Yeah, the Braves lost. I expected it and even predicted it perfectly: Astros in 4. I guess it's the fact that it took 18 innings that depresses me. As fate would have it, I was not watching. I was at work from 4-9. When I left home, it was 6-1 Braves. McCann had just homered. I was feeling pretty good; the Braves had this one in the bag, and Smoltz at home in Game 5 might actually give them a chance.
I signed up for MLB's postseason game updates via text message to my cell phone. So every once in a while at work, I'd flip out the phone and check for confirmation that the Braves had won. I was waiting quite a while; it usually takes just 15-20 minutes for them to send out the message. I don't always get great reception at work (in the bowels of the museum), so I guessed that was it. At 7:00, I figured the game had been over for three hours, so I must have just missed the message. Then, as I went on break, my phone buzzed. I looked, and I had a message that was positively surreal. It said that the Astros had taken a 7-6 lead over the Braves in the bottom of the 18th. This would, of course, mean that the Astros had won. I sat there, puzzled. I got another message later confirming that the Astros had won (with Roger Clemens the winning pitcher). I never saw that one coming ...
It still hurts. Any sports fan knows it. I guess I'll just have to soldier on . . . but it's been 10 years. Not 10 years of never having a chance (a la Cubs fans). 10 years of having a chance (even a good chance) and seeing it just slip away. Another season of saying, "We were so close." Except this year we weren't close. It was the worst postseason since we got swept in 2000 by the Cardinals. We won in 2001 and lost in 5 from 2002-2004. That 1996 team should have done it. The '97 team was the best team in baseball, they just couldn't beat the Marlins. The '98 team was the best team in the NL, but I guess they would have lost to the Yankees anyway. In '99 they did lost to the Yankees. Since then, it hasn't even been close. The closest it got was in 2001 in the NLCS against the Diamondbacks. Luckily, I didn't have to watch that one either (I was in England for the semester). It's just not fair.
As for the Yankees and Angels, the only series still pending, it's a toss-up. It's Mussina and Colon in a rematch from Game 1. I give the Yankees a slight edge, since they did beat Colon in Anaheim in Game 1. And if something happens to Mussina, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Randy Johnson come out of the bullpen.
The NLCS is close. Both teams are a step worse than last year. But the Astros have a strong edge in starting pitching, even stronger than I at first thought, given the Padres series. The Cards have the edge in the bullpen, but the Astros have a better closer in Lidge. Offense all belongs to the Cardinals, although the Astros have been unusually productive recently. I'll wait and make my official prediction later, when my mind isn't preoccupied with my losing-ass team.