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Why the Playoffs Can Make Even the Worst Months Bearable

After each Ranger game this October, the sports fans of my dental school class usually have something to say to me about the previous night/day’s game.  From bullpen usage to pinch hitters, they typically want to hear what I have to say about the decisions being made on and off the field that affect the Rangers and their bid to follow the Mavs as world champs.  I don’t know what or who the Mavs are, but apparently they won something called the NBA Finals last summer just as baseball season was about to break for All-Star festivities.   If you’ve been reading my stuff on this site for long, you know that October is the worst month at the Baylor College of Dentistry each month.  It is referred to as Black October because it is full of midterm exams, progress exams, presentations, etc.  Nevertheless, for me at least, whatever is happening at school must take a backseat to whatever is happening in baseball.  Two nights ago I had to move my bedroom TV into the living room so I could watch both LCS games and simultaneously study for my pediatrics exam, which I had at 7:40 the following morning.  I surely did quite poorly on the exam, but I also was able to watch two pretty fantastic games.  Perspectives, right?

The baseball fans of my class as well as several faculty members and their baseball-related questions make my experience at dental school much more enjoyable, and, despite the fact that BCD tries so hard to make October suck, this month is still the best month of the year.  2011 is uniquely terrific because such a high percentage of the game’s truly elite hitters and pitchers were/are on playoff teams.  Evan Longoria, David Price, CC, Doc, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Robinson Cano, Tex, Grandelay, Justin Upton, James Shields, and those are just some of the guys who have already been eliminated.  The remaining players and teams are so evenly matched and the games have been so competitive that the baseball world has been collectively drooling since the last week of September.

As we watch the NFL and NBA unions collectively fail their fans and their sports altogether, we baseball fans are reminded this time of year how lucky we are that we have the game that we do.  Honestly, how is the NFL players’ union going to allow for HGH testing?  That league is in very serious danger.  What NFL player isn’t on H?  The kickers?  Maybe.  And the NBA has already cancelled games because of labor disputes.  This might be baseball’s chance to take back what it is rightly due, the hearts of sports fans nationwide.

What we baseball nuts can do for the sport during this month is realize that no matter what is going on in our lives, we must continue to make time for the game.  The people we surround ourselves with on a daily basis must constantly be reminded how awesome the game is and how lucky we are to have a month long holiday where we are encouraged to celebrate it.  So as the World Series approaches and with both LCS’s very evenly matched and close, remember how lucky we are to have a game to follow that provides us thousands of games a year at the highest level to follow and love.  This is the culmination of another terrific year.  Thanks for reading The Sombrero and sticking with us as Arlo worked through whatever malware bullshit was going on here a couple of weeks ago.  Happy October baseball fans!

Golden Sombrero: Cody Ross

Bottom 2: Cody Ross struck out swinging against Cliff Lee

Bottom 4: Ross struck out swinging against Lee

Bottom 7: Ross struck out swinging against Lee

Bottom 9: Ross called out on strikes against Lee

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K, 3 LOB

Notes: On Thursday night Ross fanned against CLee in all four at-bat and became the second player to notch a sombrero in that manner this season.  Even though he may be known around Philly as SORRYDOC, the 2010 NLCS MVP was hardly a threat against Lee.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 85

Golden Sombrero: Michael McKendry

Top 2: Michael McKenry struck out swinging against Cliff Lee

Top 4: McKenry struck out swinging against Lee

Top 7: McKenry called out on strikes against Lee

Top 9: McKenry struck out swinging against Ryan Madson

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K

Notes: Thanks to a decent month of July, McKenry has hit his way into the Pirates’ starting catcher role, and since then has hit just enough to not lose it.  He seems to be good for a bomb or double here and there, kind of like most of the Pittsburgh offense – see: Alvarez, Jones, Overbay, Pearce and Wood. And much like the aforementioned players, McKenry also strikes out a ton; he’s fanned 28 times in 117 at-bats and worked only five walks.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 82

Golden Sombrero: J.P. Arencibia

Bottom 2: J.P. Arencibia struck out swinging against Cliff Lee

Bottom 5: Arencibia struck out swinging Cliff Lee

Bottom 6: Arencibia called out on strikes against Cliff Lee

Bottom 8: Arencibia struck out swinging against Michael Stutes

Final Line: 0-for-4, 4 K

Notes: This biggest question surrounding Arencibia headed into 2011 was whether he could cut down on his strikeouts.  Well, he hasn’t.  Although his power is still there — 24 of his 50 hits have gone for extra bases — the Blue Jay backstop has struck out 66 times in 232 at-bats and currently sports a slash line of .216/.271/.435.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 60

*We are now finally up-to-date with all of the golden sombreros over the last two weeks.

Sunday Night Baseball Liveblog: Phillies vs. Mets