Epic Series Reminds Us Why We Love The Game

The ebb and flow was almost too much to take, especially when Game 7 went to extra innings but first had to endure a rain delay.

 

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Casey Stengel didn’t say that (if he had, we’d have laughed).

Yogi Berra didn’t say that (if he had, he’d have mangled it).

Ernie Banks didn’t say it, either (“Let’s play two,” was enough for Mr. Cub).

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

It was just a line in a great movie (“Moneyball”) about an infuriating subject (sabermetrics).

But if you watched the 2016 World Series, you get it.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Catcher David Ross, playing the final game of his career, entered Game 7 in the fifth inning for the Cubs and promptly threw a ball away at first base and then reacted to a wild pitch in such an un-athletic fashion that two runs were able to score.

Ross, 39, had played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres, Reds, Red Sox, Braves, the Red Sox again and finally the Cubs along the way to what was shaping up to be an undignified exit.

Then he hit a home run in the top of the sixth.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Outfielder Rajai Davis had been with the Pirates, Giants, A’s, Blue Jays and Tigers before joining the Indians this season. Davis, 35, was being fitted for goat horns after air-mailing a throw home which allowed a run to score that shouldn’t have, and then breaking in before breaking back on a ball that should have been caught but instead fell for a run-scoring double.

All Davis did after that was hit a two-run, game-tying homer in the bottom of the eighth off Chicago’s Aroldis Chapman, one of the most feared closers in the game.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

The just-completed Series resonated for all the right reasons, every one of them.

The torturous backstories on both sides made for compelling drama at the outset (the Indians were seeking their first title since 1948 and the Cubs their first since 1908). And both teams competed as if they were determined to once-and-for-all end their franchise’s and their fan base’s long-term suffering.

It was desperate from the get-go.

And the tension only ratcheted up which each game.

At times, this Series was superbly played.

At times, the best fielder (Chicago’s Javier Baez) was making multiple errors and the best pitchers (Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller, and Chapman) were getting clobbered.

The ebb and flow was almost too much to take, especially when Game 7 went to extra innings but first had to endure a rain delay.

And in the end, a pinch-runner named Albert Almora Jr. played a critical role on the basepaths and a pitcher named Mike Montgomery recorded his first Major-League save.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

The dugout exchange during Game 7 between Ross and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo that was captured by Fox TV’s cameras and microphones personified the absurd emotion that had threatened to overwhelm all involved throughout.

Rizzo: “I can’t control myself right now. I’m an emotional wreck.”

Ross: “Just continue to breathe. That’s all you can do, buddy.”

Easy for him to say.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”

Later, in the immediate aftermath of a Series victory that almost defied description, Ross looked directly into a Fox camera and tried to make sense of it all.

“When you want to just crumble when that ball goes over the fence, these guys fight back,” he said. “I’m just glad they took me on this journey.”

Having long been a card-carrying romantic about baseball, so am I.
 

 

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section