The Major League Baseball league championship series were set Tuesday evening when the Texas Rangers eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants join the Rangers in the MLB final four, leaving Kentuckians with a mixed rooting interest. The Cincinnati Reds were the obvious choice for most Kentuckians, but their quick NLDS exist left fans unfulfilled.
The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Rays also had plenty of Kentucky connections, but the remaining four teams are a mixed bag when it comes to Bluegrass State ties. If you are looking for a Kentucky rooting interest, you can probably eliminate the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton did spend 11 games with the Louisville Bats in 2007 on a rehab assignment and Louisville native Todd Wellemeyer will likely receive a playoff share from the Giants despite being released earlier this season, but neither team boasts a strong Bluegrass State connection.
That leaves us with the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Lexington native Austin Kearns was on the Yankees NLDS roster, but didn’t appear in the team’s three-game sweep of the Twins. Franklin-Simpson High School alum and former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton didn’t appear in the Phillies three-game sweep of the Reds but is the likely choice for the game four start in the NLCS.
Kearns is probably Kentucky’s sentimental favorite. The Lafayette High School alum was drafted by the hometown Reds and spent parts of five seasons in Cincinnati. Kearns still hasn’t appeared in a postseason game, but should get that chance in the ALCS. Blanton already played a key role with the game-four win in the Phillies 2008 World Series championship.
BluGrass Baseball’s first inclination is to support Kearns, but something just doesn’t seem right about rooting for the Yankees. We wouldn’t blame you for picking either Kearns or Blanton, but here’s hoping for a key showdown between the two one-time Lexingtonians during game four of the World Series.