-day rhythms so as not to lose sight of what the baseball season is all about as I look for my next quip, or legal post, or what have you. Upshot: blogging itself is easy, but really knowing and thinking clearly about baseball is hard, and I have come to think of these recaps as training or a daily dose of medicine, even if it tasted pretty good.
That said, no one needs me to make them pay attention to playoff baseball, so the recaps end here. I'll probably liveblog a handful of playoff and World Series games, but by no means all of them. Of course, I hadn't planned on recapping all of the regular season games on any given night either. From my first And That Happened:
I'm not making any promises that it will (a) ever be close to comprehensive; or (b) be up everyday -- weekends are likely to still be mostly dark around here -- but I'm going to give it a whirl for a while.Aside from missing a very small handful of days due to work or whatever, I quickly found myself recapping every Sunday-Thursday game. Obsessions are like that. And while there were some evenings and mornings when I simply didn't want to look at another box score, I couldn't not do it either. From what I've gathered, you folks like these things, and no matter how much sleep I've lost doing them, I think I'm a better writer and blogger for having done them.
They'll be back next season, without question. I hope you will be too.