13.10.05

Game Two, Don't Leave It Up to Blue

Let’s see, where to even begin? With Joey Cora being the worst third base coach in the history of baseball? Crede continuing to have his head up his ass? Buehrle pitching the game of his life? The weirdest play I’ve ever seen in a MLB game? With Crede, who once again, redeems himself? Or do we talk about the Umps who had a tough game and made some questionable calls?

I woke up this morning and was watching “Today” which showed Bush’s latest poll numbers. They aren’t bad… their complete shit. 39% approval rating in the country, only 2% approval from blacks, and about five people think the country is headed in the right direction, just bad news all around for Bush. And while I was hearing all this I realized how out of touch I have been in the last week or so from the news and the stuff that is suppose to impact our lives. For all I know, the entire country of Pakistan may not exist having fallen into the Indian Ocean and someone may have discovered Atlantis… I’m not kidding. I have no clue what’s going on in the world. None. I guess there is some Bird Flu I should be worried about, but that’s about it.

I was reminded of being in London during the build up to the War in Iraq in the beginning months of 2003. Here we were, the Brits and Americans, preparing to go to war and all you head about, all anyone cared about at the pub was… David Beckham. Sure people had their views on the war, mostly negative; and sure people cared so much as they were conscious of what was going on, but many people cared more about Beckham and his saga than the war.

Right now, that’s how I’m feeling. The world is continuing on. But I’m stuck following and completely committed to the White Sox. They have my heart right now.

Now, on to Game Two… first things first, Joey Cora should not be allowed on the flight to Southern California… why he send Rowand in the second inning is still bothering me. Rowand was out of gas after running and flopping all around the base paths, he had no business going home. If Rowand went into third standing, then I could see sending him, but he slid into third. Granted, the play was very close at the plate, and you could argue that Rowand was safe, but it wasn’t a smart coaching move by Cora and almost cost the Sox the game.

Then Crede’s base running blunder in the 7th… what was he thinking? You can’t get doubled up at second in a tie ball game. You just can’t.

After my near heart attack in the bottom of the 8th inning when Cabrera just missed a home run that would have made it a 3-1 game, I started thinking about how great Buehrle was pitching. I was taking the guy for granted throughout most of the game; he was just pitching out of his mind. And while I was thinking of it during the break between the top and bottom half of the eight, I started to think about Brit Burns. Now I was 25 months old when Brit Burns pitched the game of his life in Game Four of the 1983 ALDS allowing no runs over the first nine innings. I’ve never seen a tape or replay of that game, but I’ve heard about it plenty of times. Throw in Rowand and Crede’s base running mistakes which were both eerie similar to Dybzinski’s base running mistake (or so I hear) and things were looking bad for the White Sox. Game Four of 1983 was being replayed right in front of our eyes. But right after I thought, ‘Game of His Life… Brit Burns…’ I said to myself, “Self, you CANNOT think about this or anying having to do with 1983.” I put it out of my mind and just started hoping.

Before we get to ‘that play’ last night… when Pierzynski came to the plate in the 9th, I swear I thought I saw him cross himself, and I said, “Come on Jesus, just this once”. I’m not kidding. I never pray or bring Jesus or the Lord into sports. But for some reason, when AJ was coming up, I was thinking about Jesus. I sort of felt like Kanye West. But I was also happy that I went to Jesus in that situation instead of, I don’t know, the Devil. That would have been bad. So I guess it shows I’ve got Faith in Jesus. Jesus Walks.

Now, the dropped third and AJ Pierzynski reaching first, was he out? Did Josh Paul catch the ball cleanly? What was the ump doing? I’m going to be completely honest, I thought Pierzynski struck out and the inning was over. I even shouted “No!” and ripped my hat off my head. I even walked away from the TV, only to look back and see AJ three quarters of the way to third base. I couldn’t believe it. Was this actually happening? I was stunned, and the moment I saw Mike Scioscia attempting to get out of the dugout to argue (which was funny in it’s own right, he looked like a guy who just heard that they were closing the buffet at a funeral), I knew something good had happened.

I’m sure at this point we’ve all seen the replay at least once, probably a hundred times, it was debated on “Today” for Kate Couric’s Sake. I think Paul caught the ball, but it was close to the point where it also looks like he trapped the ball. It was a really close call. And when in doubt, cover all your bases (no pun intended). That’s why Paul should have tagged the runner. How many times have you seen a catcher catch a ball that might/might not have been in the dirt and tag the runner just to be safe? Thousands of times. That’s all Paul had to do, tag Pierzynski, instead he left it up to the umps. And the umps ruled against the Angels. When you live by Blue, you die by Blue. The Sox had two calls that were damn close, close enough to go the other way earlier.

And what a play by Pierzynski to run to first, a what the Hell? what’s the worst that can happen, type play. And it worked.

After that play, you knew that the Sox were going to win that game, and it was probably going to be Crede who won the game. But the White Sox being the White Sox did leave some doubt. Crede went down two strikes, and then hit a liner out to left, I couldn’t tell if the ball was catchable at first, but once I saw Anderson get in position to play the ball off the fence, I knew it was over. It was one of the top ten moments of my life. I’m not kidding. I can’t really describe the feeling. The Sox had just won; in unbelievable fashion… the relief of the game being over, the stress and anxiety of the game was lifted off my shoulders. Joy was another. The Oh My God I can’t believe this is happening to US! We never get that call! This never happens to us! feeling. Shouts of joy were released.

I don’t know if that play is going to be the defining moment of the series, certainly if the Sox go on to win the ALCS it will be. If they lose, everyone will forget about it. But here’s the thing, the series is tied at one game each. It’s now a five game series and if the Angels do end up losing three of the next five, they only have themselves to blame. The question is how do they respond to this? Will the fold it up and pack it in like the Cubs in 2003, the Red Sox in 1986, the Cardinals in 1985, or the Sacramento Kings in 2003 (and for that matter most NBA playoff games) where unbelievable plays and/or calls cost their teams the game and they come back the next game and stink up the joint? Or will they come back and play well. If I was an Angels fan the good news is that the next came isn’t do or die. Even if the Angels come out flat in Game Three, there is still at least Game Four and Five.

And to anyone who wants to compare this play to Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and the Don Denkinger call… just stop now. The dropped third even when you watch it 100 times is unclear; there is not indisputable evidence that Paul caught the ball cleanly. In ’85, Orta was clearly out, that is indisputable. Last night wasn’t like when the kid in New York in 1996 reached over the fence and pulled that ball into the stands for a home run against the Orioles. It was just too close of a call to say, “That’s what happened!”

So on to SoCal! And I’m going to say it; last night’s game and the play in the 9th may just be the turning point in the series. But of course, we shall see.

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