Baseball is amazing
By Mike Salk
I woke up Thursday morning still totally and completely psyched about what we all watched unfold last night in Tampa, Baltimore and Atlanta. It was the single greatest night of regular season baseball any of us have ever seen and I can only hope that it re-energizes a sport that has lost so much ground to the NFL that I don’t know if enough people were even watching last night.
There were so many cool things that happened last night.
• The Braves blew not only an 8.5 game lead in the NL wildcard race, but also a 3-1 lead in the final game. Their two best relievers, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel each gave up runs which should be a surprise and they may even take the blame. But remember, rookie manager Fredi Gonzalez is the one who overused them this year. Kimbrel appeared in more games than any other major league closer. The temptation is always there for a manager to rely on his best guys, but the smart manager knows he may need to preserve some of those outings for the end of the year.
• Speaking of closers, it wasn’t exactly a banner night for that position. Both Jonathan Papelbon and Kimbrel (two of the best in the game) blew leads in key spots.
• Of course, the greatest story is the collapse of the Red Sox – yes, the same Red Sox that spent through the roof for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this offseason. While they can blame injuries for some of their late-season problems, it won’t hide the irony of their loss to the low budget Rays, which lost Crawford, closer Rafael Soriano, starter Matt Garza and other key pieces of their team.
But the story of Crawford sums it up best. He should be embarrassed today. Not only did he hit just .255 with 11 home runs after signing in Boston for $20 million per year (talk about an expensive No. 8 hitter), but much of that value is wrapped up in his defense. A “great” defensive player has to make the play in left field that cost them the game.
One other note about Crawford though: did you notice on Evan Longoria’s walk-off home run that the edge of the left field fence in Tampa is lowered? It allowed the ball to just sneak over for a home run. Why is it lower? Jon Morosi points out that the Rays did that in 2007 to increase the chances of dramatic “over the wall” catches by, wait for it … yes, Carl Crawford. Amazing.
• I love Evan Longoria. I’ve been waiting for him to have these moments and it was awesome to see him hit the two home runs when his team needed it the most.
• This is just a partial list of what was cool last night because I have to go prep for the show. Feel free to add your favorite moment below!