October 08, 2016

Game 3 of the ALDS is a MUST WIN Game

But not for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox are down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians in their Division Series, so by any logical, reasonable, literal definition of "must win", game 3 is one.  Any elimination game is. When they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, Game 4 was a literal "must-win", so was Game 5 and 6. Game 7 became one for both teams.   But this isn't what I'm talking about.  If Boston loses tomorrow, it will be disappointing. Any time a team makes the playoffs and doesn't win the last game they play, it's a disappointment.  Mets and Orioles fans are disappointed and before we crown another World Series Champion, seven other fanbases will be disappointed.

But this doesn't make tomorrow's Clay Buchholz start at Fenway Park a "MUST WIN" for the Red Sox.  Their fans have been disappointed before, and they will be disappointed again.  You can't win it all every season.  Even if we win five World Series in the next six years, we will be disappointed the other time.   And that's ok.  What is tougher to handle are the  heartbreaking, soul-crushing defeats when you think you are going to win and it's pulled out from other you. That takes all off-season to get over.  Sometimes it takes many seasons. Think Bucky Dent, Buckner or Boone.

Losing tomorrow is ok. If we had swept the Indians in Cleveland, but then lost both games at Fenway Park, and ultimately Game 5 in Cleveland, THAT would be crushing.

I am going to conjecture that the Blue Jays NEED to win Game 3 against the Rangers at the Rogers Centre.  Why?  Well, let's work backwards from Game 5.  Let's say that they lose both games in Canada, and have to return to Arlington for a literal must win game.  The Rangers will be loose, they'll be playing like they have nothing to lose, they'll know they've been given an extra life.  Meanwhile the Blue Jays will probably have a similar feeling that the Yankees had heading into that Game 7 at the old Yankee Stadium in '04. They'll act confident, they'll say they know they're going to win, but you know they'll be tighter than a XXXXXX  in that dugout.  And if they lose, all off-season they'll be labelled chokers, losers etc.  And it will put extra pressure on Rogers to resign their free agents.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves, I'm talking about Game 5 and they haven't even played Game 3 yet.

So what about Game 4?  If they lose Game 3, they'll know they have two shots at winning still. Shouldn't be a lot of pressure on them.  BUT, it will be in the back of their mind that if they lose, they face the prospect of a do-or-die game in Texas, and they won't want to have their entire season's fate rest on a single game.   So their sphincters are going to be very tight for Game 4, because they'll want to avoid Game 5 at all costs.

So, let me recap to show how this makes Game 3 a must win:  Since Game 5 is a literal must-win game, that they want to avoid, Game 4 becomes a must-win. But they'll be tense in Game 4, worrying that if they lose they'll face Game 5, ergo Game 3 is a MUST-WIN game.

I suspect Blue Jays fans will be a lot more anxious watching tomorrow's game, than us Red Sox fans.  We'll see....

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