Friday, October 28, 2011

Why This World Series Doesn't Matter....

I'm being facetious of course, you're damn right it matters! It matters to Rangers fans who have never tasted the glory of having their team win it all. It matters to Cardinals fans, arguably some of the best fans in baseball who again, have seen their team gain an improbable entry to the Fall Classic and sit at the precipice of their 11th Championship.

But if you listen to ESPN it's not supposed to matter. In the days prior to the World Series all they talked about was that the ratings were going to be poor. Now, I'm definitely not an expert on navigating the Baseball Reference or Fangraphs websites but I don't recall ever seeing television ratings listed there. Perhaps it's because they aren't a determinant of a compelling and entertaining World Series? If it were up to ESPN there'd be no point in even broadcasting this thing since the series lacks the participation of the Red Sox, Yankees & Phillies who are as you know, the only teams that matter....facetious again.

So here we sit just hours before the first World Series Game-7 since...and it pains me just to type this...2002 when the Giants lost to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-Santa Ana-Disneyland-Area Code 714-Fighting Rally Monkeys and holy smokes has this been a great series.

Games 1&2 - Edge of your seat one run affairs split between the two squads.

Game 3 - A historic performance by Pujols cementing his position among the greatest single game, post season performances of all time by going 5/6, scoring four times and driving in 6 and joining Ruth & Jackson as the only players to hit 3 HR's in a single World Series the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

Game 4 - A simply brilliant 8-1/3 inning shutout performance by Derek Holland and his horrific mustache. Mike Napoli continued his absurd post-season hot streak with a 3-run HR in the 6th but Hamilton's RBI double in the first frame would be all the offense the Rangers needed as the Cardinals were held to a mere 2 hits on the night...and the series was tied at 2 each.

Game 5 - A repeat matchup of Game 1 - Wilson v Carpenter each allowing just 2 runs and 6 or fewer hits. But the story of the night would be the controversial  bullpen phone faux-pas by LaRussa that brought in the wrong reliever not once, but twice. Rangers with a 3-2 advantage. 

Game 6...If you live on low ground or near a nuclear power plant you might want to head for the hills because the wave of hyperbole regarding last nights game is still building and justifiably so. The Rangers took a one run lead in the top of the first and the Cards answered with 2 in the bottom. The Rangers tied it in the 2nd. Both teams plated a single run in the 4th to retain the tie. The Rangers went ahead in the 5th. The Cardinals tied it in the 6th. The Rangers went ahead in the 7th with 3 runs scored and the DFW area started to taste it. Rich Aurilia was not so sure. The Cards scored 1 in the 8th and in the 9th with one strike remaining the Cards scored 2 to send it to extras. Both teams scored 2 in the 10th the Cards scoring their tying run AGAIN with only one strike remaining. And in the eleventh, the hometown kid, David Freese, hit a towering shot to near-straightaway center field for the win and to go 2/5 with 3 RBI's on the night.

So we are tied at 3 apiece and the series has featured historic individual performances, epic gaffes, great storylines on multiple players, close play, last strike comebacks and a walk-off HR to force a Game-7. What more could we ask for?

I'm torn as to what result I'd like to see. I prefer National League ball so on some level I lean toward the Cardinals and their great fans, but outside of Lance Berkman, I can't think of a player or coach on that team that I like. On the other side there are a number of "good guys" on the Rangers squad. I'd like to see guys like Hamilton, Andrus & Kinsler win it. I'd like to think that if they win Ron Washington might send a "special" text message to Billy Bean of the Athletics...something like "Do you like Apples?" would fit the bill nicely. And knowing CJ Wilson a little bit, it would be great to see him win. Despite struggling a bit in the post season he's had a great couple of years and he's a genuinely good kid.

So I guess, despite my general loathing for the American League and the abomination that is the designated hitter, I am rooting for the Rangers tonight. But, no matter how this thing turns out it's been one of the best World Series in recent memory, setting aside the special place in my heart held by the 2010 Series of course. The games have been for the most part close and the one that wasn't (Game-3) had more than it's fair share of compelling content in the performance of Pujols and that's about all you can hope for if your team isn't in it. Mine isn't, and neither are the Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies but who gives a rip? This has been a lot of fun.

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