I was all set to deal with a weekend full of football and football related thoughts today. That is until the Braves and Astros decided it would be a good idea to play two full games of baseball yesterday afternoon. I guess that's what I get for deciding to root for the Braves after 20 plus years of out and out hatred of the franchise. I can't imagine how horrible a loss that must be for the eleven real Braves fans out there. Atlanta had that thing wrapped up and was ready to head home for a decisive Game 5 before the bullpen fell apart in the most dramatic fashion possible. It really could not have been more over the top and gut wrenching than it was. It's bad enough blowing a five run lead in the final two innings but to do it by allowing an eighth inning grand slam and a two out, bottom of the ninth homer (to a guy who has hit three jacks all year no less) has to go down as one of the most devastating postseason losses of all time. There's alot of blame to go around for the Bravos in this one. Kyle Farnsworth was awful in relief but he certainly didn't get much help from Chipper Jones, Rafael Furcal, Brian Giles, or Julio Franco in the field, all of whom could've changed the the outcome of the game had they been able to make just one timely defensive play in the late innings. Nevermind the awful job on the basepaths by the seemingly unfallable (up to that point) Jeff Francouer. The only person who escapes any share of the blame in my opinion is Tim Hudson. He made up for a below average Game 1 start by posting a masterful 7 1/3 innings that should've pushed the Astros to the brink of elimination. Instead, he'll be attending Auburn games for the rest of the fall wondering if he'll ever have the breaks go his way in the postseason.
Even worse is that the Astros now come into the NLCS riding a wave of emotion and even deeper belief that they are a team of destiny. I've said here numerous times that I didn't want to see Houston in the NLCS and yesterday's events only served to amplify these feelings. Now we have a matchup looming between a St. Louis bullpen that continues to struggle running up against a lineup that (rightfully) doesn't ever feel like it's out of any game regardless of the circumstances. I'm about twice as worried about this series as I was before yesterday's game (already a pretty healthy amount of fret) with my only solace being that Houston's staff has to be a little worn out from yesterday's action. At least I'm more optimistic than my Dad who put his head in his hands yesterday evening and said, "We're in trouble. I just don't think we can matchup with them in the late innings." Now, I'm a little more optimistic than he is, but you have to understand that the man lives and dies with the Cardinals and is still significantly scarred from a number of postseason experiences over the last twenty years (ie: Don Denkinger's blown call, Clark's injury in '87, Rolen's injury in 2000, etc.) plus he also views Brad Lidge as the Christ incarnate (which he may or may not be). All in all, I'm a bit worried about my productivity (or lack thereof) at work over the next week and a half since there's probably a 5% chance of me getting to bed before midnight on any of the nights of the NLCS what with the way that postseason games drag on into the wee hours these days. Actually, to be honest, I could care less about what (if anything) I do at work over the next month as long as the Cardinals keep giving me a reason to stay up at night cursing the inane observations of Tim McCarver and/or Steve Lyons.
I'll be back a little later on with some random thoughts on a full Saturday and Sunday's worth of football.