Friday, October 28, 2011

Trauma Drama

The last few days I've learned that several of my Facebook friends are diehard Cardinals fans. As a firm believer in "the jinx" I don't quite understand posting about the game while it is still being played. It's not something I would do if the Yankees were in the World Series. Afterward, sure, but during you're tempting fate. Perhaps one lure of sports fandom is that you can blaspheme horribly without the guilty feeling. Surely another lure is that there is a possibility of witnessing a seeming miracle. Last night's game provides a case in point.

I'm really posting here, because of the comparison in the piece linked below between the game yesterday and the Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, which though my Yankees weren't in it was the best World Series I've seen as a fan. People tend to remember the wrong things. The way the game ended is forever in our consciousness, so we get to see replay after replay of the Pudge Fisk home run. The drama is created, however, by what leads up to the ending.

In 1975 the Big Red Machine was clearly the best team in baseball. Their lineup was loaded with talent. Measured by the position players only, they were much better than the Red Sox. But the Red Sox had El Tiante, the dragonslayer. He pitched with bravado. He pitched with guile. In games one and four he was able to slay the dragon, with complete game victories. Because of bad weather game six was delayed enough so that Tiant started that game too.  He pitched into the eighth inning, keeping it close.  The drama of Fisk's home run was created because the Red Sox hung in there without Tiant in the game.

Nothing comparable is going on this time around.   From my vantage, the teams are pretty even.   There is no David and Goliath story here.  Some of the play was sloppy last night.  My impression is that result is because both teams are worn down,  The post season is too long (or the regular season is too long).  While we've seen the players rise to the occasion in some instances, we've also seen them not perform adequately in other cases.  The biggest question is whether the pitching will hold up.   In last night's game, it didn't.  

The back and forth last night made the game a thriller.  And I will watch tonight before drawing a firm conclusion about this series.  I hope to see a well played game, the stakes motivating the players to produce their top-level performance.  But I won't be surprised if it looks more like keystone cops, because both teams have run out of bullets.

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