Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This Game I Love

Last night the perpetually-pitiful Pittsburgh Pirates hosted a playoff game.  The Pirates.  Until 2013, one had to hop into the WABAC Machine to find evidence of a winning season for the Bucs - not to mention a playoff game.  It was more than two decades of wandering in baseball's desert between sips of water for the good people of Pittsburgh.  As a baseball fan, I hope that this year's success at the spot where the three rivers meet is a harbinger of things to come. 

Tonight Terry Francona's Cleveland Indians host the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild-Card Game.  You may or may not recall that Francona's 2013 season - his first as the man in charge of the Tribe - began with him getting lost on his way to the ballpark for the home opener.  A lot of people would have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the world at large never caught wind of that story.  Not Francona.  I heard him tell it more than once back in the spring - and every time he told it he laughed louder at his own foible than did anyone else in the room. 

Can it really have been just two Octobers ago when he was run out of Boston in the immediate aftermath of an epic September collapse?  Truth be told, his voice had likely been the one that at least certain of the players had heard for a tick or two too long in the home clubhouse at the Fens.  It happens to the best of coaches and managers.  Even to a man who brought New England not one - but two World Series wins during his skippership.    

Francona has always been an incredibly easy guy for whom to cheer - at least in my opinion.  I would very much like to see his Indians win tonight and set up an ALDS meeting with his former team, the Red Sox, now very ably skippered by his former pitching coach, John Farrell.  They say time heals all wounds.  Should Cleveland win tonight, we shall all have a chance to examine the healing process in Boston on Friday night.  

It was sixty-two years ago tomorrow that Bobby Thomson hit the home run off of Ralph Branca to win the NL pennant for the New York Giants over their cross-town rivals - Joanie K.'s Brooklyn Dodgers.  Sixty-two years.  It is an event that took place slightly more than a decade and one half before I was born.  Yet it is an event so familiar to me that I feel as if I bore witness to it as it unfolded....

Ah October.  The air is crisper.  The nights are cooler.  The drama?  The drama is always unscripted and never underwhelming.  Disappointing perhaps but never, ever underwhelming. 



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