Three minutes. That’s how long it was between the dramatic moment that clutch Baltimore Oriole hitter Robert Andino drove in Nolan Reimold from second base, bringing about the victory of the Baltimore Orioles over the hapless Boston Red Sox, and the dramatic moment just seconds later that Evan Longorio hit a home run to push the Tampa Bay Rays to victory over the New York Yankees. In that small interval, the Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs and Tampa Bay secured their spot in the post season.
Let’s recap. On September 3, the Rays were down nine games in the wild card chase to the Red Sox. The Red Sox then proceeded to plumb previously unexplored depths of futility during the month of September. And Tampa Bay found ways to win, to bring their wild card chase with the Red Sox to an absolute dead heat going into last night’s games.
As if that were not enough, the Rays were down by seven runs in the eighth inning last night in their last game of the regular season, in a must-win game against the Yankees. The Rays scored six runs in the eighth inning, to bring the game to 7-6. But in the bottom of the ninth, when the Rays were down to their absolute last strike, pinch hitter Dan Johnson smacked a game-tying home run, sending the games into extra innings. And then in the bottom of the 12h inning, Evan Longoria (who had hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning) pulled a fastball over the short porch in left field to win the game for the Rays.
The Red Sox, at least theoretically, should have been in position to force an extra playoff game, despite the Rays’ victory. After all, the Red Sox were winning their game against the Orioles last night by a score of 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the Ninth Inning. Even if Tampa Bay won their game against the Yanks, Boston should have been in a position to live to see another day, as long as they held on to their 3-2 lead. Alas, it was not meant to be. Moments before Longoria’s dramatic walk-off home run, and when the Baltimore Orioles were down to their last out in the bottom of the Ninth inning and were trailing 3-2 and facing Boston closer extraordinaire Jonathan Papelbon, the Orioles came back to tie and then to win the game.
With all due apologies to my friends in the Red Sox Nation, if you are a baseball fan with a pulse, this was one of the most exciting baseball evenings of all times. The ESPN Sportscenter guys were at a loss for words, and that is saying something. I should have gone to bed hours ago, and here I am blogging about absolutely astonishing post-Midnight baseball that I absolutely should not have been awake to see. After all, I have a blog, I have a job, I have responsibilities – why in the world did I keep watching? Because It was great, it was great, it was awesome, that’s why, and I suspect squadrons of (baseball fan) readers did too. Wasn’t it awesome? Well, yes, it was awesome.
I mean no disrespect to anyone, but for those of us who root for small market teams, this is about as good as it possibly can get. A massive payroll team goes down in flames, while a small market team overcomes adversity (and beats the Yankees! How great is that!) to knock an arrogant, smug big market team (again, all due apologies to Boston fans) out of the post-season. (Just as an aside, how did Boston, of all teams, with all of the Curse of the Bambino stuff, become so arrogant? I don’t know, but they managed to do it.) Hooray for the Rays, Hooray for the Orioles.
The vast majority of baseball fans, owing to the fact that there are so freaking many of them living in big cities on the Eastern Seaboard, thought last year’s World Series was an abomination. Too bad for all of the East Coast elitists—if what you care about is baseball it was a GREAT World Series. I love baseball, and I loved every game of last year’s World Series. And I have a feeling I am going to love this year’s World Series too.
So with all due respect to all of those people that think it isn’t real baseball unless one of the Big Market East Coast teams makes it into the World Series, I just want to go on record by saying that a Detroit Tigers/ Milwaukee Brewers series would be an awesome contest between two very well matched teams. Small market teams rule, Big Market teams drool (and Big Market teams are so obnoxiously arrogant that every right- thinking person everywhere is rooting strenuously against them.)
And by the way, the single greatest artistic creation of the Twentieth Century was the musical, “Damn Yankees,” based as it was on the premise that the Washington Senators should win the World Series – and the Yankees should not.