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Puffing in the 2012 Baseball Playoffs

Putting a Wrapper on the Season that Was with Our Guide to Smoking in MLB's Playoff Cities
Alejandro Benes
Posted: October 4, 2012

(continued from page 1)

The Dodgers have new owners (about time) and new star players from the Red Sox, Marlins and Phillies. Despite Clayton Kershaw following up his Cy Young year with another superb season, no playoffs for you, boys in blue. Or for the Phillies and Tampa Bay.

Omar Vizquel is retiring after 24 seasons, 11 Gold Gloves and more than 2, 700 hits. Ben Sheets came back to pitch for the Braves, helped them, and now has retired for good after throwing one inning in the year’s final regular season game.

Perhaps the event that stands out among those most worth noticing is that this was the last season to be played by Chipper Jones, the Braves third baseman who will be in the Hall of Fame in five years. Jones is to the Braves what Jeter is to the Yankees. No one ever questioned Jones’s work ethic, effort, desire or talent. (The haircut? That’s another thing.) The Braves, fittingly, are the NL wild card in the playoffs.

Ah, the playoffs. So, in a move that seems to put Major League Baseball on the path to a National Hockey League playoff system in which 16 of the 30 teams make the post-season, baseball added a second wild card qualifier in each league this year. That certainly extended the hopes of fans in cities like Oakland, St. Louis, Anaheim, Tampa-St. Petersburg and even Milwaukee that their teams might sneak in for the right to play one game against the first wild card team to see if they could then ACTUALLY get into a playoff series. The possible permutations this created seemed infinite. One the last Monday of the season, the possibility existed, though it didn’t happen, that three teams in the AL could have ended up with the same records, requiring a two-game play-in to become the second wild card qualifier.

THE PLAYOFFS

Take your pick. The most surprising, successful team of 2012 was:
a. Washington Nationals
b. Oakland A’s
c. Baltimore Orioles

All three of these teams delighted and astounded the baseball world this year, but perhaps none more than the A’s.

The A’s surged in the second half of the year and thumped the Texas Rangers by sweeping them in Oakland the last three games of the season to take the AL west. Since July 1, the A’s went 57-26, for a .687 winning percentage. Fourteen of those wins were walk-offs. The A’s had 119 home runs, second only to the Yankees. Not exactly Moneyball, but definitely money. The Rangers played like it was the sixth game of the 2011 World Series, showing shoddy defense to let the A’s win game 162 by a score of 12-5. The Rangers, who led the division pretty much all year, became a wild card team by losing a one-time 13 game lead.

Maybe the O’s were more stunning. With help from the Yankees, the O’s went into the last three games of the season tied with the Bombers atop the AL East, putting together a winning season and clinching a playoff berth for the first time in 15 years.

No, no, it was the Nats, a perennial loser that ended up clinching the NL East, withstanding a late challenge from the Braves.


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Comments   1 comment(s)

Alejandro Benes — Newbury Park, CA, USA,  —  October 11, 2012 2:44pm ET

As usual, my predictions are working out REALLY well. NOT!


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