Friday, October 28, 2011
The teams split the first two exciting games, each decided by one run. The Cards won in a blow out in Game #3, but watching the epic performance of Albert Pujols, with five hits, three of them home runs (joining only Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson with 3-homers in a World Series game) provided its own joy. In Game #4, we were treated to a pitching gem by the Rangers' Derek Holland, with his adolescent mustache and refreshing sense of humor. The fifth game was another tight one, also going to the Rangers, who scored the winning runs in the 8th inning. (Managers still communicate with their bullpen coaches by way of the old fashioned telephone, and in the pivotal 8th inning, the coach didn't have the right guy warming up because he didn't hear the manager's instructions. I love old school stuff, but maybe they should text.)
Which brings us to last night. A game for the ages. Sloppy play early on and repeated heroics by game's end. Texas was on the verge of winning its first World Series in franchise history, only to see St. Louis tie the game in the ninth inning with David Freese's two-out triple just out of the reach of outfielder Nelson Cruz. After a two-run homer in the tenth by Ranger Josh Hamilton, the Cardinals came back again, with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, and then won it in the 11th, with a home run by Freese over the center field wall. (Hamilton, by the way, said that God told him he would hit the home run but didn't mention anything about winning the game.)
There is nothing like the seventh game of the World Series. First, as always with baseball, there is history and tradition: heroics by Bill Mazeroski in 1960, Sandy Koufax in 1965, Bob Gibson in 1967, Mickey Lolich in 1968, Willie Stargell in 1979, Ray Knight in 1986, and Jack Morris in 1991; Willie McCovey lining out to end the 1962 Series and Mariano Rivera blowing a save in 2001.
Almost by definition, if the series has gone to the limit (something that hasn't happened in 9 years) it means the teams are evenly matched and that we have been treated to some dramatic performances, as we surely have this year. Also, after six games we have gotten up close and personal with the players on each team, so even if we didn't care about these guys before, we do now. And, finally, Game #7, the last game of the year, has a special intensity in which it seems that every pitch, every hit, every play could provide the deciding moment in a season that began back in April.
Now you're caught up. Even if you aren't much of a baseball fan or if you haven't really paid attention to the Series, it's not too late. So, as legendary announcer Vin Scully would say, "pull up a chair."