Commentary

MLB playoff moments we'd like to see

Updated: October 5, 2010, 3:17 PM ET
By Tim Keown | ESPN.com

Bruce Bochy isn't anybody's idea of a cool dude. Even for a guy in a position of authority, someone paid to keep his opinions private and his emotions under cover, he's a little too monotone and a little too bland to be the guy who fires up the troops for the bayonet charge up the hill.

[+] EnlargeBruce Bochy
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesManager Bruce Bochy had a skip in his step and celebrated with his team after the Giants clinched the NL West.

But there's something about clinching the division on the last day of the season that changes everything. On Sunday, after Bochy's Giants finished off the Padres, they took off on a victory lap around AT&T Park. Bochy was a late arrival, making it look like he wasn't sure he was invited, but once he started he didn't stop. He broke into a jog at one point and actually started jumping up to reach the outstretched hands of the fans in the bleachers. Old catcher's knees be damned.

And with that, Bruce Bochy immediately got a little cooler.

If you were watching, no matter who you were rooting for, you couldn't help but smile. It was one of those moments that define sports, a moment that I guarantee every kid who roots for the Giants will remember into adulthood.

Since this is a team that actually embraced the word "torture" as a slogan for its slow-drip brand of baseball, there's a good chance the victory lap was an expression of relief as much as any other emotion.

Here's hoping for three more weeks filled with those kind of moments.

A playoff list

• A storyline bound to get old fast: Derek Jeter's expiring contract, its impact on the Yankees, their intentions, his intentions, the ghost of Joe DiMaggio, the genetic makeup of a True Yankee, the definition of clutch, the hidden value of a .370 slugging percentage and the importance of his calming, water-trickling-over-rock influence on the rest of the team.

• Since the numbers no longer hold up to scrutiny, here's one statement you'll hear repeatedly about Jeter: "Forget the numbers. All he does is win."

• A question that assumes facts not in evidence: "Can October still belong to Jeter?"

• If you've got time to watch one game in the divisional series, pick this one: Rangers vs. Rays, Game 1, Cliff Lee vs. David Price.

• Unexpected storyline: Two days before the start of the postseason, The New York Times contributed a lengthy diversion on the history and rituals of the on-deck circle.

[+] EnlargeChapman
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireWho doesn't want to see the power of Aroldis Chapman against the power of the Phillies with the game on the line?

• Next week: A three-part series -- "Warning Track: The Prairie Years."

• Biggest home-field advantage: Minnesota, where the Twins' new home will neutralize the Yankees' power.

• Second biggest home-field advantage: New York, where Yankee Stadium will do everything for the Yankees' power that Target Field won't.

• The equalizer: Jim Thome's power in Yankee Stadium.

• Sad, and just a little bit mysterious: The Justin Morneau situation -- out since July 7 and for the entire postseason with postconcussion issues.

• Resurrection: Carl Pavano, the Twins' Game 2 starter. It's a classic revenge setup. Don't doubt for a second that Joe Buck is ready to lay that one on thick.

• Resurrection II: Jonny Gomes, the one guy in the Reds' lineup most likely to stand up to the Phillies' superior pitching and say, "I've got this." Besides, how can you root against a guy who grew up living for long stretches with his mom and his brother in a station wagon?

• Matchups I'd pay to watch: Aroldis Chapman vs. Chase Utley; Chapman vs. Ryan Howard.

• Just for the heck of it: Gene Larkin.

• Best story: Josh Hamilton (and yes, I'm biased).

• Speaking of which: How can self-professed Saber-statniks bang the drum for Felix Hernandez for Cy Young and then pick Robinson Cano (.914 OPS, 6.3 WARP) over Hamilton (1.044, 8.2) for MVP?

• Where Johnny Cueto's playoff share should be deposited: Directly into Jason LaRue's bank account.

• If you're looking for a series filled with subplots and old grudges, root for this one: The Reds (and Dusty Baker) versus the Giants (and the management that showed him the door) in the NLCS.

• Bobby Cox's rightful successor as baseball's resident genial curmudgeon: Ron Gardenhire.

• Gone are the days of Jose Lind and Glenn Hubbard: Among the second basemen in the playoffs are big swingers Cano, Utley, Brandon Phillips and Ian Kinsler.

• Then again: Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson, Sean Rodriguez, Omar Infante.

• And on Friday, ground balls to third base, if fielded cleanly, will not require a throw to first to record an out: In a weird move, the Rays got a rules change for Tropicana Field for the postseason: Any balls that strike the A or B rings of the stadium's highest catwalks, or any of the lights, masts, objects or related riggings, will be considered a dead ball and won't count.

• By the way: It's the right decision, but there's no way major league baseball should be played in a stadium where do-overs are an officially sanctioned resolution.

• And finally, if it wasn't cool 19 years ago, what does that make it now: The Tomahawk Chop, still going strong at the corner of Peachtree and Peachtree, just a block south of Peachtree.

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote Josh Hamilton's autobiography, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back," which is available on Amazon.com. Sound off to Tim here.

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