Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Greatest Game - The Greatest Night

Baseball is such a beautiful game. 162 games is an absolute grind of a season for the players, but for the fans its an absolute delight, especially when it ends like it did last night. Wednesday, September 28th might very well go down as the greatest single day in baseball history. No less than four teams entered the day completely tied for wild card spots, one in each league. I knew it was going to be a special day to be a baseball fan, and cleared everything from my evening plans except being glued to the TV, but nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see.

Such was the drama, excitement, astonishment, and wonder of last nights games that I feel that such words really are almost meaningless in trying to describe it. This is coming from a hardcore Yankees fan, and the Yankees lost last night, in what I can only describe as the greatest single game comeback I have ever witnessed. But what made the comeback so incredible, so indelible, was that it completed a season long comeback by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to capture the wild card spot which defied every law of logic and physics. At the beginning of September, the statistical geniuses at Baseball Prospectus rated Tampa's chances of winning the AL wild card at POINT ONE % (.1%): the Red Sox were a lock to win a playoff spot.

What happened is completely beyond imagination: Boston started losing games at a historic rate, and Tampa rapidly closed the gap with solid, winning play day after day. Last night, Tampa needed Boston to lose, and they had to win in order to secure a playoff spot. If both teams won or lost, they would play a one game playoff for the wild card spot. When the Yankees took a 7-0 lead vs Tampa, and Boston had their ace closer Jon Papelbon on the mound with the lead in the 9th innning against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, it seemed the cards had all fallen and destiny was set. But it was not to be.

Not only did Papelbon blow the save, and lose the game to a walkoff hit, but Evan Longoria and Dan Johnson etched their names into the history books with one of the most clutch performances in the history of sports. Longoria hit a 3 run home run in the 8th inning to pull the Rays within one run of the mighty Yanks at 6-7, and Dan Johnson hit an absolutely insane pinch hit, bottom of the ninth, two out, two strike home run to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Longoria ended it in the 12th inning with a walkoff home run which barely scraped out of the stadium and completed the greatest comeback in baseball history. The plot of The Natural is more believable.

And I havent even talked about what happened in the National League. I dont think I can. Im too exhausted, too excited... This is why we watch sports, for moments like this. Moments that define an era, define a career, and help to define our lives.

1 comment:

HisNoodlyAppendage said...

I never thought I would be ecstatic over a Yankee loss, but last night reminded of why I love baseball. Mind blowing tension. Slowly building all month long in the tedious march toward the post-season. Then after one last tortuous bit of foreplay, a burst of the unexpected with two walk-offs.
A night I will never forget.