Saturday, October 29, 2011

My thoughts on the World Series

It’s too bad the World Series has to come at the end of the season. I bet more people are jacked up about baseball right this moment than at any time of the year. Oh well. If they can show a Batman trailer that essentially says “coming whenever we finish making it” they can expect us to wait until March before the next pitch is thrown in anger.

Of course I’m being facetious, but this was the World Series I never wanted to end. For sheer action, drama, suspense, improbable events, rainouts, anthem singers, heroics, miscues, triumph, and heartbreak I can’t think of another Fall Classic that comes close. And don’t tell me 1911 because I was at most of those games and with the exception of game five when Bonehead Merkle drove in Laughing Larry Doyle with the winning run in the 10th, this year’s Series was better.

The highlight (or lowlight if you’re a Rangers fan) was Game 6. 4 1/2 hours of the most riveting theater you’ll ever see (or -- if you were lucky enough to be tuned in to Rangers’ broadcaster Eric Nadel -- ever hear). Texas blew the lead five times and twice was within one tantalizing strike of winning the World’s Championship. Even if you’re a diehard Cardinal fan your heart has to go out to them. To come so very close only to suffer such a catastrophic end. I feel for those players. I also feel for the poor clubhouse attendants in the Texas locker room. Can you imagine? Game 6 -- they had the champagne all ready, the plastic over the lockers. Suddenly Freese hits that walkoff homer in the 11th and they’re like, “Uh oh. We got two minutes to get all this shit outta here!”

On the other hand, the Cardinals played like champions, and have been playing like champions since the end of August. I’ve always believed that if a Wild Card team gets into the World Series they should be favored because they’re so used to pressure games and fighting and clawing that they go into the competition with a real head of steam. They knocked off the heavily favored Phillies, the tough Brewers, and powerhouse Rangers. Forget their regular season record – they deserved this championship trophy.

Some random thoughts:
It was a shame that more people in the East didn’t see Game 6 live because it was on so late. How is baseball going to capture the next generation of kids if their most exciting games conclude four hours after their bedtime?

From my time calling games in the National League, Cardinal fans are among the very best in baseball. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and respectful. Somehow they manage to create a real comfortable family atmosphere in a ballpark where more Budweiser is served than any place in America.

Ranger fans are also great. When I did a Mariners-Rangers series in early August it was 104 degrees at game time every night, and still 40,000 people came out to see them. Even Bush showed up (once but still…).

Maybe now the Cardinals can afford Albert Pujols.

The last day of the regular season was pretty spectacular too.  

If you’re rooting for a team based on their manager, you have to root for Texas.

I thought it was a brilliant homage to his father when Joe Buck called the game-winning home run in Game 6 the same way his dad did in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. “We will see you tomorrow night.” Very classy, Joe. 

Everyone today talks about what a classic call that was by Jack Buck. They forget that CBS fired him right after that World Series.

Without the rainout before Game 6, Carpenter doesn't pitch in Game 7.  I'm just sayin'.  

You can’t allow two runs in Game 7 by walking a batter and hitting a batter with the bases loaded.

Had the Rangers won the World Series on Friday night there's a slight chance their story would be on the front page of the Dallas sports sections.  After all, it is high school football and Cowboys season.

From comedy writer Danny Zuker:  When you think about it the World Series is like the Superbowl of baseball.

From truebluela blogger Eric Stephens:  Overheard in some small African village next week: "World Series Champions Rangers t-shirts, AGAIN? Ugh"

Ohmygod!  The All-Star Game really did count. 

The final score of the now-classic Game 6 was 10-9. The score of the classic Mazeroski Game 7 of the 1960 World Series where the Pirates defeated the Yankees – 10-9.

At least for the Rangers there was no one Bill Buckner.

I miss Jon Miller on the radio.

The last team to win a Game 7 of the World Series was the 2002 Angels. And they too had to come from behind in a thrilling Game 6 to avoid elimination.  Does anybody remember that?   Sure but you all remember Bonehead Merkle. 

I still say Texas in six – just not this year.

116 days until pitchers and catcher report.  I can't wait.

36 comments:

jwj170104 said...

As a Ranger fan, I'm still feeling the pain of seeing the team get to within one strike (twice) of winning the world series. Hate it for the team, Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington. Oh well, it was a heck of a playoff run. Thanks for your comments.

DyHrdMET said...

a baseball post is a good place for me to ask these next two questions...

1) are you going to be returning the Mariners (or any other baseball team) next season or any other time in the future?

2) in your days with the Dodgers, did you ever travel down to the old Dodgertown Spring Training complex in Vero Beach? I'm a Mets fan who's gone down to Florida for Spring Training and absolutely loved going to Dodgertown (until it was cruely taken from me in 2008). Do you have any good stories? Are you going to wait until March to share them when it's more time-appropriate?

Billy said...

Being in the UK, didn't see a pitch of the series but I think it's a joke that the home field was awarded by an exhibition game.

Anonymous said...

As a life long baseball fan and, by simple coincidence of my birth, a Cardinal fan, thanks for the kind words. Maybe more fans will be brought into the cult after this World Series. AMAZING!!! #11 in '11!

It is bittersweet. When it is the Yankees or Red Sox, its easy to hate the opposition and forget about them. But I have become a Rangers fan over the course of the World Series. Ron Washington is a great manager and class guy. The Rangers are a good team and they will be back in the thick of it next year. Whether St. Louis will is a good question.

Love your posts on baseball. Shame Seattle didn't come to St. Louis this season. Now maybe we can shoot that damn squirrel.

Pam aka SisterZip

Mary Stella said...

It was a shame that more people in the East didn’t see Game 6 live because it was on so late. How is baseball going to capture the next generation of kids if their most exciting games conclude four hours after their bedtime?

I stayed up for the entire game, and I'm not even a Cards fan. I figured if they managed to beat my Phillies, they deserved support. Game 6 was one of the most exciting games ever.

Anyone who still thinks baseball is a boring sport is crazy and plain wrong.

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Michael said...

Ken, Joe Buck has used that line before--not that I object to it, because I know it's a good and loving tribute. But I couldn't help but think, when Freese hit the ball off the wall, that he could have done something close to Red Barber in the 1947 World Series--"He can't get it! It's off the wall! Heah comes the tying run!"

I also miss Jon Miller on the radio, and having TWO color commentators for a baseball radiocast just does not work. When Miller was saddled with two color men on TV, only one of them did the series with him on radio.

And you may or may not realize it, but your last line was a homage of sorts. Every season, Vin and Jerry would discuss the past year on the final post-game show. Then Vin would ask if Jerry had anything to say in signing off and Doggett would say something like, "How long until spring training?" Amen to that.

Please Leave Name said...

So, the big question is now that the cardinals have won the Series will Fox fire Joe Buck (like CBS did to daddy Jack)?

One can hope.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Now there's a sport I really try to enjoy, but never really grasp the complexity of it. So many rules, it makes my head spin.

To me, you either hit the ball or you don't. If it hits, you run around the field before it comes back. Simple and fun. Why build such an enormous set of contradictory rules around it?

DanTedson said...

I’ve always believed that if a Wild Card team gets into the World Series they should be favored because they’re so used to pressure games and fighting and clawing that they go into the competition with a real head of steam."

Plus, with so many more teams competing for the spot, the winner of the Wild Card is usually the team that gets hot. And the hot team is the team that wins in the playoffs.

"And don’t tell me 1911 because I was at most of those games and with the exception of game five when Bonehead Merkle drove in Laughing Larry Doyle with the winning run in the 10th, this year’s Series was better."

I love the old baseball nicknames. They were always juxtaposed with the person themself. Laughing Larry was one of the most sullen men you'd ever want to meet, and Bonehead Merkle was gelatinous.

selection7 said...

I'm not complaining about the ump, but I just think it's fascinating that had that low and away pitch been called a strike, the two runs off of a walk and a hit-by-pitch would've never happened and it becomes a whole different ballgame. Nevertheless, the Rangers only scored two points. That's not good enough.

Strong objection said...

Joe Buck's "We'll see you tomorrow night" ripoff wasn't a wonderful homage. It was corny, forced hackery. It's not even the first time that Buck has rehashed the line.

Jack Buck's original announcing was an authentic response to the moment. Junior's callback was a preplanned "reaction" that simultaneously diverted attention to himself and diminished the uniqueness of the game at hand.

Who wants to hear Julian Lennon sing "Imagine"?

Paul said...

Strong Objection said it best above. Joe Buck's retread of his father's call makes him a hack. Everyone in Minnesota is royally pissed at him for it. It diminishes the legend of the 1991 series (which, IMHO, was still better than this one) and takes away from the uniqueness that this current series badly deserves.

gottacook said...

I lived in Minneapolis when the Twins won in the 7th game, both times at home of course, in 1987 and 1991. In '91 after the win, the whole city went downtown (a few blocks from the Metrodome) and high-fived each other. (This was immediately before the famous Halloween snowstorm that year.)

My question is: when teams win the Series in the 7th game, how much of the victory can be attributed to home-team crowd advantage? Of the seven-game Series in recent decades, have most of the 7th games been at home for the victorious team? All I have to go on is 1987, 1991, and last night.

As for "We'll see you tomorrow night": I had no idea about its history (although I'm sure I saw the 6th game on TV in 1991) and therefore it sounded fine to me.

mfahearn said...

The All-Star game was sort of irrelevant, in a way. If the old system of alternating leagues was still being used, I think this would have been the National League's year to have homefield advantage.

tb said...

Game six made me a fan again, after just about giving up on baseball. I'd (almost)forgotten how dramatic things can get. Fantastic

xjill said...

Ken, you mentioned "anthem singers" and at the bar last night some of the people around me were commenting that one of the national anthems had been their favorite ever. Which game and what singer was this anthem??

You talk about the games running so late on the East Coast but how about when there's not a West Coast team they start when we're still at work? I didn't see the first 2 innings of a single game!

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and read it every day, but I couldn't disagree with you, and all of official baseball, more about the World Series.

The obvious and overwhelming story of the series was the way in which Texas threw up all over itself.

Not a single distinguished pitching performance. Endless official errors and many more poor plays not technically errors. Runs given up in more than one game on walks and hit batters. 16 runs, a full frontal blow out, allowed in game 3. A rather weak effort against a great but short rest pitcher in game 7 (who Philly pummelled in similar circumstances).

There was only one genuinely decent Texas showing in the four games won by the Cardinals.

And game 6? The eternal classic? Go watch high school games for great back and forth drama. I watch professional athletes to see the very best in the world perform. Game 6 was a farce on those terms. Both teams played badly. The stage was obviously too big for many of them, and a couple of the Texas relivers looked downright scared in close up on camera.

Texas had already given up a lead in that game four times, what was so surprising or exciting about seeing them do it yet again?

Finally, the huge superstar of the series goes one (or was it two?)for six of the seven games, only allowing the hype machine to keep him afloat with a, now seen in context, bizarre game 3.

And how charming was it to thrice see Albert coming back to the dugout after a home run, only to be prominently congratulated on the front step, in glorious two shot, by Mark McGuire? Just so there is no forgetting how deeply dishonest this generation of baseball's leadership has been.

DwWashburn said...

Cardinal fan since '66. Although I hate the wild card, I'm still happy about the Cards winning.

But I do think the WS win cements Albert's leaving. He now has two rings. The only thing he doesn't have is $40 million a year, an amount that the Cardinals' front office is refusing to pay. I think King Albert will be playing in the AL next season unless the Nationals pull another surprise.

And I can't blame him. I've taken quite a few jobs in my professional career simply because they paid more.

Rory W. said...

I also feel for the poor clubhouse attendants in the Texas locker room. Can you imagine? Game 6 -- they had the champagne all ready, the plastic over the lockers. Suddenly Freese hits that walkoff homer in the 11th and they’re like, "Uh oh. We got two minutes to get all this shit outta here!"

Three words: 1997. Jose. Mesa.

It still hurts.

Roger Owen Green said...

1. You don't put the champagne tarp up before the game is won.
2. Forget kids. *I* can't stay up on a weeknight until after midnight. I do so wish the games could start earlier.
3. Will folks lay off poor Fred Merkle, who had a solid career, but made one blunder that defined him for others.

DanTedson said...

"Will folks lay off poor Fred Merkle..."

Too soon?

The Merry said...

And don’t tell me 1911 because I was at most of those games
Really? You're over 100 years old? Sounding pretty spry, I must say.

Michael said...

By the way, Fred Merkle was widely considered one of the smartest players in baseball in his time, and John McGraw, his manager for many years, including when he was the rookie who made the bonehead play, would ask for his opinions. That's John McGraw, who used to punch umpires and wasn't thrown out of baseball for it, but instead the umpires were fired.

Sue said...

Great post ken! Love all the comments too. As for game 6 it was the worst of games and the best of games all in one. I watched all 4 hours and 33 minutes of it. That is what baseball is all about, their up, their down, an incredible catch is made, a very catchable ball is not caught, the ump misses a call and then the other team gets a bad call, and why in the world did what's his name decide to steal a base when it was so easy to tag him out??? Gotta love it. Now it is the black hole of Football until February. Ugh!! Although after all the trading that will most likely happen it will be interesting to see who will be in what uniform in April.

Sue said...

PS On this very blog I predicted the Cards in 7 and for the very first time in my life I was right.

Breadbaker said...

When you think about it, the World Series is like the World Series of Poker of baseball.

Cap'n Bob said...

Despite the sandlot play and the big choke by Texas, I enjoyed the series more than I thought I would. But...
...Am I the only one who wanted to throw a brick at my TV every time Tim McCarver opened his mouth? He's the living embodiment of the word "fatuous."

Wallis Lane said...

"At least for the Rangers there was no one Bill Buckner."

I'd argue that it was Nelson Cruz. I'm surprised that more fuss hasn't been made about Cruz half-assing and completely botching a fly ball that any halfway competent outfielder would have put in his back pocket, especially given that he was already playing as a deep as I'd ever seen an outfielder play. If Ron Washington puts Esteban German in for the 9th instead of the 10th, there would have been one hell of a parade in Arlington come tomorrow.

And, man, if you have to rely on Darren Oliver to close out a World Series, you've seriously overused your bullpen. All Oliver had to do was retire two scrubs and a pitcher, and well, you know the rest.

Oh, and best wishes to the ghost of Fred Merkle. Poor kid, ran to the clubhouse instead of second base, like every other batter did in that situtation from the 1880's on.

Anonymous said...

Get over Jon Miller. He's a self-absorbed gasbag who thinks he's more important than the game, and he blew the national gigs because of that. He's working in San Francisco, the only place where people applaud Barry Bonds.

Michael said...

Anonymous, kind of interesting that you don't sign your name. Miller really "blew" that national gig. He only had it for 21 seasons and got into the broadcasters wing of the Hall of Fame.

Anonymous said...

My fellow anonymous commenter, the one who idiotically suggested that Jon Miller was a self-important gasbag, clearly exists solely for the purpose of being completely and unequivocally wrong about everything. In this regard, he actually does serve a purpose---I would imagine in his day to day life, he is an invaluable resource for those unfortunate enough to interact with him. They need only ask this silly tit where he stands on a particular issue, recognize that stance as being clearly a sign of jaw-dropping idiocy, and instantly they know which side of the fence they ought to be on....the other side, obviously. This tool says white? You can be safely assured that black is the correct answer.

Dissing Jon Miller...Jesus wept. Not since Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane waving a piece of paper and declaring that there would be peace in our time has anyone been as utterly and comprehensively wrong as you are now. Tell me: what color is the sky in your world?

Buttermilk Sky said...

Clearly Ron Washington is an excellent manager, but his cheerleading after every Texas hit gets a little tiresome. Fox keeps the camera on him as if he's going to take off his cap and have a bird fly out. This is the World Series. As Paul Brown used to tell his players, "When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before."

Anonymous said...

>>>Miller really "blew" that national gig. He only had it for 21 seasons and got into the broadcasters wing of the Hall of Fame.<<<

Yes, he blew it. He had it and they removed his large ego and put someone else on the job. Miller used to be good. He's not now. He's too wrapped up in himself. The Hall of Fame award, with few exceptions, has become a longevity award. Do you actually think Milo Hamilton (1992 winner) is good?

Thom Bray said...

Game six was the greatest series game I"ve ever seen.

Search for Roger Angell's scorecard of the game--it will make you happy!

HogsAteMySister said...

Nice piece, but you are wrong about football season totally eclipsing baseball nowadays in Dallas. Sigh. You can thank Jerry Jones for that. Get a rope.