Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Off-Topic: The Greatest Game Of All

I know this might scare a few comic fans, but stay with me: if you don't believe that sports is every bit as filled with irrational love, hate, fear, and desire as comic fandom, then you've never been a sports fan.

That said, I dearly love the NFL --- football is a great cathartic analytical sport, and no one cheers as loudly for my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers (yes, I even own the tangerine replica jersey with my name on it, as well as a helmet with the old-school Gay Winking Pirate) as I do.

But baseball is my first love, and always will be.

Steroids? Don't much care. Labor strikes? I'll always come back, even if you did cancel the 1994 World Series. Cancelling the greatest All-Star game of all time? Eh, it was exhibition anyway.

My point is that nothing --- nothing --- can keep me from relishing the renewal of spring training, dogging out the hot days of summer, and devotedly following the crunch time in September. Baseball is awesome.

And I just watched the second-greatest game of my lifetime. But first, numbers (1) and (3) on that particular list.

1) This will always be the Mike Scott no-hitter on Sept. 25. 1986. I was 10 years old, and it was my first professional baseball game. I lived in Houston, and the Astros faced the San Francisco Giants in the Astrodome. I remember being awed by the size of the place --- and to see my team, my team --- win, and to see Mike refusing to give up a hit in that game --- well, you could say that was when I really started to love baseball. Because I swear my heart has never beat faster than waiting on that final out, after 9 2/3 innings, and to see Will Clark (Will Clark!) , Giants mainstay ground out to Glenn Davis to give my team the division title in a no hitter, nearly gave me a heart attack at age 10. That's when I knew I loved this game.

3) Fast-forward to 2005. My Astros are playing the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS, and it lasts 18 friggin' innings. Roger Clemens (Roger Clemens!) comes into the game in the 15th as a relief pitcher (a relief pitcher!) to try and seal the deal and send us to the NLCS. Finally in the dying throes of the 18th (18th!) inning, just as I turn to my wife and say, "That's it, I don't think our guys have anything left in the tank", 25-year-old Chris Burke, a no-name brought in as a pinch runner in the 10th, smacks a home run that must have landed somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. After nearly 6 (6!) hours, we had won.

And now, this.

The San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies played a 1-game playoff to determine the winner of the NL wild card this year.

13 innings.

The all-time best closer in all of baseball.

A come-from-behind victory.

The winning run scored on that most noblest of hits, the sacrifice.

The Padres had scored taken a 2 run lead in the top of the 13th inning to surely salt away the victory --- things didn't just look bleak, they looked over for the Rockies.

And then?

And then Matt Holliday hits a triple, driving in a man to tie the game.

All-time saves record holder Trevor Hoffman blowing the save in the biggest game of his career? Does. Not. Happen.

But tonight it did. Who-dat Jamey Carroll hits a short fly ball to right field and Holliday scores the winning run, digging the Rockies out of an impossible hole. And just like that, the Padres season is over, and the Rockies' season has just begun.

Watching the players from both teams during and afterwards the game, I was reminded why I love baseball. It's the only game where you can see the players thinking, fearing, hoping, sweating, building the unbearable tension from the minute the pitcher throws the ball to the minute the play is over, and the sheer release of joy and despair is evident on every players' face, and I think: they won. Or they lost. And I feel drained from having just been a witness.

So, yeah. I love baseball, and nothing --- nothing --- is ever going to change that.

And here's to you, Rockies. Thanks for an evening I'll never forget.



Blogger Matthew said...

I really couldn't agree with you more. I share both your comic and baseball fanaticism. What a beautiful game last night... and as a true blue Dodgers fan, I have no love for either team. There is almost nothing more inherently dramatic than a pitcher and batter facing off with everything on the line.

I may not be the greatest game of all time, but Kirk Gibson's "shot heard 'round the world" in the '88 World Series is my most memorable "moment" of all time. Pinch hitting with a gimpy knee and hamstring, while trailing by one run with a man on base... Gibson muscles a home run over the right-filed fence off one of the greatest closers of all time -- Dennis Eckersley. (Dennis Eckersley!)

My 14-year old self went bonkers. And Vin Scully's call still gives me chills to this day.

And it's the same type of chill I get when watching Johnny Cloud pop the pins on his grenades and dive into the mouth of the T-Rex in Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier. Ah baseball and comics... how I love thee!

11:09 AM  
Blogger Cinephile said...

Couldn't agree more about sports and comics (I cheer for the Cleveland Browns, so I'm even more abject in my fandom than a Bucs fan-- I mean, at least you guys won a super bowl (:). I missed last night's game, but caught the highlights on SportsCenter today-- really great stuff. My team, the Tigers, has been knocked out, so I guess this forces me to cheer for an Indians-Cubs matchup (which, as I think about it, would be awesome).

12:43 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Wait a second, this isn't about hockey?

5:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been ages since i posted here. Been sick, busy etc. There are not many games left this season. It has had it's up's and down's. Meet some new Reds i adore. Meet David Ross again. Knew of him when was a Dodger. Missed Sean Casey a lot. Reds then got rid of Austin Kerns. Seen the Reds 9 times this year at Busch Stadium. Saw the Phillies 3 times. Seen The Astros 3 times. Gonna see the Astros for my 4th time September 13th. Gonna go to games in 2 weeks to see Brian Giles.No idea who will make the playoffs.First Choice Reds. Second Choice Phillies. 3RD Astros. 4TH Choice Padres. Padres just because of Brian Giles, Geoff Blum and Trevor Hoffmann. I hope to at least attend one playoff game. But if the Cards don't make it won't go to any. Because i can't afford to travel. But if i had to choose. I'd rather the Reds win the Central and just have to watch them on tv.Seeing them on tv would be better than them not making the playoffs at all.
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12:32 PM  

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