I haven’t much excuse for not posting anything of considerable substance these past few weeks. I can only say that the well of writing inspiration has been bone dry as of late. It’s September… I’m a Cubs fan. (I’m sure the world understands.) In any case, if the events of last night weren’t enough to electroshock me back into a baseball state of mind, I cannot imagine what would be.
Baseball fans witnessed not one, but TWO of the most improbable comebacks/collapses in the history of the game. Pity the Braves and Red Sox nations. I have seen my fellow Cub fans rejoicing all over the place that some of the heat may at last be lifted from our 1969 squad; no longer shall they and they alone be looked upon as the pinnacle of baseball failures! Welcome back to the club, Boston!
The Cardinals comeback/Braves collapse, of course, is the least enthusing of the two. I don’t look on Atlanta with an unfriendly eye, and the Cards are, well, the Cards. There is one circumstance from this that I do look on with utter and jubilant satisfaction. Around a month ago (perhaps a bit more than that) my brother and I made a bet regarding a certain St. Louis first baseman. I thought he would finish out the year hitting below .300 for the first time in his celebrated career. The bro insisted he would finish on top of the mark, as he always has. Initially, my brother suggested we bet a penny on our little disagreement. Feeling confident, I insisted we up it to a nickel. We did not forget our friendly little bet, and would update each other on where it stood several times a week. Going into last night, Mr. Pujols’ average was sitting at exactly .300, or .301 (I don’t recollect.) I am happy to report, he went just 1-for-5 against Astros pitching and has finished 2011 with a batting average of .299. How’s that for drama? How’s that for sibling rivalry? Time to cough up that nickel, brother.
The Tampa Bay Rays comeback, and the Boston Red Sox ultimate demise is, in my opinion, the most exciting thing. Of this year. And… of a lot of additional years. A few weeks ago, the lowly Rays were nine games behind in the wildcard standings. Everyone was talking about how dumb and unfair it is how the Yankees and Red Sox have a stranglehold on the AL East and wildcard. Something must be done, people said. Well, something was done. And the Rays did it.
Last night around 10:00, it looked like it was just going to be one of those disappointing almost-great-stories after all. With Boston up on Baltimore late in their game, and Tampa trailing by 7 to the Yankees in the 8th, I supposed the whole thing had come to nothing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was thinking things like, “Oh well, they made it interesting” and “They should be proud of themselves, they put up a great fight” and all that. And then, all of a sudden, BOOM! 7-run deficit… gone! I was still listening to the Cubs (who, appropriately, fell 9-2 at the hands of the Padres) at that point and it was amusing to hear the updates and reactions from Pat, Keith, and Judd. I think everyone was more interested in what was going on in Florida than in San Diego. Who could help it?
As the Rays and Yanks headed into extra innings, I switched over to watch them on MLB.tv, keeping tabs of the O’s and Sox on the side. Moments after Jonathan Papelbon imploded, allowing the Orioles to score 2 runs and snatch the win, my Twitter feed exploded. And then Evan Longoria sealed the deal with a walk-off homer for the Rays and it exploded some more.
I think everyone had the same reaction: “Did that just happen?” The chances, according to this article on Yahoo? One in 278,000,000. One in two hundred and seventy eight million. Think about that for a second.
If anything outnumbered the outcries of, “Can you believe it?!?!”, it was “This is why I love baseball.” This is, indeed, why we love baseball. If I may quote from the one and only Dirk Hayhurst (who Twittered much last night, to the delight of all), “What’s great is, this is what you play for all season: a moment to decide something, to feel destiny in you hands and touch its consequences”, “Tonight is baseball magic, the tangible, palpable kind that reminds you why you love the game—for feelings like this, perfect and timely.” Truth.
I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Who’s ready for some postseason baseball???