Friday, October 5, 2012

The Magic Waters of October

If you are as I am, then today is a day you have looked forward to all year.  It is the first day of the 2012 Major League Baseball post-season.  Today in the American League the two-time defending AL Champion Texas Rangers, having spent the past sixty days channeling their inner Tom Petty (or is it their inner Heartbreaker?), shall square off against the rejuvenated Baltimore Orioles in the first-ever Wild Card Game.  The winner shall advance to the AL Division Series against the Yankees, which shall begin on Sunday - NOT at the home of the Bronx's best apostles, which makes me wonder just what is the "advantage" of the home-field advantage, but of whichever team survives today's single-elimination round.  

We have reached the point on the calendar where the baseball season is no longer an endurance race but - instead - a sprint.  A season that started in April's early Spring chill and seemed at some point in August's dog days as if it would last forever will end for at least half of the ten playoff teams within the next seven to ten days.  A climax that takes an eternity to arrive at, upon arrival does so in a rush.  Fair?  Unfair?  It is neither.  It is the game.  And that is all that matters.

From my admittedly limited perspective this has been an extraordinary baseball season.  It featured not only more than a half-dozen no-hitters but more than one perfect game.  Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers won the Triple Crown (led the AL in batting average, home runs and runs batted in) and in doing so did something that no player in the Major Leagues had done since Yaz led his Red Sox to the World Series in the Impossible Dream season in '67.  If it takes as long for someone to match Cabrera's feat as it took for Cabrera to match Yaz's then I shall not likely live long enough to see it, which gives me all the more reason to be happy that I saw this one.   I did not know until I read it on-line yesterday morning that Yaz and Cabrera's Triple Crown-winning seasons included one shared statistic.  Each man hit forty-four home runs.

Cabrera was far from the only great story in the Bigs this year.  While New York's other professional baseball team was nothing short of dreadful, winning on an average of one game a week in the season's second half to limp their way to finishing fourteen games under .500, the Mets' season was worth paying attention to thanks to the exploits of the amazing R.A. Dickey.  I have neither the ability nor the space here to pay homage to Mr. Dickey at length.  If you are wholly unfamiliar with him - and if you are I am constrained to ask, "Lolo Jones what brings you to my blog?" - then do yourself the great service of doing a Google search of him.  Whether you love baseball or cannot pick a baseball out of a photo array that includes a baseball, a softball, a baked potato and a hockey puck, Dickey is a man worth learning about.  He is - in this one man's humble opinion - impossible to root against.  On a team that won seventy-four games, Dickey won twenty of them while leading the NL in strikeouts and pitching to a 2.76 ERA.  All the while tossing that funky knuckleball he learned how to throw a few years ago in order to salvage his career.  I am hopeful that when the National League Cy Young Award is awarded in a month or so, Dickey is its recipient.   

If you are as I am then this is for you as it is for me, the most wonderful time of the year.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  It can all end in an eye blink.

Ah October....


-AK

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