Friday, October 28, 2011

An iconic night, one more to go

US Presswire photo
David Freese provided a World Series moment for the ages last night.
This, this right here, is what makes baseball the greatest game ever invented.

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.

28 comments:

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Couldn't have said it better. Or as well, even.

John C. said...

Not a classic game, but a great game. One more game for 2011; I hope that it's worthy of what's been a real fun ride so far.

Once more, dear hearts, into the breach!

Scooter said...

You can't experience what we did last night in soccer. Nobody ever scores.

(I love soccer, so I'm allowed to make that joke.)

So, what other sports did our fearless blogger miss?

FOTB said...

Considering the current fascination with zombies and vampires, we should not have been surprised at what happened last night. No matter how many times the Rangers drove a stake into the Cardinals' heart, they would not die. Best WS game I've seen in a long, long time. And why baseball is such a great sport. Good article, Mark.

natsfan1a said...

Amen. Just a beautiful post, Mark. Thank you. I do love baseball! Can't wait to see how it turns out (and maybe I can even catch a few zzzz's before then).

Scooter said...

You can't experience what we did last night in bowling. When a bowler is down to his last strike, it still only scores 10 points. Sure, if it's the first throw of the 10th frame, he could get anywhere from 0 to 30, but I mean his last strike. You know? And the Cardinals had two last strikes. That doesn't happen in bowling.

natsfan1a said...

Particularly when I'm rolling the ball ('cause ain't no strikes happening then).

Scooter said...

You can't experience what we did last night in tennis. Tennis can have some great back-and-forth contests, because you have to win by two. But once you get near the end of the game, whoever goes up by two points wins. Twice the Rangers went up by two late in last night's game, but each time, the Cardinals still had a chance to come back and tie it up. That doesn't happen in tennis.

MicheleS said...

Some day, we here in Nats Town will experience this, and I can't wait! Go RANGERS

FS said...

Definitely can't experience this in Cricket. At some point in the game, you know games are truly lost (except the 438 match between Australia and South Africa) for one opponent.

This game reminds me of White Sox vs Nationals, June 24th when Nationals blew 3 leads by Storen, Coffey, and Clippard and won it in 14 innings. Yes, not the same scenario but was an epic game. Best Nats game this season.

Looking forward to game 7.

waddu eye no said...

mark - u da man

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Rugby? Naaaah. All the timed games are out.

Volleyball ... sorta. Maybe. But there's a relatively limited cast of characters. And when one team scores enough to win, it's over. So, no.

Ultimate Frisbee? Please.

What about the non-ball sports?


capcha = "uptilit"
Up til it ends. The captcha gods say Yea.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Ski jumping?

Boxing? Hmmmm. Maybe.

Racing?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Here's something no other sport can match baseball in: You can watch baseball every day for 100 years, and still see something you've never seen before. Other sports may do that, but they can't promise it.

baseballswami said...

And another thing about baseball - it seems to inspire its fan-base to be poetic. We romanticize games like this -- as Mark did today, and so did Sec 3. It was a roller coaster from start to finish and I can't tell you how many minutes I spent just holding my breath.And I really don't have a stake in who wins - I was alternating cheering for whatever side could extend the magic. When this is the Nats - I will need medication to get through it.

MicheleS said...

Swami.. Bourbon and Maalox.. that's the medication we will all be taking when the Nats are in this position!

Knoxville Nat said...

Mark,

Another great post as others have said and for two words that come in a second, a distant second perhaps, I'll submit "opening day".

Feel Wood said...

Scooter said...
You can't experience what we did last night in tennis. Tennis can have some great back-and-forth contests, because you have to win by two. But once you get near the end of the game, whoever goes up by two points wins. Twice the Rangers went up by two late in last night's game, but each time, the Cardinals still had a chance to come back and tie it up. That doesn't happen in tennis.


Actually, your two point argument is specious. Had the leads in last night's game been only one run rather than two, the drama would have been the same. Thus tennis with its win-by-two condition does provide every bit as much drama as baseball. When the last set is tied and then one player goes up by a game, the other player can indeed be down to his last serve but somehow come back to prolong the match. It's entirely possible for a tennis match to follow the same dramatic pattern as last night's game did.

Positively Half St. said...

Scooter- Good add-ons. The tennis one was particularly clever. Pity I could not get even close to staying up for that one with work so early the next day. Honestly, I might have stayed up until the middle of the 9th or 10th, thought "It's over," and missed one or both of the comebacks.

baseballswami said...

Running on 4 hours in the bed - I won't say sleeping because I was too jacked up to sleep at first. Not a terrible day - floating on baseball euphoria. I hope tonight is another epic battle - I am ready and I don't have to get up at 5. Bring it on!!!!!

LoveDaNats said...

Great article, Mark. What a game! and Knoxville Nat, I agree with you!

Eugene in Oregon said...

Two independent thoughts:

-- Was watching last night's game in a neighborhood bar, sitting near two Texas fans in town for the fishing (go figure). We were chatting good-naturedly throughout the game. When the Rangers went up by three shortly after the Beltre and Cruz solo HRs, I made a point of congratulating them on Texas' first World Series title, knowing full well (okay, hoping desperately) that by saying "congratulations, you've won" out loud, I'd put a jinx or reverse lock or whatever you want to call it on the game. You're welcome, Mr. LaRussa.

-- Furcal has been terrible in the lead-off role. If I'm Mr. LaRussa, I move him to 8th (or even 9th) in the order, move whoever's set for #2 up to lead-off, and let Pujols hit second, Berkman third, and Freese fourth. Give them each a fractionally better chance of hitting an extra time. And don't just give up the first out of the game.

Jim Webster said...

Just happened on a definition of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) -- depression that affects between 6-10% of the population generally during the winter months.
In other words, the time between the end of the World Series and the day pitchers and catchers report.
Go Cards, on the 85th anniversary of Grover Cleveland Alexander's 7th game relief victory over the Yankees.

Souldrummer said...

Tennis falls short because it's not a team sport. Yes, there are some epic Rafa/Federer battles that can approach what we saw for drama.

Just curious, wonder how closely tennis and baseball are related as "hit that ball" kind of sports from the perspective of the ancients.

Souldrummer said...

Amen to moving Furcal down. I realize you want to stand by your guys, but at some time or other you're cold or you're hot. An Furcal is in a deep freeze.

Scooter said...

Feel Wood said...
Actually, your two point argument is specious.


Sure was! Just like when I acted as if a strike in bowling were the same as a strike in baseball. Roll with it, my man.

[captcha: laphingu. submitted without further comment.]

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

"It's entirely possible for a tennis match to follow the same dramatic pattern as last night's game did."

no, because they don't have tiebreakers at the end of innings in baseball.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

"Furcal is in a deep freeze."

Fortunately, he's got a couple of months to warm up in style.

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