What A Night! The end of the MLB Regular Season
Ok, I’m back! After a day of mourning, and hiding from the sports world completely, I realize baseball goes on, and so must I. Wednesday night I remember getting a text from Mike (my editor and chief), right after the last beach ball of a pitch was thrown in Tampa, saying “I hope your writing about this wild night!” And I think I replied with something like ” Go f… fly a kite!” Anyways, I thank Mike for writing something for me during my sabbatical.
From a baseball stand point it was one of the greatest nights in MLB history. It wasn’t quite as big of a comeback as the Red Sox down 3 games to none to the Yankees in ’04. Or quite as exciting as watching Joe Carter leap around the bases in the 6th game of the 1993 World Series . But it was right up there, and had all of the aspects of a night I will remember for ever. The best part, it wasn’t just one game, it was league wide! Unfortunately for me (being a Red Sox fan), it was bitter sweet. I kind of felt like Liv Tyler in Armageddon. I was watching something spectacular, that was impacting our world, but at the same time I was losing a loved one to the cause.
There is a famous statistician, Nate Silver, who released the odds on the Rays making the playoffs, going back as far as Sept 3rd. The number is staggering. They had a 1 in 278 million chance of making the playoffs from September 3rd down to the last swing of Longoria’s bat. And it sounds crazy, but I believe it.
Wednesday evening began as a normal evening of sports watching should. I had my snacks, my drinks, the baby was down, the wife was watching some low-budget vampire show in the bedroom, and I had the two most important games of the evening on recall. To my delight the Red Sox jumped out to an early 1-nothing lead, and as I flipped channels I saw the Yankees put up 5 runs in the 2nd, life was good. I was able to lounge back and enjoy my snack. Things got a little intense when Baltimore took the lead 2-1, but order was quickly restored when Pedroia belted a solo shot to put the Sox back on top 3-2. The game was close, but with the Yanks up big, I felt comfortable checking on the other games.
The NL mirrored the AL. The Cards were up big also, and looked to be cruising to an easy victory, and the Braves were in a nail biter against the Phillies. There were also the “home field advantage” games on, but with all the other excitement, I could wait for sports center for those results. I took the Yankees/Rays off of recall, and was flipping between The Sox and the Braves, when like a metaphor for the evening, the rain started pouring in Baltimore. During the delay I put the Yanks/Rays game back on the flip channel and took the Bo Sox off. During the break I figured it was a good time to empty the tank, check on the baby, check on the wife, and get a refill.
I sat down with my new beverage, took a sip, and almost spilled it on my lap… was that a typo on the scoreboard? The Rays Scored 6 runs, to bring them within 1! And, were going to extras in Atlanta?!? I watched with a smile on my face, as a pitch hitter, batting .106 on the season, with 1 home run to date, strolled to the plate with 2 out in the bottom of the 9th. The Rays last hope. Then with two strikes, and the Rays down to their last pitch, horror spread across my face as I watched the ball sail over the right field fence! Another game to be decided in extras.
Things were getting serious, and I was starting to sweat. The Sox game resumed in Baltimore, and the Cards completed the shutout of the Astros. The Cards fate was in the Braves hands, while the Red Sox were still in control of theirs. The Red Sox failed to capitalize on a few opportunities and found themselves up by 1 in the bottom of the 9th. But things were ok because the ball was in Papelbon’s capable hands. Or so I thought… With two swings of the bat the game was tied, and with another, the game was over. The Orioles, for no other reason than “why not?”, have put the hopes of Red Sox nation in the hands of their mortal enemy.
I wiped the sweat off of my face, crawled over to the tv, and manually (having thrown the remote across the room somewhere) changed the channel to the Yankees game. They were showing the update from Atlanta. The Braves had stumbled in the 13th, and the Cards, who were once down by 8.5 games, were going to the postseason! I was hoping that the Red Sox, whose season mirrored that of the Braves, would not share a similar fate. But as they flashed the updates from the two finished games on the scoreboard, and the Trop erupted in cheers, I could sense the new found adrenaline in the Rays dugout. Kneeling on the ground in front of the tv with my hands on my head, I watched the nightmare unfold. Evan Longoria stepped up to the plate with one out in the bottom of the 12th, and hit one that wouldn’t come back. A walk off homer in extra innings to send the cinderella Rays into the postseason! I collapsed on the floor… Cue Mikes text, “I hope your writing about this wild night!”