Baseball is demanding. There are 162 games, which this year stretched from deep March until late September, except for the Boston Red Sox, who quit in August to open a llama farm in Vermont. A season can exhaust you like a turgid novel: players dazzle and slump; managers get bronzed or sacked; spring brilliance shrivels in the summer heat. Rivalries, statistics, carnage on the disabled list —it's a lot to keep track of.
For a busy fan, baseball can feel like a second job. A second job in which one spends an alarming amount of time listening to John Kruk.
When the October chill arrives, baseball clarifies. Eight teams now remain—six division winners, and two wild cards. This year the survivors include Philadelphia, St. Louis, Arizona, Milwaukee, Detroit, the Yankees of New York, Texas and the Tampa Bay Rays, the last of which won its postseason place by tiptoeing into Theo Epstein's office and ripping the last chapter from his copy of "Moneyball for Billionaires."