Last night, the Texas Rangers were within an out of capturing their first World Series title, twice. For those of you apathetic or unfamiliar with baseball, I will keep this simple. The Rangers should have won and they should have won twice.
But they didn’t. The Cardinals fought back. First, on a ball that should have been caught in the ninth (to end the game), and second on a single in the 10th. Then finally, the hometown hero, David Freese, won the game on a walk-off home run in the 10th, capping off a comeback that will forever be remembered as an immutable classic, a moment of sheer amazement for the Cardinals and one of pure anguish for the Rangers.
This was only game six, though. Back in ’86 after the Mets pulled off an unbelievable game six comeback, Vin Scully, who was broadcasting the game, said that the Mets were not only alive, but they were well, a line that has always stuck out to me because of its simplicity and candidness. Jack Buck, after Kirby Puckett’s walk-off home run sent a series to game seven twenty years ago, said to fans “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.” Buck’s son, Joe, was broadcasting last night’s game and repeated his father’s frank sentiment. Only in baseball, right?
The question of where this game will rank among the always discussed “greatest games ever” will be directly affected by the result of tonight’s game seven. That’s what is so utterly awe-inspiring about the game of baseball. If history has told us anything, the Cardinals will beat the Rangers and capture the crown, sending a downtrodden Ranger’s squad, who have never won a World Series in the history of their franchise, back home to Texas. But who knows? Maybe Texas comes out angry and wins by six. Unlikely, yes, but possible. Hey, anything is possible, even angels in the outfield!
Baseball is a game of thought, patience and momentum. Momentum has shifted to the red birds. It can be squashed, but it will be tough. If the Rangers win tonight, last night’s game six will still be looked at as a classic, but its heaviness and aura of ‘destiny’ will be replaced with the ineffaceable disclaimer ‘the cardinals lost to the rangers in game 7.’ It may never top Mazeroski’s game 7 series-winning home run for the Pirates in ’60 or even Gonzalez’ game seven walk-off base hit against the Yankees in ’01, because both of those hits won the world series for their respective teams. But the sheer greatness of the Cardinals’ comeback may raise it on a different pedestal more equal to the Mets’ ‘amazin’ ’86 game six.
Even though this sounds trite, history will decide. What I do take from last night’s game, is that baseball is still America’s pastime and, despite my almost equal love for football, I feel more of a connection to the diamond. I share memories with baseball that are indelible. I have actually somewhat learned patience, resilience, love, and misery through watching the Mets. It may sound sad, but it’s not. Baseball, and all sports, are steeped in their ability to make people come together and, despite their social economic status or party affiliation, root root root for the home team. Baseball is tradition and patience. It is euphoria and cold defeat. And, as my dad most aptly suggested, it goes by no clock of fixed time limit. The game persists in a tie. It does end, though. But it never truly does, does it? One game may end, but another one begins. It is the constancy of the sport that has captured our youthful vigor and awe. It keeps us young and full of hope, insatiable hope, unruly hope, seemingly never-ending blind hope, but hope.
As the great Babe Ruth said, “Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.” That appears even truer this morning.
Now for your listening pleasure, here is the original version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” This song, which has become synonymous with the seventh-inning stretch, was written by Jack Norworth (lyric) and Albert Von Tilzer (music) in 1908. Yes, the song is over 100 years old. Enjoy.