I was wrong. Wrong about Chone Figgins, whose defense at third has been fantastic. Wrong about Ervin Santana, who’s been a stalwart in the rotation. Wrong about Seattle nipping at our heels until the bitter end. And most significantly, most shockingly, most thankfully, in the midst of a typical hot July run, I was so very wrong about the front office’s unwillingness to deal for a big bat. Hi there, Mark Teixeira.
It is the middle of September now. The playoffs are three weeks away, but the magic number is zero. The division is clinched, earlier than it’s ever been. Everything is different. The first baseman is not rendered to a hospital bed due to the effects of food poisoning. The left fielder’s eye is not infected and swollen shut thanks to something called conjunctivitis. The pop in the lineup is not expected from a guy eight months removed from a fractured leg. The starting center fielder is not so banged up that he is left from the playoff roster altogether. Everything is different.
Everything is the same. Three weeks remain, but it doesn’t matter. I know what awaits. It’s funny how the world works sometimes. There’s a certain poetry to it. Jordan and the Bulls had to get through the Pistons. Manning and the Colts, the Patriots. It’s fate. It’s a rite of passage. It’s torture. The American League East remains up for grabs, but the Tampa Bay Rays will take it. The Angels will face the wild card in the Division Series. And it’s inevitable. I know it already. I can feel it. Boston. Boston. Boston.
Everything is different. The 2008 Angels are by far the best road team in the league. They’re 8-1 against the Red Sox, with John Lackey taking a no-hitter into the 9th at Fenway. Torii Hunter and Mark Teixeira provide Vlad Guerrero with protection he hasn’t enjoyed since the departure of Jose Guillen. The bullpen is stronger, the bench is deeper, and the entire roster will be fresher. Schilling is gone, Manny is in Los Angeles, and Papelbon is no longer invincible. Everything is different.
Boston. The Red Sox. It’s funny how the world works sometimes.