If you skipped last night’s heart-attack-inducing single-game playoff between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers for the AL Central Championship based solely on an anti-baseball bias, I feel sorry for you.
I, too, disregarded the MLB like broccoli, always shrugging it off as bland and boring. That’s until Jim Leyland‘s ’06 Tiger squad finally rose from the depths of ostracized oblivion, leaving me a legitimate follower and able to truthfully appreciate the intricacies of America’s most storied sport. As a fan, getting wrapped up was easy. With games played every day, scheduling time for your team is too convenient and you wind up living by popped-up pitches and dying by dropped bloops – both which are complimented surprisingly well by beer and peanuts. Then, if your team is one of the privileged eight to earn a next-to-impossible playoff bid, the postseason arrives and literally becomes a whole new ball game, as the turtle time between plays turns hairs grey and tests your nerves more than a vacation with the step-fam.
For example, last night’s tie-breaking bonus 163rd regular-season game provided a gut-wrenching feeling for five-plus hours, leaving the tips of my fingers throbbing by the time the Minnesota outfielder Carlos Gomez muscled in the winning run to not only end the 12th, but a whirlwind season for a Tigers team Sports Illustrated deemed the “righteous franchise.” And, even though my heart got Temple Of Doom‘d and the whimsical Twins have arrived in the Big Apple for Game 1 of a series my squad should’ve clinched a week ago, I can still find solace in the fact I got to witness what was probably one of the best sporting events I’d ever seen – which is my point.
This post was not meant to harp on how a sloshed Miguel Cabrera and his Tigers blew it like a breathalyzer, or another shameless plug for ‘The D,’ as some of you claim we do here. Not even close. Instead, it is simply some positive reinforcement towards professional baseball, in general – a sport that could use some steroid-free, Public Relations love once in a while. A timeless art form that, unfortunately, not too many people take the time to appreciate anymore, leaving America’s Pastime as an empty peanut shell on the the sticky, cement floor of the past.
If you live in or near NY, Boston, Philly, LA, Colorado, St. Louis or Minnesota during the next few weeks and have never found yourself cheering for your squad because you thought baseball was the equivalent to watching water dry, do yourself a favor; flip on the playoffs and lather up on the easily-accessible bandwagon. Not only will you never look back, but you’ll be carrying on a hundred years of tradition and passing on hometown heritage in the process.
Two things I now have to rest on the shoulders of a bunch of Canadians and Swedes on ice-skates, you lucky bastards.