The MLB Post-Season produces performances that are truly, rare air.
Baseball may be a team sport, but it is the only one where an individual can become a modern-day gladiator/rock-star/demi-god in a moment. When the crowd literally will not sit down until you come back out of the dugout to tip your cap to their roaring approval. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with baseball, especially in the month of October. The marathon season of one hundred and sixty-two regular season games is determined by a microscopic sample size of that colossal number, forcing do-or-die scenarios in every game, creating mythical heroes within fractions of a second, legends lasting long after the crowd has stopped cheering their names. Reggie becoming the poster-boy with 3 bombs. Gibson’s fist pump. Schilling’s bloody sock. Bartman’s bloody glove. Jeter’s flip to home. Batista’s bat-flip. Carter’s Canadian walk-off. Strasburg’s American classic.
Sports get people through the worst of times, providing glimmers of hope for tomorrow. The euphoria endures within people well after the next day and translates into personal belief that maybe they could do something extraordinary in their lives as well. Make the impossible become a reality. Flip the script of your life because you’ve seen it done and you want to experience that feeling too. From the boardroom to the men’s room anywhere in a city with a team in the playoffs, the conversation will typically end in assessing the previous night’s thriller and ultimately a friendship. Even if just for a cup of coffee, these memories are seared into us because they were profound statements of greatness, on the world’s biggest stage and for a few weeks in late autumn we are unified in watching these awe-inspiring dramatics play out.
For me, it was the 2006 Detroit Tigers run to the World Series. After destroying the evil empire of the Yankees, all that remained was the Oakland A’s in route to the first World Series the Tig’s had seen since the 80’s. I was between shitty careers out of undergrad trying to decide if I should pursue my graduate degree. Or finance. Or coaching sports. Or sales. Or maybe become a fucking monk, I honestly had no idea what to do with my life or what the future would hold. Totally directionless in my mid-twenties, I’d wander downstairs to my neighbor’s apartment nightly to watch the playoffs and get lost in something other than myself. The moment below not only sent the Tiger’s to their first series in over two decades but also prompted a ten-person pile-on of drunken happiness and beer showers, celebrating like we had won it ourselves. It resonated with me in the following days, months and years of my life. Watching Mag’s go deep always prompts a smile as I still hear the echoes of joy radiating from that college apartment.
I grew up witnessing and loving all these epic moments, players and games. I’d like to thank my mom for understanding how much it meant to her wide-eyed, backward-hat wearing, fist-clenching 11-year-old to always be allowed to stay up late to watch game 7’s. These are my favorites.