So the last meaningful out of the Red Sox 2008 season is a pop-up in the fog, two men on board, down by 11 runs. It was a very odd way into regular-season irrelevancy: an atmosphere so soupy, outfielders are missing routing flies; so water-drenched, the very elements are conspiring to keep the ridiculous offensive totals out of the books.
I was going to say I wasn't too bothered by tonight's loss backdooring the Rays into an AL East victory they're probably too tired to celebrate, because I see the Twins lurking at the top of the AL Central, ready to snatch final victory from the failing Pale Sox, and my memory immediately jumps to the Lovecraftian horror that is the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I hate it when the Sox have to travel to Minnesota for games (like Seattle, they always seem to lose there, and lose badly), and if losing the AL East means not having to spend some virtual time in the Twin Cities baseball stadium of choice, it's a trade I'm happy to make. Let the Rays have the title and face the Twinkies.
However, I see I'm wrong on two counts: not only have the Sox done well in Minnesota this year on both sides of the ball, but so have the Rays. Just as importantly, both teams have played well against the alternate victors in Chicago, so unless the Rays go ice cold over the next week or so, don't expect either potential winner of the AL Central crown to make their way past the first round of the playoffs. If we're lucky, we'll face the Rays in the ALCS (actually, if we're really lucky, we'll face the White Sox or the Twins in the ALCS). If not, well...well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, enjoy two days of meaningless baseball and contemplate how you think those first two games in LA will go. Finally: Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays on a stupendous achievement, made even more significant by its accomplishment in baseball's toughest division. You guys are the new terror of the East.