MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COVERAGE AS DRUNK AS YOU >>>
That about does it, folks.
The Tacoma Rainiers (64-69) are nine games behind the PCL Pacific North Division leading Reno Aces with 11 games left to play in the season. I'm going make the call now. The 2011 Rainiers will not be headed to the PCL playoffs this year.
Sure, I run the risk of prematurely preaching the end. This prediction could come back to haunt me. But rather than play it safe and wait for the Aces to lock up the season, I'm going to say it now:
The Rainiers' season will finish on the last day of regular season play Sept, 5. No playoffs for our boys of summer.
It didn't have to turn out like this, either. By Aug. 15, the Rainiers had won three straight and were positioning themselves to take a run at the struggling Aces. But instead of rising to the occasion, the Rainiers flopped and lost eight games in a row, including four in Reno.
Just like an Alex Liddi fly out, the promising Rainiers fell from high in the sky right into the glove of an opposing fielder. Yes, the team played well for a stretch and made a run to the warning track, but it was really nothing more than a long fly-ball out. Now, the once excited Rainier faithful are silent. Matt Tuiasosopo sheds a tear from the dugout. This reporter waxes poetic and the season is coming to an end.
I'm certain the Rainiers Minute will have some end of season coverage in the coming weeks, or at least a celebratory potluck. But for now, let us understand that after 11 more games, the Tacoma Rainiers will be done with baseball - another season in the books.
And it's a damn shame.
-To be fair, the Rainiers weren't blown away in the series against the Aces. The four games in Reno were hard fought, close affairs. The Rainiers lost three of the games by just one run and the other game by two runs. Two of the games ended in walk-off fashion. Do these close games somehow soften the blow? Not really. They only add to the sting.
-The Rainiers' brass seems to have conceded defeat. The Tacoma Rainiers' website features a bunch of "Thank You for the Great Season" type banners. Normally, if a team is going to the playoffs, the team's site features different kinds of banners.
-Speaking of the Rainiers' website, I just came across webisodes called How Cheney Stadium Got its Groove Back. The title of these web shorts is a play on the popular novel and film, How Stella Got her Groove Back. Here's hoping the Rainiers manufacture a How Starting Pitcher Luke French Got his Groove Back web series in 2012.
-I got my groove back on Cheney Stadium's Tasty Terrace. Of course, by "got my groove back," I mean failed miserably at picking up women.
Though the Rainiers may have fallen out of the playoff race, there are still 11 games left in the season. The Rainiers play the Colorado Sky Sox through Sunday before returning to Cheney for the final home stand of the year.
Final home stand. I feel the tears welling up already.
LINK: The "Rainiers Minute" collection