So, um, yeah. Where do I begin? Did anyone else see that statistic on Fox Monday night that in the last 48 hours, the average sports fanatic had watched something like 4.5 hours of football, 17 hours of baseball, gotten 14 hours of sleep and had 12.5 hours of “other activities”? I’ve taken four statistics classes at Amherst in my four years, and I still have no clue how exactly to interpret those numbers. Is it anyone else’s dream life to be the guy who spent the other 12.5 hours playing 36 holes of golf? Fox really needed to be on the ball with some sort of interview with people on the street, asking them what they did during those “other” hours.
As you read this today, the Red Sox and Yankees are preparing for game seven. No need for the Red Sox to explain to the exhausted Boston media why their second straight ALCS defeat at the hands of the Yankees will make them hungrier for next year. No need to talk about “what if’s” or “if only’s”-at least until tomorrow. Not to sound like a flip-flopper, but I just don’t know how the Red Sox can keep this up. Red Sox Nation is exhausted, and we’re not even the ones playing in the games! There’s an old saying in sports that players should leave everything they have on the field. The Red Sox have done that … thrice! There’s only so much heart and desperation that a team can play with. The Red Sox must be on their ninth life, and they haven’t even played game seven yet. Physically they may be still strong, but this series must be taking its toll on them mentally and emotionally. It sure is on me!
But the season continues, at least for another night. Game seven looms even larger than last year’s game seven, if that’s even possible. So much rides on this one game, this one historic game between good and evil. Whether the Red Sox win or lose this game or the World Series, there will always be next year. But for Red Sox fans, next year means another year of waiting, another year of overanalyzing, another year of heartache and drama and tragedy. I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. In fact, I’m glad I don’t. After games four through six, I’ve realized two things: anything can happen in a short baseball series and life (and by life I mean baseball) is absolutely unpredictable.
The other series
While the country has been mesmerized by the Red Sox-Yankees series, another series has been just as exciting. The Astros, a team that finished the regular season winning 36 of their last 46 games, have become the new “cool” team to root for. If this doesn’t prompt cries of baseball’s racism, I don’t know what will. Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a look at headshots of Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and Lance Berkman. In the era of the Hispanic baseball player, the Astros have, with the exception of Carlos Beltran (a mid-season pickup) an entirely white nucleus. Think that their rise in popularity has anything to do with race? I’m not sure, but some people may think so.
Race aside, this series has been great. Carlos Beltran has emerged as a superstar, uncorking home run after home run, hit after hit and scoring run after run. This guy is a monster, a five-tool player capable of taking over a game. Playing in Kansas City, Beltran did not get much notoriety, but playing for a playoff team, he has finally gotten his credit and is proving to be someone with Hall Of Fame potential.
And how about Brad Lidge? This guy cannot be human. I can’t even describe in words how nasty his stuff is. Screw Eric Gagne, screw Mariano Rivera, screw John Smoltz. I want this guy to pitch the eighth and ninth innings of a one-run ballgame. What other pitcher throws a high 90s fastball and low 90s offspeed stuff? If I were Phil Garner, I’d be bringing Lidge in as soon as possible in every single game. Two outs in the sixth? Bring in Brad! One down in the seventh? Bring in Brad!
The Cardinals deserve some credit too. When people talk about late-season pickups, they mention Beltran first, but Larry Walker cannot be ignored. This is a potential Hall-of-Fame outfielder, a guy with career bests of .379/43/130. He’s a former MVP, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, a three-time batting champ and he’s led the league twice in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And he’s batting second in the Cardinals’ order! And that’s probably where he should be batting!
The Cardinals’ lineup is downright scary. But so is the Astros’. From top to bottom, the two National League teams probably have better statistical offenses than the Red Sox and Yankees, and yet no one is giving them any credit. Whoever wins the ALCS will have quite a difficult test in front of them-especially after a grueling seven game series with at least two extra-inning games.
With less than two weeks left in the MLB season, I must say, I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. If this is the year, great. But if not, at least at this time next year, I won’t have two papers and a test due on the days immediately following a Red Sox-Yankees ALCS. I guess that’s something to look forward to. Or to fear.