Thursday, September 29, 2011


Someone ought to ask the question.

Was Wednesday night the most dramatic night of sports action ever?

Yes, there have been better games than (pick one from Wednesday), but it's difficult to believe there have been better nights. Ever. Let's review.

With one day left in the long baseball season, no postseason matchup was set in terms of location. So that meant games involving Milwaukee and Arizona in the National League, and Texas and Detroit in the American League had meeting. All four could have won the home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Fine. We know that wasn't the big story of the night. In the American League, we had Boston trying to fight off an historic collapse. The Red Sox, running on fumes for a month, were trying to extend their season while playing in Baltimore. In Tampa, the Rays were trying to complete a stunning comeback on their low budget. They faced the Yankees, who had first place clinched and were concentrating mostly on getting ready for the postseason.

In the National League, the Braves had their own September woes and had thrown away the wild-card lead. They were hosting the first-place Phillies, while the Cardinals were going up against lowly Houston. Playoff games loomed in both leagues; indeed, it looked at times like we might have two of them on Thursday night.

Out of the four big games, only one was a blowout. Houston finally realized it was a 100-loss team and went down meekly. But the Cardinals hadn't clinched anything yet. And the Braves were hanging on against the Phillies, who suited up many of their regulars for most if not all of the game.

On the other side, the Red Sox and Orioles went back and forth for a while. The Yankees started a pitcher that no one outside of Scranton had heard of, but jumped off to a 7-0 lead on David Price.

By the time 11 o'clock rolled around, I looked up and realized that I had been watching baseball for four hours and nothing had been determined in the identity of the two wild-card spots. Amazing.

You know how this turned out by now. The Braves blew a lead in the ninth and lost in extra innings. The Rays got a home run with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the Yankees. The Red Sox, unbeaten entering the ninth inning and one strike away from a win, lost. And Tampa Bay got a walk-off homer from Evan Longoria, three minutes after the Orioles' win, to clinch the playoff spot.

For a sports fan, has it ever been better than that? One game, maybe. Three games that will never be forgotten? Nope.

I doubt the NFL has had a day like it. While there have been good playoff games on the same day, the interlocking nature of baseball's finish might give it the dramatic edge. Maybe there have been a couple of Game Sevens in hockey that went into overtime. All I can come up with is a flurry of buzzer-beaters in the NCAA tournament on a given day. But mix the on-field dramatics with the scoreboard watching, and I think this wins.

I didn't like the outcome -- although as a Red Sox I figured Boston could lose a best-of-five series in two games the way the team was playing -- but it was an amazing experience to watch.

Tell me again why people watch "Dancing with the Stars" or "Survivor" instead of live sports events.

1 comment:

Aceman from Hanover said...

I was up until midnight Weds. night, flipping between the Sox, Rays and Braves games.

With the Sox out, I won't be compelled to continue such late nights throughout the playoffs and World Series!