The NYT’s Bats Blog has a link-heavy recap of last night’s baseball. It’s a lot of fun to read if you’re a baseball fan, which I am.
I think there’s a distinction between team fan and baseball fan. I’m firstly a Dodgers fan, but they were out of the pennant chase by July, although Matt Kemp’s Triple Crown chase (he won the National League home run and runs-batted-in titles) and Clayton Kershaw’s wondrous season (he won the National League’s pitching Triple Crown: best earned run average, highest strikeout total, and highest number of wins) made it interesting to the end.
But if my team is out early, I can still find plenty to enjoy. In an “OMG look at that train wreck” sort of way the respective collapses of the Red Sox and the Braves were amazing. I kept thinking “they were so good for most of the season all they have to do is win three or four in a row and this will all be forgotten,” but neither team ever did. So it came down to one final chance yesterday. If the Sox and Braves won and the Rays and Cardinals lost, their seasons would have continued. Astonishingly, neither happened. The Red Sox bullpen couldn’t hold off the Orioles (the Orioles!), and the Braves’ two stalwart members of their bullpen failed to keep the Phillies down. Meanwhile the Cardinals had no trouble with the Astros, winning 8 – 0 behind their ace Chris Carpenter, so the Braves knew they had to win in extra innings or their season was done. They couldn’t do it. In Boston, three minutes after the Red Sox lost their heartbreaking game, they saw Evan Longoria of the Rays cap an unbelievable comeback by his team (they’d been down to the Yankees 7 – 0 going into the eighth inning, had gotten close on a 3-run HR by Longoria and then seen a two-out, two-strike HR by Dan Johnson tie the game in the ninth) by hitting a home run into the left-field seats, maybe two feet above the short fence out there and five feet from the foul pole.
So ended the hopes of both the Red Sox and the Braves.
As a baseball fan I was stunned. A desperate win by one team in extra-innings (the Rays), a horrific loss by another team in the ninth inning (the Red Sox), a game-ending double play in extra innings after giving up the lead (the Braves), and disbelief on the faces of thousands of fans in the stadiums and in the voices of broadcasters in the booths.
A wonderful and improbable number of conclusions all happened on the same night. As Joe Posnanski said in his post-mortem this morning:
“I’ve written this before: I never argue with people who say that baseball is boring, because baseball is boring. And then, suddenly, it isn’t. And that’s what makes it great.”
And then suddenly it isn’t. Truer words were never spoken.