October 2, 2003

1:47 am

It is now 1:47 am and I just finished watching one of the best games I have ever seen. If you stayed up along with me, you definitely know what I mean, and you'll be hurting in a few hours just like me when your alarm clock goes off.

Earlier this week, in my preview of the Boston/Oakland first-round series, I said the following:

"On one hand, you've got the Red Sox, who, if you believe everything HBO has to say on the subject, are cursed forever. On the other hand, as great as Billy Beane and the A's have been over the last few years, the next time they get out of the first-round will be the first time. Has there ever been a first-round tie, with neither team advancing? Nah..."

I guess the lesson here is to be careful what you wish for.

Last night was a perfect example of why playoff baseball is so damn great and why baseball is, without a doubt, the greatest game in the world. Anyone who doesn't think so is either completely nuts or has never seen a game like the one I just saw.

The game started at 9 pm with a matchup of two of the best pitchers in all of baseball and it ended at 1:45 am, after about three straight hours of non-stop tension and drama.

It is far too late for me to think clearly and I have to get up far too early to write anything substantial right now, so pardon me if the following comments make less than perfect sense...

Pedro Martinez obviously did not have his best stuff, but he hung tough and was able to work out of a huge jam in the bottom of the 7th, to keep the Red Sox in the game. He ended up going 7 innings while allowing 3 runs, throwing 130 pitches in the process. I'd say he's no longer an option to start Game Four. Tim Hudson wasn't bad either, although he also wasn't on top of his game and even struggled with a minor forearm/hand injury.

Together, Hudson and Martinez threw 236 pitches, and if you would have told me that another 199 pitches were going to be thrown after they were out of the game, I probably would have just said "f--- it, I'm going to bed." Thank god I didn't.

I would have missed Todd Walker, a .234/.282/.373 hitter against left-handed pitching this season, hitting a 2-run homer off of Ricardo Rincon, a left-handed reliever who limited left-handed hitters to .203/.270/.278 this year, and served up just 1 homer in 79 at bats.

I would have missed Byung-Hyun Kim struggling once again on baseball's biggest stage. I would have missed Erubiel Durazo knocking in the game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th.

I would have missed Keith Foulke pitching three scoreless innings of relief, tossing 51 total pitches while the announcers kept telling me this was risky because he was a "closer." I would have missed 21 year old rookie Rich Harden making his post-season debut as a reliever in the 12th inning of a tie-game.

I would have missed Derek Lowe, Game Three's scheduled starter, coming into the game in the bottom of the 11th.

I would have missed Eric Chavez's game-saving play at third base, first robbing an extra-base hit from Gabe Kapler and then diving into the third base bag an instant ahead of the sliding Manny Ramirez.

I would have missed the team that doesn't bunt and never uses "small-ball" executing a squeeze bunt with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning...with their catcher at the plate!

I would have missed the look of complete shock on the faces of the Red Sox as it happened and the look of total joy on Eric Chavez's face as he crossed the plate with the winning-run.

I would have missed an extraordinary baseball game.

But thank god I didn't. I'm going to remember this game when I'm eighty and, like a great man once said, "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

Baseball, man. There is nothing quite like it.


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