As I sat in my living room with the end of the Washington Nationals season behind us, I thought to myself, this is the moment where I’d like to just hibernate until at least January so I can take a month to get excited for pitchers and catchers reporting to Viera in February. For a baseball fanatic, winter is the worst time of year, and I will go through serious withdrawals. Sure, there will be post-season baseball, but the Nats will be nowhere to be found.
And then, Wild Card Wednesday happened. The stars had to align in an incredible way for things to happen the way that they did late Wednesday night. In the 8th inning, the Tampa Bay Rays were down 7-0, barely clinging to life. At the same time the Boston Red Sox were up 3-2, their struggling bullpen seemed to be working pretty well. It looked about wrapped up. In case you didn’t hear, the Tampa Bay Rays came back in ridiculous fashion and won the AL Wild Card. On the other side, once an NL Rookie of the Year candidate, the Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel blew a save to the Philadelphia Phillies that ultimately ended the Braves season to open the door for the St. Louis Cardinals who trounced the Houston Astros 8-0.
As I sat and watched, unable to comprehend what I was watching unfold before my very eyes, it reminded me what was so great about baseball. It’s a game of walk offs and extra innings, a game of suspense and stats, a game of heart and passion. As the Rays continue to prove, it’s not a game of who has more money, it’s about who fills their organization the right way. If you’re not a baseball fan, and you watched these games on Wednesday night, you’re a baseball fan today. It’s one of those days that you’ll remember as a sports fan forever.
What you’ll hear over the next few days is how the Red Sox and Braves had the biggest collapses in the history of baseball, and maybe all of sports. And that’s certainly true. They both had commanding leads in their respective Wild Card races, and they both ended up outside the playoffs after 162 games. What everyone should remember, though, is that two teams also had the most incredible comebacks you will ever see: the Rays and the Cardinals.
We’re going to spend a lot of time talking about the Nationals 2011 season and their impressive 80-81 finish, but as I was ready to limp into the offseason as a disheveled Nats fan, tonight reminded me why baseball was so great. I hope it did for you, too.