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Puffing in the 2011 Playoffs—Where to Smoke A Cigar in Baseball’s Postseason

Cigar Aficionado's guide to where you can smoke in MLB’s playoff cities.
Alejandro Benes
Posted: September 29, 2011

How does the saying go? “It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.” Well, that’s true, but the other thing is that “every game counts,” even the ones in April. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox each started out 0-6. If Boston had won only one of those... Same goes for the Atlanta Braves who clearly wish all-star catcher Brian McCann had not been injured those couple of weeks. Whatever. The regular season is 162 games. Every team has significant injuries. Win as many as you can, whenever you can.

The Braves were ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race by eight-and-a-half games at the beginning of September. On the last day of the regular season, the Braves lose a heartbreaker to baseball’s best Philadelphia Phillies. St. Louis thumps the league’s worst team, the Houston Astros, and are in the playoffs. The Red Sox were up nine over the Rays for the AL Wild Card spot.

On the last night of the regular season, the tables finished turning. Call them collapses if you like. Everything changed.

The very bad Baltimore Orioles beat the Sox, scoring two in the bottom of the ninth with two out. Tampa Bay went down 7-0 to the Yankees and then scored six in the eighth and pinch-hitter Dan Johnson hit the tying homer in the ninth with two outs and two strikes. Evan Longoria of the Rays then hit a walk-off homer in the 12th. The day before, Tampa had turned a triple play to stay in the game and eventually win.

That’s baseball. Ya gotta play ‘em all.

THE THEME OF MLB 2011

My cousin asked me the other day, before the last day of the season, “What could be done to make baseball games more exciting?” I told him that I don’t think the game needs to go extreme. I do think that, in addition to the Baltimore Orioles returning permanently to the “Happy Bird” logo, a few adjustments are needed. Use the 40-man roster, but make only 25 players eligible at any given game. Too many pitching changes slow things down tremendously.

Just to pick up where I left you at the end of last season, baseball still needs instant replay in a big way. I still believe that would not only improve the accuracy of the calls, but ultimately speed up the game.  Will that make baseball more exciting to the casual fan? Maybe not. I don’t really care. I think baseball appeals to more types of people than does, say, football. I love—love!—baseball. I would happily watch every game of the year in the MLB Fan Cave. My favorite sport to watch, however, is hockey.  

That’s another one that seems a little too complex or inaccessible for many, even though it’s about as fast a sport as you’ll find. Having played both—and basically sucked at both—gives me insights to how difficult playing these sports really can be. And I know that in baseball, there’s always something happening every pitch even if the casual fan can’t see it.

This year, what seemed to be happening on every baseball sports show was a discussion of how to measure player performance. The latest, greatest statistic that baseball’s world of metrics has popularized is “WAR.” The acronym stands for “wins above replacement.”


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Comments   8 comment(s)

David Savona September 29, 2011 4:53pm ET

I like your story, but not your picks. Yanks in five.


Arthur Pappas — MA,  —  September 29, 2011 5:03pm ET

May I also make a shamless plug for Cigar Masters in Worcester MA as a great place to watch a game (even though the Red Sox broke our hearts)?


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 7:49am ET

I'll be watching playoff baseball from the comfort of my own home, with good cigars and scotch on hand, being that my team didn't make it. I really don't care who wins, as long as it's not the Yankees. The only team in professional sports that I loathe more is the Green Bay Packers.


David Savona September 30, 2011 9:43am ET

Funny Arthur, all my friends who are Red Sox fans have shown zero interest in watching the playoffs this year. And Chris, why all the Yankee hatred?


Alex Benes — Newbury Park, CA, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 2:21pm ET

Watching from home is the best, really. I turn my screen towards the porch and look through the glass door. I light a big cigar and pour a huge glass of rum and sit back. It's always good weather here!


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  September 30, 2011 5:58pm ET

David,

I've just never liked the Yankees, and them winninng everything under the sun, going out an dspending money on big-name guys, and having the sports media ramming them down my throat every day gets really old. I know there's a lot of history there, and i can appreciate that, but I just can't stand the Yankees.


David Wisniewski — Pennsauken, NJ, USA,  —  October 1, 2011 8:19pm ET

Total agreement with your view on the Yankees, but I want to see them represent the AL, so, the Phils can put those cry babys and their bandwagon fans in their place, once and for all.


Chris Homan — Coldwater, OH, USA,  —  October 7, 2011 9:10am ET

Ding dong, the Yanks are GONE!!!! :)

Sorry, couldn't resist.


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