Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Round for the Whiz-Bang Gang from Uptown

Within one week of the end of baseball's marathon regular season, lights had been dimmed and organs wrapped for the long winter's nap at the home ballparks of a trio of teams who had been included among the original octet invited to the post-season. And on the eighth day, a fourth team's home environs joined the list of quiet places.

The early departures of the Cardinals of Saint Louis and the Red Sox of Boston - if for no other reason than both teams ended up going out without winning a single game in its first round series - seemed to surprise most baseball insiders. The early jump on deer season (or whatever the hell it is people in Minnesota do when they are not inside a climate-controlled stadium in early fall watching baseball) for the Twins was not so much so, given that they had earned their ticket on "T +1" day by winning the 163rd game of their regular season against the Tigers and because the "reward" for their hard work was a date with the Yankees.

Baseball is both a great game and a maddeningly heartbreaking game to watch principally because the issue is neither joined nor settled in the best guesses dressed in the trappings of expert prognostication one finds in newspapers and on-line columns. Rather, it is joined and settled between the white lines. And while it is a game played by men who are the best in the world at what they do, it is still played, after all, only by men. We the people are a fiercely proud species and in the theatre of our mind's eye perhaps we never blink and we never fail. However, in the documentary that is our real life, sometimes we come up a bit short. To err is human after all. To do it in front of thousands of paying customers with countless more watching on television - while perhaps inevitable given the limits of our biology - makes the one who erred want to book passage on Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet. Even when the one who did so is one who has previously soared to dizzying heights; perhaps especially so. For those who fell short this year, there is always next year. However, in the immediate aftermath of disappointment is there anything that seems further away than a shot at redemption?

As a Yankees fan I am pleased that they have won all of their games to date. I am also a realist. No credit shall be given in the next round for that which happened in the last one. Do not take my word for it - ask Alex Rodriguez. Lost in the aftermath of his extraordinary performance in the '09 ALDS vs. the Twins was any hearkening back to the only other "A-Rod-esque" performance he has had while a Yankee. It too occurred in the ALDS - in '04 and it also occurred against the very same Minnesota Twins. But the signature image of A-Rod from that postseason is not whaling the ball off of the baggie in the Metrodome is it?

Friday night in the Bronx, Steinbrenner's best apostles will stand with their hands on their own hardware - working like hell to write an unhappy ending to one L.A. Story while keeping an eye on another still-evolving one. All the while hoping to eventually stand awash in champagne.

And hoping like hell not to get lost in the flood.


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