In the late innings of last night’s game, it looked like I was going to have some worthwhile baseball to write about here. The Colorado Rockies, down 6-0 in Game 3 of the World Series, made a comeback, scoring 5 runs in the 6th and 7th innings to enter the final two frames only down by a run. They had gotten to Mike Timlin, a reliable, though aged Red Sox reliever, as well as Hideki Okajima, who has been outstanding all year long.
And then, Brian Fuentes couldn’t hold the line, and suddenly, the score was looking more like the blowout from Game 1 than the nailbiter from Game 2.
The Rockies are outclassed and, for the first time in a month, unlucky. It happens. As any fan who has witnessed his favorite team waste in the bottom of the standings, as well as soaring, only to fall just short. Losing 90 in the regular season hurts a lot more than losing 4 in the World Series.
Every year, when the playoffs roll around, I look at the teams, and wonder if there’s anyone worth rooting for. I’m never that passionate about it. I usually root for team who have players I like or who haven’t won in a long time (or at all), or even because I have friends who root for that team. If they lose, I’m only slightly disappointed, and if they win, I’m modestly pleased.
More than anything, though, I root for competition, in the postseason. I will take as many Game 7s as possible. I will take starting pitchers having to work out of the bullpen. Pinch hit home runs. Late inning stolen bases. Outfielders throwing runners out at home and third. Good, fun, baseball.
Well, I have to say, assuming the Red Sox win today (or even if they lose today, but win Game 5), this has been the worst postseason since the 1994 strike that I can remember. I don’t remember if any postseasons in the wildcard era featured fewer games (that is, more sweeps), but every affair seemed lopsided.
For all it’s reputation, Philadelphia can be a surprisingly nuanced sports crowd. In big games, during baseball season, when the game is over or almost over, and the Phillies are losing, there will be generally one of two reactions present. The crowd will boo, or cheer politely. If the crowd boos–especially if the crowd boos lustily–it’s because they’re mad and disappointed, and believe that the Phillies could have done better, played better. If they cheer politely, it’s because they’ve given up, and are thanking the team for the season.
I was at Game 2 of the Phillies-Rockies series, a 10-5 shellacking at the hands and bats of the Rockies. It was what appeared to be the final home game of the Phillies season. If, in the final innings, with the Phillies losing, the crowd has booed, it would mean the fans believed there could be another game in Phillie–Game 5 of the series. If the crowd cheered, clapped, or showed kind appreciation, it means we, the fans, had given up on the season. Instead, we sat stunned. We filed out in silence. We were like zombies. Numbed by the deadness of the competition in the series.
I can only imagine that’s how Rockies fans feel right now. How Yankees fans felt (if Yankee fans are capable of that kind of emotion). How Angel fans felt. How Diamondback and Cub fans felt. Only the Indians were eliminated on competitive terms, and even then, they were the losers in the dramatic 7 game series in my memory.
That’s the way the ball bounces, sometimes. And, of course, there’s always next year.