Thu 29 Sep 2011
I watched more baseball on TV last night than I have all year. It was the last day of the regular season, and I can’t remember when there were more unknowns for the playoffs on the day of Game 162 — who was playing whom and where — than yesterday.
There were actually three games I was switching back and forth between. Mostly I was watching Boston play Baltimore, but at the end of each half inning, I went down two channels to see how Tampa Bay was faring against the Yankees. Whenever both games were playing commercials — more often than you’d think — I flipped over to one of the ESPN channels to watch Atlanta play the Phillies.
Two of the games went into extra innings, and one was decided in the ninth in a stunning comeback against the second best reliever in baseball. All three were epics that fans will remember for a long time, with dramatic home runs and fielding plays galore, but what I kept thinking of is how much the other 161 games matter too.
Two of the teams, Boston and Atlanta failed badly down the stretch, and I mean badly, relinquishing leads in the standings next to impossible to lose, or so you’d think. If this had been fiction, no one would have believed it. It’s why when the sports pulps died, they stayed dead.
My team, Detroit, is still in the running. They play the Yankees on Friday night. If I had to cheer on a National League team, it would be Arizona, managed and coached by two of my favorite former players, Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell.
Both played for Detroit, of course.