Cooler air and Rays in playoffs - Say yay to October

Don't you love October?  Not only was it cooler this morning than it has been since March, but if you dig baseball locally in the Tampa Bay area you of course have to be excited about the Tampa Bay Rays appearance in the American League Division Series, beginning at 1:37 this Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg against the Texas Rangers.

In a game that was essentially meaningless once they learned that the (stumbling) New York Yankees had lost again in Boston, the Rays were stuck in extra innings until they were able to close it out in Kansas City in the 12th, and take their top AL record with them into this week's playoffs.

As a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants, I'd certainly love nothing more than to see a battle of two Bay Areas (in SF the "A" in Area is capitalized), after the Giants took to the last day of the season to beat the San Diego Padres and go to the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and host the Atlanta Braves, managed one last season by Bobby Cox, beginning this Thursday and Friday nights in San Francisco.

For sports fans, October is nirvana. Not only do you get extremely important baseball games (all the more intense if your team is participating in them, like the Tampa Bay region will be feeling over at least the next week), but also college and professional football.

Of course, in the post Tim Tebow era, things aren't the same for Urban Meyer's Florida Gators, who were simply crushed Saturday night against top ranked Alabama.  Out west another big game failed to live up to the hype, that being #3 Oregon smashing a surprising Stanford team.

Yours truly was also checking out college football on Saturday night, sitting in the stands at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum as the probation plagued USC Trojans played an extremely entertaining game against the University of Washington Huskies, with the Huskies winning with a field goal on the last play of the game, 32-31.

The NFL?  Well, there wasn't any local team to follow yesterday, and not because the Bucs again were blacked out.  In fact, they received a "bye" (not really at the most opportune time after only three games) and stayed home. They're back in action next Sunday in Cincinnati.

Actually, I don't have much more to add about the NFL, considering my two teams (Oakland and SF) are a combined 1-7 after yesterday, continuing their run as two of the worst franchises in the game since 2002.

But back to baseball.  Any of you catch the Ken Burns special Extra Innings last week on PBS?  The great thing about that show was it made it seem like you're almost doing something important just by being a fan.  Good times are coming up.

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