Upon further review of the baseball regular season that just ended, I have seen a few things that make me wonder if this has been one of the most exciting seasons in recent past.
I could easily refer to the fact the the Cubs, my team, made it to the playoffs, but that would not be anywhere near enough. Really. As thrilled as I am, I’ll always state that I am a baseball fan, regardless of how the Cubs perform. Which is why I have been able to not be blind to the many great things that have happened this year. Let’s review:
The Yankees, left for dead a mere three months ago, ran roughshod over the American League the last eight weeks of the season, nearly ran down the Red Sox and, of course, made it to the post season. That probably raises the ire of most "parity" driven fans. Me too, to some extent. With that being said, how amazing is it that this team rattled off a near .700 winning percentage over that time? Under that scrutiny? With mostly home grown talent? Say what you will, they did it the hard way and they deserve to be there.
Barry Bonds and his last hurrah. Cheater, loser, asterisk, blah, blah, blah. He stood up at the plate for almost two full decades and took his hacks. He still had to swing the bat, hit the ball and play the field every day. Label him what you will, disagree with me, I don’t care. Barry played the game for that long, under a microscope for the last half decade and still broke Hank’s record. Besides, how many pitchers actually got caught "post-cheating" at the same time? Barry didn’t? Until I see conclusive evidence, I’ll see his record for what it is…his record.
A-Rod. Holy ****. The guy carried New York. Enough said. Here’s to bringing him to the North Side next year…
The Cleveland Indians. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Tribe. I think it was either because I played Little League for the Indians or because of the movie Major League. Whatever the reason, Mark Shapiro is a genius, and hs system of management from the top proved to be a winner. Remember the fire sale they had a few years back? Yeah, me neither. I’m pulling for them in the AL playoffs.
The Brew Crew. I was happy to see the Brewers in the hunt up until game 160. Really, not kidding. If I hadn’t been such a Cubs fan, or if the Cubs had bowed out, I’d have been wearing my Brewers hat and a Ben Ogilvie jersey the entire time. Twenty-five years, Milwaukee. I feel for you, those days of Ted Simmons, Cecil Cooper, Robin Yount. Be proud of this years team. Fielder, Braun, Sheets and crew are something to behold…for many years to come.
(Short story. I saw a Brewers game a few years back at County Stadium, the last season there, I believe, and had the time of my life. Tailgating in the parking lot, beer flowing everywhere, Secret Stadium Sauce. I really felt like Milwaukee was an awesome town, they love their baseball, and I still think that way. When Jeromy Burnitz hit a long bomb to win the game in the ninth, the place went crazy. One of my fondest Big League game memories…I hope next year brings more of the same Milwaukee. I’ll even partake with you. Against someone other than the Cubs, of course.)
The collapse of the Mets. The rise of the Phillies. However you want to look at it, it’s the very reason why you play 162 games in a season, and the win on April 7th matters just as much as the one on September 30th. Don’t believe me? Ask New York.
Game 163. Tonight. Padres v. Rockies. Has there ever been a chase like this? Down to the wire amongst six teams or so? Two last until after the season officially ends? See above…every game matters. Especially those played in extra time.
I could probably go on and on. There was a ton of remarkable, memorable things that happened this season. Curtis Granderson’s 20 x 4 feat (20 stolen bases, 20 Home Runs, 20 doubles and 20 triples) and emergence as a perennial All-Star, Magglio Ordonez’ magical season at the plate, and that’s just in my home state of Michigan. There’s more…lots more.
So, now we head to perhaps my favorite time, as well as my most depressing time, of the baseball season. The playoffs. Favorite in the sense that this is always what it boils down to. Cool weather, crazy crowds, every pitch mattering. Man, I love that. Depressing in the sense that there is but one month left of baseball left. Then it’s winter.
And winter stinks.