When I think about the end of baseball season, I think about the soul-crushing Canadian winter: I know it’s coming, there’s nothing I can do to delay the inevitable, it gets worse every year, and there’s no way I can possibly prepare myself; it is utterly depressing. It’s a long season, no doubt, and now there’s only one game left. Where does the time go?
Below, 27 of my inner-most thoughts on baseball — game six, the World Series, and more — as we prepare to say goodbye …
1. About last night: That was some silly, silly shit. I can’t really describe it any other way. It didn’t make sense. The comedy of errors, on the field and in the dugouts; the home runs and the lead changes; the many final at-bats of Albert Pujols’ Cardinals career; Mike Napoli’s ankle; Nelson Cruz in right field; Matt Holliday’s wrist; God telling Josh Hamilton he was about to hit a home run. I mean, I like to think of God as being a pretty busy cat, but even he was enthralled by last night’s baseball game. And can you blame him? It had it all.
2. I don’t think I can call what I watched last night simply a “baseball game.” That doesn’t do it justice. It was so much more. It was theater. I almost felt underdressed, watching the 10th inning on television at home.
3. I saw a billion similar tweets as the drama unfolded: “If you’re not a fan of baseball after this …” and “If anyone ever tells you baseball is boring …” etc., etc. Look, nothing’s changed: Some people are morons. They think baseball’s boring. They don’t appreciate the game. We don’t need them. To hell with ’em.
4. Tony La Russa said last night, “You had to be here to believe it.” Were I a Cardinals fan, and had I been there, I probably still wouldn’t have believed it.
5. Were I a Cardinals fan, or a Rangers fan, for that matter, and had I been at the game, I wouldn’t have even made it to the end. I might have just broken down. The team I support hasn’t made the playoffs since I was 11-years-old. Sure, I’m an adult now, albeit barely, but I have no idea how I might emotionally respond to the events that took place last night. Frankly, I’m a bit afraid to find out.
6. I can’t stop thinking about it: The Cardinals were a strike away, twice, from elimination. The Rangers were a strike away, twice, from baseball immortality. My God. So much was riding on one pitch. It’s what makes baseball so incredible. I thought the Cardinals were done. Twice. Especially after Hamilton’s home run, signed, sealed and delivered by God himself. What a game. What a sport.
7. In my heart, I’m rooting for the Rangers. I feel more sympathetic to the Texas fanbase than the St. Louis fanbase. Don’t get me wrong, the Cardinals’ run these past couple of months has been nothing short of incredible, much fun to watch, but they’ve won a number of World Series titles. As recently as 2006. Pujols has his ring. The suffering of a fanbase, any fanbase, is one I relate to, much more than I’d like to. Droughts should end. And for the Rangers to lose back-to-back World Series, being a strike away this time, not once but twice? No, that’s too much. No fan should have to endure that type of pain.
8. Full disclosure: I’ve got money riding on the Rangers. Canadian money. But there’s nothing better than game seven for the title, no matter the sport. Tonight’s going to be bloody fantastic.
9. David Freese grew up playing baseball in St. Louis, a fan of the Cardinals. He quit playing baseball in his senior year of high school, and turned down a baseball scholarship from the University of Missouri. He decided to study computer science instead, until he realized how much he missed baseball. Freese’s story is straight wild; I simply can’t get over it. He is actually, truly, physically living his dreams. Even in his wildest dreams, I doubt he dreamed of the October he’s had.
10. Seriously. What a bloody game. I want to say game seven won’t be anywhere near as good, but baseball’s ability to shock and surprise is what makes it the greatest game on the planet.
11. Lord knows they both have their faults, and I was going to go with a million times more, but it’s actually unquantifiable how much more likeable Ron Washington is compared to Tony La Russa.
12. It should be mandated that every Major League Baseball manager has to do “The Wash” — the sprint on the dugout steps — when his players are running the bases.
13. It’s been a few days, and I’ve read a number of posts/articles detailing La Russa’s explanation of what happened to/in the St. Louis bullpen in game five, but I still haven’t the slightest clue what happened to/in the St. Louis bullpen in game five.
14. Remember game five? All that drama in the bullpen? Jesus. I mean, I almost forgot about that fiasco after last night. What a series.
15. Tony La Russa being “offended” by Moneyball is such a Tony La Russa thing to do, that it makes me like Ron Washington even more. I’m sure Wash loved Moneyball.
16. The New York Times proves that everything we thought about pig farmers is wrong. Lindy Hinkelman, a — you guessed it — pig farmer, has won more $300,000 playing fantasy baseball over the past three years. He took home over $240,000 — almost a quarter-freaking-million dollars — in 2009 alone. Hinkelman’s from Greencreek, Idaho, wherever the hell that is, and is in the running for the general manager job with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s either Hinkelman or Tony LaCava.
17. Could you imagine Baltimore naming a pig farmer who dominates fantasy baseball their new general manager? I sure could.
18. I can’t imagine that, if you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, there are too many good days. Surely, though, Tuesday, October 25 was a great day: Theo Epstein’s now in charge. This shot is definitely my favorite. It reminds me of a wedding photo. Minus the bride. I guess the Cubs are the bride. Yes. The Cubs are the bride, and Theo Epstein is Prince Charming.
19. This one‘s good, too. Would make an excellent cover one day for Theo’s memoirs.
20. I still can’t believe the Boston Red Sox let Epstein go. Tito, fine, heads, or a head, had to roll. But Epstein? Idiots.
21. And I still don’t quite understand Boston’s overtures towards Blue Jays manager John Farrell, leading Toronto to make an employment amendment and block lateral moves. Peter Gammons, in his infinite wisdom, said: “The Red Sox knew John Farrell wouldn’t bail after a year. They know him. But fiction winked at reality and forced an employment ‘amendment.'” Now, Gammons is the man, and we love him around here, but I don’t buy that. After they let Epstein walk, I’m not about to give the Red Sox credit for anything. I can’t believe Boston’s sole motivation was to shit-disturb and have the Jays change some policy. If it was, bravo Boston. Bravo.
22. About the rumours, instead of being ever the diplomat, I would have liked John “President” Farrell to say something along the lines of: “I’m all Blue Jay.” You know, like State Trooper Rod Farva, in Super Troopers, when he was being courted by the police force.
23. If you haven’t yet read Jeff Sullivan’s account of the soap opera that was Farrell, the Red Sox, and the Blue Jays, I’ll wait:
One report connecting the Blue Jays and the Red Sox and the Blue Jays’ entire organization was overwhelmed to the point of virtual inactivity. While this story was going around, the Blue Jays had trouble doing what they wanted to be doing. This episode demonstrates the extent of the mayhem the Boston media can incite, and one can only hope that the Red Sox themselves haven’t been paying close attention, because if they have, they’ve surely come to understand the competitive advantage this has brought to light.
The Red Sox trolling other organizations is the new Moneyball. Read the Sullivan piece here.
24. Back to last night: The photos of the Freese walk-off are amazing. There’s something magical and incredibly riveting about the walk-off: the way the batter’s teammates explode from the dugout, celebrate with each other, point at the game’s hero as he rounds the bases, and then wait for him at home plate. (And then proceed to rip and tear off his jersey like a gang of lunatics.)
25. When the Rangers were a strike away from winning it all last night, Nolan Ryan was sitting down. What a man.
26. I’d like to sit and chat baseball, and have a few beers, with Nolan Ryan and George W. Bush.
27. The 2011 Keeping It Real Award goes to Lance Berkman. If every baseball player was as quotable as he is, the world would be a better place. My heart’s with the Rangers tonight, but I can’t root against Berkman.
Enjoy the game tonight. And thanks for reading NotGraphs this season.