My last entry was called “Ready for history”. The Rays and Phillies haven’t disappointed. Well, okay, some of them have, but that’s a different story. It has come to my attention that people have been complaining about everything about this Series.
“People” need to shut up and pay attention to the game’s magnificent history.
As I write this, I sit in the cafeteria of my beloved Drew University in Madison, NJ, looking out a window that takes up an entire wall. It appears to be snowing. Par for the course, eh? Yes, the weather has been one of the “problems” with this series–Game 5 shouldn’t have even been started, it should’ve been postponed earlier (before the Rays tied it up), etc. Weather happens. Some of the best World Series ever have been affected by the weather. Weren’t there like three days or so in between the fifth and sixth games of the 1975 World Series, which is always listed among the top two in any list of the greatest World Series ever? The fact that the Phillies have essentially lost the advantage that they had by having Hamels on the mound just adds to the mythos of the game. On the one hand, if they win in spite of Mother Nature, it’s a great story. On the other, if the Rays gain the momentum from this and triumph, they’re truly a team of destiny, one that the Almighty himself intervened to aid. (It’s always a good Series when you can invoke the Lord’s name in describing it and not sound completely blasphemous.) Also in the weather department–Game 3, delayed by rain, getting record lows in ratings as a result. Quite a shame, as it was a great game–a walkoff, in fact. Being a college student, and with it being a weekend, I of course was tuned in until the end.
The snow isn’t falling as hard now as it was when I first started writing, but it’s definitely snow–the flakes have increased in size. Another complaint about this Series, ironically, is the exact opposite–Tropicana Field. Even after the Philadelphia rain has screwed around with everything, the suggestion that it would be easier in a dome has been met with criticism. It’s unnatural, they say. Feh! There are plenty of domes out there. The other member of the consensus top 2 thus far, which is the one more commonly chosen as number one, was played in part in a dome–1991, Braves vs. Twins. If weather is a factor, domes should be a factor as well. Every park is different, and they all have their quirks. Are Tropicana’s catwalks really a bigger factor than a 37-foot-high wall with a ladder attached to it, an indentation in the outfield side wall with a garage door, the shortest distance down the right-field line of any park in the country, an extremely low wall out in right-center, and “the Triangle”? I doubt it, but no one complains about Fenway. Its quirks are “charming”.
Snow’s finally stopping, I think. Another complaint, of course, is that the teams aren’t interesting. The Rays and Phillies have no history. Well, uh, yeah. The Rays are only in their eleventh season, and the first ten, they were horrible! This is of course where Unpleasable Fanbase really comes into play. If big-market teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox make the Series, people complain about being sick of them. If they don’t, people complain about how nobody wants to watch small-market teams. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS!!! And, of course, Tampa Bay may be small-market, but Philadelphia is probably a larger market than, say, Minneapolis or Atlanta were. Not to mention, the Braves and Twins hadn’t been very good the previous year. The Twins, though World Champions in 1987, had fallen to last place in the AL West in 1990. The Braves, meanwhile, had been bad for numerous years and had the worst record in the majors in 1990–much like the 2007 Rays. Or 2007 Devil Rays, as it were–I’ve finally gotten used to calling them “the Rays”. Please, don’t tell me this isn’t an amazing story.
Finally, there have been complaints about the officiating at large. Part of this stems from the decisions in last night’s game, which really weren’t the umpires’ to make, but also, there have been complaints about bad calls. This mars the Series how, exactly? Need I remind you that 1975 had its high-profile potentially Series-changing umpiring blunders as well–namely, an interference non-call on pinch-hitter Ed Armbrister in the tenth inning of Game 3, the difference between a runner on first and one out and runners on second and third with no outs. Seeing as how the sac fly that scored the game-ending run of that game was the second of the inning, it’s probably safe to say that the game would’ve at least reached the eleventh, even if the Reds may have still won it anyway. So, yeah, let the umps continue to do their thing. Let people complain. But the Rays will have shutdown David Price on the mound for the resumption of Game 5, and then they go back to Tampa for Game 6 with “Big Game James” Shields on the mound. Chances of it reaching seven games: Very favorable. Where this will rank among the lists of all-time greatest World Series ever? Depends on how those games turn out. It’ll definitely help if the Rays win it, and while Game 3’s walkoff was nice, 1975 had two extra-inning games, both walkoffs, and three other one-run games, including the clincher in which the Reds broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the top of the ninth, while 1991 saw three extra-inning games, all walkoff wins, and two other one-run games, one a ninth-inning walkoff, the other seeing the winning run score in the eighth. Game 1 was a one-run game, and Game 2 a two-run game, and Game 3 the walkoff. Game 5 is tied after 5.5. 1975 and 1991 each had an abberation, so Game 4 can be excused if need be. So if the Rays win close in each of the next three games–tightly pitched games, and it might help if neither team scores in this resumption until the eleventh or so–this worst-to-first story could dethrone 1991 (or 1975, to some, although the fact that these two are 1-2 in some order is almost unanimously accepted) as the Greatest World Series Ever.
Oh, and while the wind is still blowing, it appears that it’s not even raining anymore.