Friday, October 28, 2011

That Other World Series

Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal of the St. Louis Cardinals collide during the fourth inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World SeriesThree weeks ago -- the morning after the last day of the Major League Baseball season -- I sent a tweet referring to the many wild endings that had occurred in several of the games the night before, all of which had playoff implications riding on them.

“Has anyone looked into Buffalo Wild Wings’ possible involvement in last night’s MLB games?” I asked.

Was making a jokey reference to those commercials in which crowds at BWW sports bars who are enjoying the games are able to order the games fixed to continue into extra innings and overtime, thereby allowing them to continue their fun evenings. Saw more than a few folks alluding to those commercials again last night during the latter stages of that wild Game 6 of the World Series.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That other World Series... of baseball.

What a game, eh? Lots of head-spinning, crazy-ass back-and-forthing at the end, including a couple of instances where the St. Louis Cardinals were down to their last strike only to get a needed hit to tie the game. By the time the bottom of the 11th rolled around it almost seemed inevitable that St. Louis was going to score and snatch it away from the Texas Rangers to force tonight’s decisive Game 7.

I’ve been a baseball fan since I before I can remember, playing little league from the age of six, collecting cards, and watching the “Game of the Week” back when there was only one game on each week. I think I’ve confessed here before how I was geeky enough to score games at home while I watched -- one of those early, formative activities that could be said to have distantly foreshadowed my eventually becoming a poker tournament reporter.

May 17, 1980 issue of 'The Sporting News'Like many young boys, I spent endless hours carefully studying The Sporting News and all the box scores, playing Statis Pro games, and memorizing all of the important stats and records.

The other day when reading about how the St. Louis Cardinals had experienced a couple of snafus in Game 5 while making phone calls from the dugout to the bullpen, I saw the article writer referring to the fact that they were relying on technology (the telephone) invented the same year the National League had been founded.

I knew before finishing the sentence the year in question -- 1876. And that the American League came in 1901. And there was no World Series in 1904. And so on. All that is still wedged somewhere in there along with other vital stuff like our old phone number in the house where I grew up, my grandparents’ birthdays, and other important numbers like .367, 56, 755, and 4,191.

Some immediately described last night’s game as one of the best if not the best in World Series history. Funny, because prior to the ninth inning it was shaping up to be remembered as one of the sloppiest-played games ever, with five errors between the two teams. (I think the WS record might be six -- that’s one stat I never did memorize growing up.)

Other goofy decisions and mistakes made both on the field and by the managers further complicated matters. But all that of course made the game even more compelling to watch. And then came some real heroic stuff in the form of those big two-out, two-strike hits by the Cards late.

Despite not having a dog in this fight, I was thoroughly entertained right up until the last pitch and after. Made me think how all of the errors and high fastballs hung over the plate and other missteps added both to the fun and to that sense that the players -- as incredibly talented as they are -- are all human, too.

Error on the shortstopIt’s mistakes and “human” foibles that help make poker more interesting to watch, too. Am looking forward to some high caliber play at the WSOP Main Event final table (just over a week away!), but I’m also anxious to see the out-of-the-ordinary stuff, too -- i.e., the unorthodox play and/or “incorrect” move that throws an extra, unexpected wrinkle into the story of the tourney’s final act.

Speaking of, one last act to go for MLB tonight. Haven’t been this interested to see a baseball game since I was a kid. Might have to get some chicken wings. Maybe I’ll even score it.

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