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Postseason Reset

You ever flip around while watching TV and discover some prime time show you’ve always liked is on in syndication five or six times a night and you start getting into it all over again? That’s the postseason to me right now. These games are as much fun as 30 Rock reruns, except I technically haven’t seen them before.

Having expended most of my animosity on the elimination of the Yankees and Phillies from the first round, I find myself with no solid rooting/rooting-against interest during these LCSes. I came into these series favoring the Tigers and the Brewers, yet I’m perfectly all right with the Rangers and Cardinals leading their sets 3-2. Seventh games would be wonderful. Any possible outcome that includes as much baseball as they can fit into their timeslots is acceptable. I don’t think I terribly mind anybody, save for one particular St. Louis catcher on whose head I am still waiting for space junk to fall.

Yadier Molina’s continued presence among the earthly aside, it’s simply fulfilling to have the grand old game infiltrating my media receptors every time I turn around. At least twice during the ALCS, I had to be reminded there was a game in progress. That’s made the Tigers and Rangers a pleasant surprise to behold. I’ve followed most of their scintillating action on radio, albeit with one ear’s attention. What I’m missing in detail and nuance — Cruz has how many homers now? — I’m enjoying via spontaneity. When I overheard something about a ball hitting the third base bag [1] the other day while I was doing something else, well, gosh, that sounded intriguing. What’s that? Tigers won? Longer series? Swell! Bet I remember to tune in for the first pitch tonight.

I’ve attempted to be a little more engaged in my native League Championship Series, but it took me until Game Five [2] to feel truly drawn in. As much I detest the Cardinals for crimes historic and imagined, I’m beginning to detect a little transitory red in my blood for them…and I surely didn’t see that coming. Part of it is disappointment in the shoddy workmanship of the Brewers, who probably should have shut the fudge [3] up after escaping the Diamondbacks (though then they wouldn’t have been the Brewers), but more of it is a grudging admiration that the Cardinals are still playing, let alone managing to win.

Which is, I guess, what Tony La Russa does as well as anybody in the sport — which sucks, because who wants to watch Tony La Russa manage or win? Nevertheless, the real battle in this series as it heads back to Miller Park doesn’t seem like Cardinals vs. Brewers. Rather it’s the chances that the Cardinals’ bullpen arms don’t fall off from intense overuse versus La Russa’s apparent determination to rip them from their sockets. No St. Louis starter has gone more than five innings in the first five games, yet St. Louis is one win from another World Series.

Can that algorithm hold? Isn’t this supposed to be the time of the season when stud pitchers step up and give you seven or eight or nine? Or is that Verlanderian ideal overblown in the wake of the Four Aces from Philadelphia presumably sitting and stewing as their yachts float down the Schuylkill? Does Shawn Marcum have to materially outpitch Edwin Jackson tomorrow, or will Fielder and Braun simply slug away the Brew Crew’s problems long enough for Gallardo and Carpenter to match up the way each matched up, respectively, against Kennedy and Halladay on the electric Friday night that got their teams into this series to begin with?

Notice it’s all compelling questions and no definitive answers. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps you watching a show you can’t help but get hooked on.

And back from when our rooting interests were crystal clear, Mark Simon takes us back [4] to perhaps the greatest baseball game ever played, Game Six of the 1986 NLCS, which sprawled out before us 25 years ago today.