Thursday, October 8, 2009

For the love of the game - Baseball Post Season, Part 1

This first part was written at Fenway Park, Boston, Mass. October, 2008;  history is repeating and the RedSox are facing the Angels one more time for the divisional title this year.

What is the magic? What does Fenway represent? It’s what you breath, the legendary atmosphere of a gigantic structure full of memories; it’s the flavor you can taste of big stars, which in their moment only knew they were accomplishing their dreams and their commitment with a talent, given to a few privileged ones, recognized by the gutsiest but used in full only by the braves at heart.

Have you heard about the Cy Young award? Well, he, Cy Young, was a Red Sock. Have you seen the Ted Williams tunnel signs in Boston? Also, a Red Sock. And what about the Baby Ruth candy bar? No, I am not joking, but the Babe was also a Red Sock (and continued to be one at heart even after his involuntary cross over to the evil empire).

Being a Red Sock goes deeper than 9 players in the field, their records and to some, their millions. It is a life style; it’s the passion for a game hardly understood by the logical thinkers.

Why is October so especial? It represents a mission accomplished each season.

And here I am, in Fenway, Zone 18, a few feet from the green field of heroes -being a Red Sock is not a tag…is believing. Believe that the impossible is possible, that the challenges are incentives; that the collective passion gets into your bones and carries you proudly to home plate.

I am in a post season game – the feeling is different, is intense, is all or nothing. For the RedSox, winning today represents to sweep the Angels one more time, winning 12 consecutive games in a Divisional championship series! Poor Angels, they have been left behind for the last 3 seasons, 4 if they lose this one. It is worth mentioning that this year, the Angels are the best team in Major League Baseball with 100 wins; they are not an easy rival, in fact, they are favorites to win. However, they’ve lost the last 2 games which were played in their home, in LA…holy Angels.

Of all the games I’ve lived, this is, by far, the most exciting. Beckett is not in his best moment, so for every RBI pushed by the RedSox offensive, Becket allows the same to the Angels; they are playing with everything they have, they can’t lose. We continue the fight, one down, then up, then even… and we stayed even until the bottom of the eight inning. Along came the ninth, Francona does not call for JPap, seems like he knew better, he anticipates extra innings. Bottom of the ninth, Masters is doing a good job, not enough to win. Bottom of the tenth and straight from the bullpen… the “wild thing”… JPap… only 24 years old and such a giant. He makes his warming up throws, we at the park can’t hardly manage our excitement, to see him getting ready makes us feel hope; and then, out loud in the park, The Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping up to Boston” – bag pipes, drums and spirit – it is clear: JPap came to kill.

The tenth inning begins- JPap is doing his job- from my seat, I have a direct and perfect view to home plate and the pitcher’s mound. JPap is impressive, whether he is aware of it or not, his concentration ritual of crouching and hanging his arm makes me think of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide: baby face, monster arm…it must be threatening as hell for the player at bat the feeling of not knowing if the next throw is a bullet of more than 95 miles per hour that could easily slice your limb or brake perfectly in the middle of your strike zone – no matter what, it is smart to show respect and be aware.

The tenth inning is over; “cinco-ocho” is back for the eleventh – two complete innings and standing, emotionless, concentrated and straight…24 years full of passion and professionalism.

Here comes the twelfth… in Boston is past 1 AM and the park is no less than 98% full. There are 39,067 souls at the game, 39,066 and myself; did I go alone to the game? It is totally a matter of perspective. Who can be alone when you share the same passion with more than thirty nine thousand people gathered at the same time in the same space – it is pure physics, really: relativity, time, space and momentum.

So many chances, so many moments with the heart pounding in the mouth, freezing hands and soul hanging from a thin thread. Bases loaded, raw euphoria, then nothing; at this moment, the game really has to end – five hours and nineteen minutes, it’s officially the longest post-season game in the history of baseball; and the game ends indeed. A single hit to load first base, then a sacrifice fly to push the player to second, then another single to score the one run needed for the 5 to 4 – the winning score… winning alright, but for the Angels…1:38 AM, it is already Monday, somebody had to win and Boston let them win. They’re leaving the series 2 to 1, still up and needing just one more game, a fourth game in a few hours.
to be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love your feedback! Gracias por dejar sus comentarios.