By Matt Snyder
When Ryan Howard grounded out to end an absolutely brilliant pitchers' duel between Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay, the Phillies were eliminated from the playoffs by the Cardinals. In the bigger picture, all teams in the East divisions were now eliminated -- just as are the top nine payrolls in baseball, according to the figures from the start of 2011.
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We so often hear the lament of the national fans, that they are sick of seeing the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. Well, they're all gone now. Lament no more. We've got Detroit, Texas, Milwaukee and St. Louis represented. It's a great cross-section of what those coastal types might call flyover country. Being an Indiana resident, I think it's pretty cool myself.
Maybe FOX isn't happy that the World Series doesn't have the New York and Philadelphia markets (or Boston ... or Chicago ... or Los Angeles), but pure baseball fans will tune in and enjoy a great product no matter who is playing. We just witnessed four dramatic series, none of which were sweeps and three of which went the absolute distance -- all ending with one-run decisions in Game 5. That's a great product. Period.
Oh, by the way, parity police: The Rangers and Brewers have never won the World Series. The Tigers haven't won it since 1984. The Cardinals have won the World Series one time since 1982.
One could spin this as the playoffs of the underdog, though that wouldn't really be accurate in the cases of at least the Rangers and maybe all four. Maybe it's the playoffs of the less fortunate (or medium fortunate, to be more accurate)? Or the adept spenders? The non-coasters? Whatever it is, it's been extremely entertaining thus far and that doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. Make no mistake about it, these two League Championship Series and the ensuing World Series are absolutely compelling. Stay tuned, it's going to be three total must-watch series. Even if the teams don't play in the largest of markets.
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