If professional baseball has taught us anything in its 137-year history, it is to expect the unexpected. When the game’s very mantra includes famous quotes such as “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened,” and “I don’t believe what I just saw,” a baseball game truly “…ain’t over till it’s over.” And while the great Vin Scully and Jack Buck said these famous quotes to describe very specific incidents in very noteworthy games (the same incident in the same game, in fact), the truth of the matter is that what Yogi Berra said many years earlier applies to just about every baseball game ever played.
With the advent of 24/7/365 all sports television and radio programs such as ESPN and MLB Network Radio on XM, baseball pretty much never sleeps – not even during the off-season. And while such programming caters to only the most die-hard and passionate of baseball fans, it has given viewers and listeners a tremendous amount of baseball knowledge, especially about specific players and teams other than their own favorite players and teams.
Face it, if you are over 40 years old, you used to get all of your in-depth, out of your own local market baseball information from newspapers or weekly or monthly periodicals such as ‘Baseball Digest’ or ‘The Sporting News’. Even local television and radio news broadcasts would only report the happenings of local teams with a quick run-through of the rest of the scores at the end of their allotted time; but until networks like ESPN and MLB Network Radio came along, you had no idea who the third baseman for the Minnesota Twins was unless they did something incredibly noteworthy or newsworthy.
Like most passionate baseball fans, I eat, sleep and drink baseball and simply cannot get enough of it; which accounts for why I spend anywhere from one to three weeks at spring training every year and why I have been a proud possessor of season tickets at Dodger Stadium for nearly a decade. And when I’m not at spring training or at the Ravine taking in the action, I’m tuned-in to DodgerTalk Radio or MLB Network Radio whenever I’m in my car.
During my six-hour drive over to Camelback Ranch for spring training last season, I was (of course) listening to MLB Network Radio on XM. During one of the programs, I specifically recall one of the show hosts saying that the Oakland Athletics were a complete mess and might not even win 60 games in 2012. And while I was well aware that the A’s were, for the most part, a Triple-A caliber team (having traded away the likes of Gio Gonzalez and the rest of their more talented players to shed or avoid a huge payroll), I was quite surprised to hear this so-called baseball expert (a former general manager – with emphasis on “former”) making such a bold and condescending statement on a nationally broadcast radio show. Here again, if baseball has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected – regardless of how good or bad a team is on paper.
Sure enough, the team that was supposedly a mess and might not even win 60 games ended up winning 94 games and, on the final game of the season, beat the team that was projected to win the World Series by this same baseball analyst, thus winning the American League West title. (By the way, this same baseball expert also proclaimed that Bryce Harper was better than Mike Trout and that Trout would undoubtedly be sent back down to Triple-A within two weeks – wrong again Bucko).
The point to all of this is that we are once again being choked to death by baseball analysts and experts shoving their opinions down our throats that the Houston Astros have absolutely zero chance of being successful in 2013 in their new league and new division – the extremely competitive AL West. And while the Astros are also basically a young, Triple-A caliber team just as the 2012 Oakland A’s were, this is baseball and anything can happen.
Now I’m certainly not going to say that the Astros will win the division or even finish above .500 for that matter, but I’m also not going to say that they won’t. And even though the odds are stacked against them, perhaps even astronomically so, “…it ain’t over till it’s over.”