Sweep Dreams are Made of ThisLast night, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox defeated their opponents to take commanding 2-0 leads in their respective American League Division Series match-ups. Meanwhile over in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies have done the same. All four series are on the verge of ending as sweeps this weekend. What's worse is that the best teams in both the American and National leagues are trailing 0-2. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won 100 games while the Chicago Cubs won 97.
I watch, or listen to, every game of the Major League Baseball playoffs. Despite every series being 2-0, each match-up has been competitive with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cubs. The combined scores for the Rays and Chicago White Sox is 12-6. The Rays scored four runs late in Game 2 to widen the gap, but the White Sox lead 2-1 for most of the game. The Red Sox lead the heavily favored Angels 11-6. The Phillies lead the Milwaukee Brewers 8-3. Finally, the Dodgers lead the Cubs 17-5. Just to add gasoline to the Cubs fire, they made five errors in two games.
I had to take a timeout. I felt nauseous thinking about the bad defense and lack of Cubs offense. Okay, I'm better.
Starting tonight, every series switches venues. The Brewers return to Milwaukee to play the first playoff game in Miller Park history. Last Sunday they celebrated their first playoff berth since 1982 with a combined victory over the Cubs while the Florida Marlins eliminated the New York Mets. The Cubs head to Chavez Ravine to battle the Dodgers high atop the hill, amongst the palm trees, in Dodger Stadium. On Sunday the White Sox return to 35th and Shields for the first postseason game at U.S. Cellular Field since they defeated the Astros in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series. The defending World Series champion Red Sox return to Fenway Park. Will these teams prevent sweeps? Will there be a full schedule of baseball on Sunday? I hope so.
If these series end in sweeps, the League Championship Series will have a decidedly east coast bias. The Dodgers, of course, would be the exception. On a ratings front, that never bodes well. When the midwest market loses a rooting interest, so go the ratings. I was talking with a friend following the White Sox tiebreaker defeat of the Minnesota Twins. We discussed how the story of the Red Sox is losing interest with the mainstream. They captured the imagination of the mainstream, non-baseball fan, audience when they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 to win their first World Series since 1918. Last year, they won their second title in four seasons. The "Curse of the Bambino" is officially over.