Nervous Ned Yost's orthodoxy limited the Royals to a 3-2 lead that turned into a 7-3 deficit. Bob Melvin wasn't any better, and the A's botched a 7-3 lead with their prized midseason acquisition on the mound. The Royals bunted four times. The A's collided in the outfield.
It was all insane and fun for one night, but neither team looked particularly ready for October, and I like to see good baseball being rewarded when the games matter most. Kansas City and Oakland deserved each other, but now that the Royals will face the Angels, I kinda want the Angels to pants them, when I had no such strong feelings two days ago.
Upon further considerations, I like the Angels more than I thought I did, anyway. I'm still tilting toward the Orioles, but here's the list I came up with to help me decide.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Maybe In The Future Tustin
White Sox ties: Hector Santiago, Gordon Beckham
Reasons to root for: Mike Trout getting the chance to do cool things in October; Santiago is exactly how we left him; Beckham meant well, and it wasn't his fault he played so much; Jered Weaver is a wizard; they have baseball's best record and best run differential, and it's nice when success over 162 games means something.
Reasons to root against: Residual Beckham frustration; Mike Scioscia's Indigestion Face; Rally Monkey; Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts not being as disastrous as they should be.
White Sox ties: Alejandro De Aza
Reasons to root for: Cartoon bird; Camden Yards; haven't won it since 1983; not the Yankees or Red Sox; not the Tigers; De Aza gave a lot to the White Sox and is helping the O's; offense can light it up; Buck Showalter doesn't give many games away; Nelson Cruz screwing up PED narratives.
Reasons to root against: Beat the White Sox en route to winning it all in 1983; Cruz has his own PED narrative; Showalter isn't a lot of fun; lineup can be strikeout-prone, leading to less action.
White Sox ties: Gene Lamont, Omar Vizquel
Reasons to root for: Maybe Mike Ilitch will slash his payroll dramatically if they win it all; haven't won it since 1984; primetime pitchers and hitters; the uniforms; AL Central reputation booster.
Reasons to root against: Familiarity breeds contempt; keep botching opportunities to win it all; early-season hubris; terrible bullpen solidarity; gushing Torii Hunter praise.
Kansas City Royals
White Sox ties: Jason Frasor, Jayson Nix, Scott Downs*
Reasons to root for: First postseason appearance in 29 years; Kauffman Stadium; Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Arthur Bryant's; they can really run; high-octane arms; resilient as hell; AL Central reputation booster.
Reasons to root against: Familiarity breeds contempt; Ned Yost won't let his team play; hyperinefficient offense; hyperinefficient Process; the bunting; the bunting; the bunting; the bunting (one for every sac bunt on Tuesday night).
(*not on wild card roster)