Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Greatest Night in Televised Baseball History? Without A Doubt!
No, not Hell, but Major League Baseball, threw a wrench in my plans....
The Greatest Night in MLB History(at least as far as television....
The Red Sox and Braves both had opportunities to avoid MLB History....that history could see both teams perform two of the greatest chokes in Baseball History....and both failed, right in front of the audience and a series of televised games that, if you are a baseball fan like me, had your TV Remotes smoking...ESPN, ESPN 2, and the MLB Network, were the scenes of some of the most dramatic downfalls and games pulled out of the fire that you can imagine.
Both Boston and Atlanta, just a few days ago, seemed to have the Wild Card spots locked up in their leagues. Boston led Tampa Bay by 8 1/2 games in early September, while the Braves had a similar lead over St. Louis as the final couple of weeke approached. It seemed to be over, the division races had been decided, and the Wild Cards seemed secure for the Sox and Atlanta....but not so fast....
I was a kid of 15 back in 1964, when the Philadelphia Phillies made what seemed an impossible collupse. Leading the Reds and Cards by 5 and 6 games with just 8 left, the Phils proceeded to be overtaken, first by the Reds, who then gave it away to St. Louis. A few years ago, Colorado won 14 of their last 15 to overtake Arizona and San Diego, to win the West, that however was more of the Rockies winning, than the rest gagging.....this year it was an amazing combination of both, and it was played out in the late night and early morning hours of last night and this morning.
First off, in the one blow-out of the night, St. Louis dispatched Houston behind Chris Carpenter's 2 hit shutout, 8-0....the other three games were the stuff of legends.
Here are the contenders in the National League Playoffs:
Tampa Bay now tied with Boston fell behind the Yankees(already clinched and in) 7-0 after the second inning, it seemed they would need a Red Sox lost to force a one game playoff...however Evan Longoria and Dan Johnson would not let the Rays go quietly. Longoria hit a 3 run homer in the six run 8th to cut the lead to 7-6, then with 2 outs in the 9th and Tampa Bay down to their last strike, Johnson rocked one into the right field bleachers, tying the game...Longoria finished off the Yankees, and as it turned out, the Red Sox, with another home run, this one a walk off winner in the 12th, 8-7 was the final.
Meanwhile Boston, leading 3-2 with 2 out and nobody on, and their closer Jonathon Pappleton on the mound, seemed ready to at least force that one game playoff....the lowly Orioles had other thoughts...two doubles and a single later, the Red Sox had lost, and seconds later would watch the Rays take the Wild Card spot.
Over in the National League aka "Senior Circuit", the Braves jumped out 3-1 over the Phillies, who really had nothing to play for. Philadelphia had long ago clinched the East and the best record in the NL, for the home field advantage....but Charlie Manuel's club played it straight...tying the game in the 9th, then plating the go ahead and winning run, to knock the Braves out...9 games up on St. Louis on September 2nd....less than 4 weeks later, it was gone, and so were the Braves. Atlanta had numerous scoring opportunities, where they left men on base.
What a night, what TV Drama...sure it's only baseball, not real life...but it doesn't get much better than what happened last night, if you are a baseball fan....and heck, none of these teams are my Reds...although I do root for Tampa Bay in the AL, and could enjoy them or their opponent in the first round, Texas, winning it all. Regardless, this was a fitting end to the regular season, and I am ready for the playoffs, which begin tomorrow, with the Rays at Texas at 5pm EDT.
For all of the reviews and previews go here:
The American League Playoff Teams: