Drama that you can’t script
It has taken a day and a half to recover from the swan song of Major League Baseball‘s regular season, and I pity those of you who dared watch anything else on Wednesday night. Real life drama will always trump scripted drama, and that night provided more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie marathon. Also these twists didn’t suck entirely like every Shyamalan flick post Sixth Sense (I guess they sucked if you were from “Bahston”).
Going into the night, the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays were tied for the AL wildcard spot. The Red Sox had been 9 games up on Tampa coming into September and a loss tonight (with a Rays win) would spell the largest collapse in Major League Baseball history. Tampa was playing the first place New York Yankees while the Red Sox were matched up with perennial basement dwellers, the (lowly) Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees roared out to a quick 7-0 lead powered by 2 home runs (one of which was a grand slam) by Mark Teixeira off Rays ace David Price. At the same time, the Red Sox had scratched out a late 3-2 lead over the Orioles, sparked by a solo jack from former MVP Dustin Pedroia.
In the 8th inning the Rays remembered there was baseball today and roared back into the game with 6 runs including a 3 run dinger from 3rd baseman Evan Longoria. In the bottom of the 9th, Pinch hitter Dan Johnson deposited a 2-2 pitch into the seats to force extra innings. They were one strike away from losing their season, Johnson had given them hope.
While the Rays had clawed their way back, the Red Sox were mired in a rain delay, clinging to a one run lead. The Bottom of the ninth started with Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon mowing down the first 2 batters he faced before giving up a two strike double to Chris Davis followed by a game tying double to Nolan Reimold. Papelbon had blown the save; it was now time to concentrate on not blowing the season. The next batter—Robert Andino—hit a flare towards Left fielder Carl Crawford. Before the season, Crawford had spurned the Rays in order to sign a lucrative deal with the Red Sox. The deal all but came with a giant Scrooge McDuck sized vault that Crawford would use for the purposes of swimming, or at least lounging on an inflatable dollar sign. Crawford slid but could not come up with the baseball (a catch an all-star has to make) and Reimold scored from 2nd. The Orioles (probably insulted that everyone kept calling the “lowly”) played the ultimate spoiler. The Red Sox season was in jeopardy. Sweat started pouring from the brows of every Red Sox fan in Patrick Ewing-esque fashion.
Mere minutes after the Red Sox loss, Evan Longoria stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 12th and laced a walk off shot to clinch the American League Wild Card spot, the impossible had become possible. Boston was out, Tampa was in.
That night provided more drama than any sports movie ever produced by Hollywood, and should help eliminate the “boring” stigma that plagues baseball with the casual sports fan. No screenwriter could ever produce something so perfect, so dramatic. If you didn’t enjoy the last night of the regular season, you have no soul (Or are from the greater Boston area…or from Atlanta I suppose).
*The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals came into the final game tied for a playoff spot too, but their games did not feature near the theatrics of the Red Sox/Rays battle.*
*Also Dan Johnson’s tying home run totally hit a fan in the groin*