Warning: The following is only for hardcore baseball fans. I don’t expect anyone else to be into it. Just like I couldn’t care less about football.
Here’s the conversation I probably would have had with my dear departed dad about the World Series.
Hey dad, gonna watch the World Series?
Nah, they stink.
That was generally his response to anything that was outside his immediate baseball world, seen through his Bronx-colored glasses.
That world consisted of the New York Mets. If not, it would have to involve a National League team that was worthy. Which meant it would have to be a really great team, or a team with a hallowed history.
But even though we were from Nu Yawk, we could never root for the Yankees. Never the Yankees. As I mentioned when I first got into his philosophy, you couldn’t root for both the National and American leagues. Had to be one or the other.
I understood where he was coming from. Because everything I know about baseball and life, to some extent, I learned from him.
But I love to watch me a good game of Major League Baseball, no matter what. I suspect he did too, after kvetching about it.
All this baggage came into play as I pondered whether the even bother with this year’s World Series.
When rabid fan and partner Mitch was practically sitting shiva after the Phillies were knocked out of the playoffs, my interest waned. And when it turned out to be St. Louis and Texas in the World Series, I thought fuggedabawdit.
But then I relented and tuned in reluctantly because I wanted a taste. I was expecting bland.
I halfheartedly started rooting for the Cardinals because, hey, National League; the team of Stan Musial and Bob Gibson; and of course manager and animal lover Tony LaRussa. And the Texas Rangers? Who knew from them? A team George Bush once had a connection with. In strictly baseball terms, that wasn’t enough history and heft for me.
But then I was drawn in by the flawless acrobatics. Both teams doing the awesome stuff you long for from teams of World Series caliber, but know enough not to count on because ball players are only human after all.
Much to my surprise, I found myself eagerly returning for seconds, thirds — and sevenths. And I was not disappointed.
Golden gloves that miraculously stretched across infields and over walls, robbing both teams of home runs and base hits.
There were things to like about both teams. The Cardinals with the ever-serious La Russa who never smiled. And the big fact that they started out as a wild card and weren’t supposed to make it this far.
And I didn’t realize — because I hadn’t been paying attention all year — that the Rangers were owned by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and had two Jewish players, including a pitcher. (Even my Jewish dad might have been impressed by that.)
And, in a history that dates back to when they were the Washington Senators, they’d never won bupkis.
But those Cards! Three home runs by the same player in one game; and then a come-from-behind in the 11th to keep it alive and force a seventh game. Which they won.
What a stunner. Even more so because stone-faced La Russa finally smiled.**
One of the best series I’d ever seen. (My Aussie mate, Barry, always said us Yanks had no right to call it the World Series since only the U.S. was involved; but I’d defy him to show me better baseball anywhere else.)
Just saw La Russa’s retiring. Way to bow out while you’re way ahead of the game …