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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
DETROIT (AP) — Grant Balfour and the Oakland Athletics aren’t making many new friends in the Motor City.
That’s fine with Balfour, the high-strung Oakland reliever who nearly came face to face with Detroit’s Victor Martinez while closing out the Tigers in Game 3 to send the defending AL champions to the brink of elimination.
Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith homered for the Athletics, who chased Anibal Sanchez in the fifth inning Monday and defeated the Tigers 6-3 for a 2-1 lead in the AL division series. Balfour pitched a hitless ninth for the save, and he and Martinez started shouting at each other after the Detroit designated hitter fouled a pitch off and looked back at the mound.
“I said, ‘Why you staring me down like that?’” Balfour said. “He was staring me down. He knew what he was doing.”
That dust-up was a tense moment, but the A’s were in control by that point. Detroit must now beat Oakland twice in a row to have any chance of returning to the World Series after being swept by San Francisco a year ago.
“They have a good team and we have a good team. Unfortunately, someone has to lose, and we’re down 2-1,” Martinez said. “We know what we have to do, and we’ve done it before.”
Moss broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a solo shot, and Smith’s two-run drive later in the inning ended Sanchez’s day. It was an impressive offensive show after the teams split two taut, low-scoring games in Oakland.
The A’s lost to the Tigers in the decisive fifth game of last year’s division series, and they’d love to end this one in Game 4 on Tuesday. Rookie Dan Straily takes the mound against Detroit’s Doug Fister.
The Tigers were in the process of going quietly in the ninth inning Monday when Martinez started looking back at Balfour after hitting a foul ball. Moments later, the two were shouting at each other and Martinez was heading slowly toward the mound.
Players from both teams came running out. The situation eventually calmed and no players were ejected. Martinez said Balfour swore at him while asking him what he was looking at.
“I don’t know him at all. I know he’s a great closer, but I don’t know him,” Martinez said. “I was looking at him. Where did he expect me to look? I just wanted him to throw the ball.”
Sanchez, the American League’s ERA leader, allowed six runs — five earned — and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings. Smith has homered off Sanchez more than any other player, having now done it twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs.
Jarrod Parker gave up three runs in five innings for Oakland, and the Tigers couldn’t rally against the bullpen.
Oakland lost the opener in this series before evening it with a 1-0 win in Game 2. That victory came in a pitchers’ duel between Oakland’s Sonny Gray and Detroit’s Justin Verlander, and with Sanchez set to start for the Tigers on Monday, it looked like the A’s might need another brilliant performance on the mound from Parker.
But they had Sanchez in trouble almost immediately, scoring a run in the third and two more in the fourth. Although the Tigers finally snapped out of their offensive funk with a three-run fourth, Sanchez couldn’t keep the ball in the park.
Moss hit a line drive over the wall in right to make it 4-3, and Smith’s high fly carried over the fence in left-center.
“The momentum shifted, crowd got into it, all of the sudden it’s a tie game,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Brandon Moss hit a home run. That’s a huge swing in momentum for us. At the time it felt like it was more than just a solo home run, so big of a swing for us.”
Coco Crisp had two doubles and a single for the A’s.
A banged-up Miguel Cabrera made an error at third base that gave the A’s their first run, and Detroit’s vaunted starting rotation finally slipped in Game 3.
Sanchez allowed 0.45 homers per nine innings in the regular season, the lowest mark in the AL, and Oakland took him deep three times; he had not allowed more than one homer in a start previously this year.
Oakland threatened in each of the first three innings but needed a break to score the game’s first run. After Crisp’s single to start the third, Josh Donaldson walked. Jed Lowrie and Moss both struck out, and it looked like Sanchez might get out of the inning when Yoenis Cespedes hit a sharp grounder to Cabrera.
The slugging third baseman couldn’t come up with the ball and couldn’t keep it in front of him, and the error allowed the A’s to take the lead.
Oakland made it 3-0 in the fourth. Reddick led off with his first homer since Sept. 15, and Stephen Vogt followed with a triple and scored on Crisp’s one-out sacrifice fly.
Vogt was safe when Jhonny Peralta — who moved from shortstop to left field after returning last month from his drug suspension — couldn’t make a strong enough throw home.
Peralta was in the lineup for his bat, and he did give the Tigers a boost shortly after his weak throw. After going scoreless for the previous 20 innings, Detroit pushed across three runs in the fourth to tie it.
With men on first and third, Martinez hit an RBI double down the line in right field. Then Peralta added a two-run single to left.
But the A’s went right back to work against Sanchez, and now they’re one win from a trip to the AL championship series.
NOTES: Oakland had lost four straight road postseason games, including two in Detroit last year. … Cabrera, who has battled problems with his groin, hit a sharp grounder down the line in left field in the first, but he has been slowed so much that he couldn’t even try to stretch the hit into a double. Cabrera has reached base in all 27 of his postseason games with the Tigers. … Donaldson, Oakland’s third baseman, went sliding feet first into a short portion of the fence while chasing a foul ball in the fourth. He didn’t make the catch, but he wasn’t hurt either.
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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