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David Freese provided a World Series moment for the ages last night.
No other sport could produce what we witnessed last night in St. Louis. The anticipation. The tension. The elation. The anguish. The back-and-forth swings of emotion that left us all glued to our TV until well past midnight.
The sense of history that allowed us to understand the significance of this Game 6 in comparison to the handful of other great ones we've seen before (1975, 1986, 1991). And an awareness of the personal touch that allowed us to fully appreciate Joe Buck's call of David Freese's 11th-inning home run, an homage to his father's identical call of Kirby Puckett's comparable game winner in Minnesota 20 years ago.
Seriously, if you couldn't relish all that at 12:38 a.m. as Mark Lowe's pitch connected off Freese's bat and sailed into the night ... well, I'm sorry, there's just no hope for you.
It's become en vogue to complain about baseball, about everything that's wrong with the sport. The games take too long. The umpires blow too many calls. Too much attention is given to the Yankees and Red Sox. The TV ratings are too low.
And maybe they're all valid complaints. Obviously, baseball no longer can claim its title as the American pastime. But you know what? The game still endures, because the game itself remains better than any other.
You can't experience what we did last night in football. Sure, two teams can go back and forth with dueling drives as the clock ticks down. But you always know you're up against the clock. Last night, the Cardinals were down to their final strike. Twice. At those moments, you knew the entire season could end with one more pitch. Or it could continue. And when Freese stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th, you knew he could win the game with one swing. Or the game could continue. That doesn't happen in football.
You can't experience what we did last night in basketball. Sure, there are buzzer-beaters and thrilling rallies. But how often do those classics turn into a one-man show? Down by one, five seconds on the clock? Give the ball to Michael Jordan and tell everyone else to get out of his way. That couldn't happen last night. Albert Pujols could only bat when his turn came up. And given the various situations when he did, the Rangers had the ability to pitch around him and take their chances with someone else. The Cardinals could only count on whoever's turn it was to hit (even if it was a pitcher). That doesn't happen in basketball.
You can't experience what we did last night in hockey. Yes, overtime in the playoffs is thrilling in its own right, but the pace is so breakneck that there's no time to anticipate what might happen next. The puck's at one end of the ice, then it's at the other end, then it gets deflected into the net and everyone's celebrating as we all try to figure out what in the world actually happened. Exciting? Yes. But it can't match the swings of momentum or tension that comes before, during and after each pitch thrown in extra innings.
No, there's really just no comparison to this kind of baseball. It doesn't happen every day, or even every year. But when it does happen, it's the greatest sports theater in the world.
And the best part is, it's not over yet. There's still one game to play. Game 7. Are there two better words in the English language?
Not to me.