Baseball is awesome
Oct 27, 2011, 10:50 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2011, 12:42 pm
By Mike Salk
I am physically drained and emotionally spent.
Yes, I just watched Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. No, I didn’t have a real rooting interest in it. No, it didn’t matter.
Baseball at its best is just that awesome.
It’s fashionable to rip baseball for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s even warranted. Baseball is old fashioned. It can be boring. It takes a willingness to look at stats which sounds a lot like math. There is a competitive imbalance that allows wealthy teams to annually contend while thrifty teams can languish in the cellar for decades. It requires a huge time commitment to watch a whole game and an even bigger time commitment to follow your team closely for an entire season.
David Freese rounds first base after hitting a walkoff solo home run to win Game 6 of the World Series. (AP)
Baseball has all kinds of strikes against it. But it also lacks one thing by which every other major team sport is bound: a clock.
Not having a clock makes for incredible drama like we saw in St. Louis, a game that should stand up to history as perhaps the best World Series game ever. When there is no clock, you can always come back. You can twice save your season from the brink of elimination as the Cardinals did on hits from David Freese and Lance Berkman.
When there is no clock, you have too much time to think about what could happen. That means Rangers closer Neftali Feliz had all the time in the world to imagine what it would feel like to throw that final strike, but he also had all the time to let doubt creep into his psyche. It’s why they say that the best postseason performers stay within themselves, don’t overthrow or overswing, and don’t try to do too much.
When there is no clock, time can stand still, as it did when Freese took former Mariner Mark Lowe out of the park in the bottom of the 11th inning. Not having a clock allows for that magical moment after the ball has touched down in the grass behind the fence but he is still circling the bases and looking at his teammates as they all prepare for that jubilant dance at the plate that turns cynical men into carefree boys.
Baseball rewards the patient.
That can be frustrating because it takes a long time for anything in baseball to really matter. It can take years to turn around a moribund franchise â€¢ just ask Jack Zduriencik. It takes years for bigtime prospects to develop from draft day to their major league debut.
It takes more than eight months from the time pitchers and catchers report to camp until someone wins it all. Teams will play 162 regular season games, 30 spring training games and, hopefully, up to 19 postseason games as well. It takes dedication to watch many of them, near obsession to see them all. Yet, after all that sacrifice, all the nights you gave up your nightly run to watch the game, or couldn’t leave the TV until you saw that final out in the ninth, nothing is more rewarding the than gift baseball can drop on you at the end.
Like Game 6 in St. Louis.
Game 6 might have been the greatest World Series game ever because it had everything. Home runs, errors, debatable managerial decisions, pitchers pinch-hitting for each other, key injuries, not one but TWO hits to save the season for the home team that was down to its final strike, and ultimately a walkoff home run for a kid that plays for his home town team.
Baseball is great because as a fan, it puts you through hell but can reward you with the greatest joy in sports. Did you see all the Cardinals fans in the stands with their fingers crossed, nearly paralyzed with nervous energy? Baseball makes you want your team to come through so badly it can be hard to watch them.
Ultimately, the good things in baseball come to those who wait.