I don't know if this has been the case for many of you, but watching the ALCS this year has just felt very, very strange. It's eerie how familiar this seems to feel to me.
There's a team from the East Coast playing a team from the virtual Midwest. The East Coast team has been pretty dominant most of the season, led by a galaxy of stars, while the Midwest team featured some emerging talents, and pecked and clawed their way to the playoffs. Both teams won the Division series, with the East Coast team dominantly sweeping their way to the Championship Series. In the Championship Series, most onlookers seem to think the East Coast team, with their sluggers and pitching, will romp to the World Series, and Game 1 seems to prove just that. But then, all of a sudden, that Midwest team starts to get plucky, and chippy, and they rally and come back to win Game 2 late, to even the series as they head to their home park, where their stadium is packed with raucous fans waving rally towels, screaming and yelling and being heard. And in Game 3, a completely unheralded pitcher for the Midwest team shuts down the East Coast team. The East Coast team looks baffled, tired and out of sorts.
Is this familiar to anyone?
Now, I don't have any vested rooting interest in the ALCS (although as I have mentioned, my loyalties lie with the Tribe), but watching the first 3 games of this series, and even several aspects of Game 4 on Tuesday night made me feel like I was watching a shot for shot remake of the 2006 NLCS, making me harken back to a week where I wasn't sleeping, barely eating, and a giant ball of nerves, until the bitter end, on a night which resulted in myself, the Artist Formerly Known as El Guapo and SVB sitting in a bar, drunk out of our minds and unable to form words in English.
Now, I feel like I'm watching the same thing unfold with the Red Sox and the Indians. All of a sudden, So Taguchi is replaced by Franklin Gutierrez. David Eckstein is replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera. Billy Wagner is replaced by Eric Gagne. At some point during Game 3, I completely expected to see a close up of Jake Westbrook breaking into a Tourettes fit of facial twitches. Jacobs Field was a sea of bright red and white towels for the past two nights, and I'm sure it will be the same again tonight. It's just too bad I wasn't on an ill-fated date during Game 2, or else this would be too ridiculous to believe. I know the Sox didn't rally back to win Game 4 behind an unlikely starter, but Jon Lester pitched well enough in relief of Wakefield that even Bill Simmons is clamoring for him to take the ball should there be a Game 7...The young, unproven left hander in a big spot.
I feel Simmons' pain right now, because I think I was going through the same thing last year. This sick, sinking feeling of "How the hell are we losing to this team? This isn't supposed to be happening!" or praying for hits in the first inning, just to get a lead and release some of the tension. I think there's a lot of Baseball left in this series, though. The way it's played out so far, there has to be. It's been too weird to just end in a wipeout.