Oh boy, we're gettin to the quick now. 8 teams remain, including both 1 seeds and a couple of Cinderella stories in the (12) Houston Astros and (14) Baltimore Orioles. The backstopping darlings of the sabersphere (Wieters, Mauer) remain alive, to say nothing of the rangy (7) Mariners squad. SO! What will we see in today's action? Can Wieters and Mauer set the stage for a showdown that will surely be the end of us all? Will the Yankees continue their march of dominance? WE DON'T KNOW. Just kidding. We do. You don't. Yet. Games to 21, 2's and 3's, call own fouls and here...we...go.
Game 1: (1) New York Yankees vs. (5) Minnesota Twins
Players: Andrew Brackman/CC Sabathia vs. Joe Mauer/Pat Neshek
You know, the Yankees are a lot like the San Antonio Spurs in this business. We hope you'll ignore the cross-sport metaphor, considering that this whole thing is, you know, a cross-sport deal. In any event, they've got the David Robinson/Tim Duncan twin towers combo, their navy and white is more or less analogous to the Spurs' black and silver, and a title win by either feels more like a preordained event more than cause for celebration. It's a methodical march for these folks. So but then you can imagine the surprise when Sabathia goes all Tim Duncan and shoots 4-23 in a stunning display of selfishness and ineptitude considering that this is a game to 21. Sorry, boys, but you'll have to do better to beat Joe Mauer (the Kobe Bryant in the Yankees-Spurs analogy). Twins win, 21-17.
Game 2: (14) Baltimore Orioles vs. (7) Seattle Mariners
Players: Matt Wieters/Brian Matusz vs. Franklin Gutierrez/Milton Bradley
It's not too often that a 14/7 matchup features such elite talents. Neither team is to be trifled with, which we know is supposed to be said about all teams, but, well, some teams really suck (hi, KC!). But any team with Matt Wieters is a force, and any team featuring Franklin 'Death to Flying Things Jr.' Gutierrez is going to be a very tough out. So while they're low seeds, this isn't exactly an upset special - and neither team's trademarks of victory are going to work as well here. The chemistry between the Baltimore battery mates is impenetrable to Bradley's mercurial (we're legally required to say that word in any post where Bradley's name appears) nature, but the superb natural talents of Wieters is neutralized somewhat by Gutierrez's superhuman range around the court. The teams duel to an epic standstill - and at 50-50, both teams have had enough. So you know what's coming, of course: a shooting contest to determine the winner (no dunking). But after even that proves ineffective (it went on for hours and, while incredible to watch, also got repetitive), the teams decide that a sudden death point will win. They have a jump ball to determine who gets it first, which the Orioles win. Unfortunately for the Mariners, Bradley then tears an ACL arguing to the referee about the unfairness of the jump ball. Ironically, since we call our own fouls, Bradley was the ref - and, in fact, threw the jump ball in the first place. Poor guy. Orioles win, but we lost track of the score.
Oh, like there was any way we weren't going to have Mauer and Wieters facing off. Come on! Most exciting 5/14 matchup ever? Most exciting 5/14 matchup ever. Bracket time!