Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Has Jayson Werth stopped laughing?
He was hammered in Philadelphia after signing as a free agent with the Washington Nationals before last season, ripped for taking the money and leaving a playoff team, Werth now has a lot more money and his Nats nearly won 100 games.
As for the Phillies, they didn't nearly win 100 games, they barely won 80.
Funny game, baseball.
The postseason is about to begin for the lucky few (and as for that extra wild card, turns out it was pretty cool after all. It made the races more interesting down the stretch).
While a lot of the usual suspects - the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers - are still playing, the most intriguing group has to be the Nationals. But what about the Oakland A's? (more on them later)
What a great story. A doormat in Washington since arriving (returning really) in 2005, the Nats drafted well and traded well and became what they are today, a World Series contender. Think about that. Only the Nationals (formerly the Expos) and the Mariners have never played in the Fall Classic. That could change soon.
Tell me, if you could have any roster in baseball right now, wouldn't you take Washington? Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Morse, Werth, the Zimmermans, Ryan and Jordan. Give me them.
Of course, Strasburg has been shelved, and the Nats will take a ton of heat if they run out of pitching, but they're still capable of causing plenty of damage. Will they win it all? Can't make that call right now.
Same thing with Oakland. If the Nats are story No. 1, the A's are No. 1A. Picked to be the runt of the litter once again, all the A's did was sweep the two-time American League champion Texas Rangers this week to win the West. Unstinkin' believable.
Thirteen games behind the division-leading Rangers on June 30 - with the lowest payroll in baseball to boot - maybe the A's are story No. 1.
It doesn't really matter, both are obviously worthy.
We're not going to predict a Nats-A's World Series (at least not yet). Instead, let's wait a bit and see how things play out and then make a wrong prediction a week or two from now. That I can guarantee.
While we celebrate the winners at the end of every season, and rightfully so for a job well done, the losers are just set adrift.
How did you know when your favorite baseball team was done? All you had to do was listen to a sports radio update over the last week or two.
The deep voice rattled off the stories of the day and then gave the baseball scores. But only a few scores, of the games that mattered. Didn't hear a score for your team, it wasn't because they didn't play, it was because it didn't matter.
And for fans of teams that were out of it long ago, I hope you didn't get excited about being a spoiler.
Being a spoiler means your team stunk. "Hey, we can keep so and so from clinching on our field if we sweep this series." Whoop de doo.
Maybe your team did, but then the team it did it to clinched a playoff spot in the next city it went to and your team went to play golf.
It's about making the postseason and winning it all. That's what we remember. And speaking of remembering, this writer took some flak from fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates and fans of the Kansas City Royals for saying "way back" in the spring that those teams, while the chic pick of some experts, would flounder again.
But, for a while there, it looked like the Bucs were going to prove me wrong. And, even though I'm not a Pirates fan, I wish they would have.
Pittsburgh was rocking for a good part of the season. The Pirates were winning close games, drawing some crowds and bringing some summer excitement back to western Pennsylvania. Heck, there was even plenty of playoff talk.
Then, it went away. The Pirates pulled a Stricker (a new term that I bet catches on) and started losing and losing badly just when their fans needed the opposite.
Another losing season in Pittsburgh. What is it now? Twenty straight seasons? Indeed.
And for the Royals, barely 70 wins. Not quite gonna do it. And I won't even talk about the Chicago Cubs or the Los Angeles Angels.
There's always next year for baseball fans. We hang our hat on it.
But let's worry about that come spring training. For now, let's just enjoy October.
If your team is part of the postseason show, good for you. Have fun because you never know when, or if, it will happen again.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area newspapers for over 25 years.