Well, all right baseball, you’ve got me for another October.
My very first post on this blog was about how I’d pretty much broken up with baseball. College basketball, hockey, tennis and the NFL had all moved ahead of the sport I played in Little League (right field, thank you. You get a LOT of time to think out there in right field, let me tell you. A lot of time.).
But as I figured, all it took was one exceptional playoff tiebreaker game to suck me back into the vortex. Tuesday night’s Twins-Tigers game was thrilling; back and forth, and forth and back, extra-innings drama that had plenty of screw-ups and great plays, one after another.
I was rooting for the Tigers at first, because don’t the people of Detroit deserve some joy after the last couple of years? But then I thought that a team that had collapsed down the stretch as bad as any team since, well, the 2007 or 2008 Mets (sorry, Mets fan readers. I know the wound is still fresh), doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.
The Twins pulled it out in 12 innings, and I’m happy for my relatives who live in Minnesota (shout out to the Haas family!). The horrible, ugly, louder-than-loud Metrodome gets to live one more week.
Of course, now the Yankees of New York will proceed to kick the ever-loving hell out of the Twins, as always happens in the playoffs (2003, 2004). The Twins haven’t beaten the Bombers once this year, losing all seven games, including three in excruciating, walk-off fashion back in May.
Plus, and as a Yankee fan I take perverse delight in this, the Yankees get to face Carl Pavano, who may have been the worst Yankees free-agent signing ever (and believe me, that’s not an easy list to top.) I’m guessing old Carl (Everything Hurts) Pavano will pull a calf muscle 10 minutes before his playoff start.
By the way, hell of a few days in the Twin Cities. Monday night Favre and the Vikes beat Green Bay, then Tuesday the Twins win a dramatic game to make the playoffs, and just for good measure, the NHL’s Wild come back from 3 goals down in the third to win their home opener, 4-3.
**Quickie playoff predictions, free of charge: Yanks over Twins in 4, Rockies upset the Phillies in 5 (just a hunch), Angels over Red Sox in 5, and Cardinals over L.A. in 3 (too much pitching).
**So there are plenty of reasons to bash ESPN, and I’ve hardly abstained in the past. It’s a great channel and I can’t imagine life without it, but there are plenty of things it screws up (the fact that they steal stories from other media outlets and claim them as their own, for example).
Still, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited about something the network is doing. To celebrate its 30 years on the air, ESPN commissioned 30 filmmakers, from Spike Jonze to Barry Levinson to Steve (Hoop Dreams) James, to make a one-hour documentary on some famous, or not-so famous, sports story in the last 30 years.
It’s called “30 for 30,” and the list of upcoming films is incredible. So many great things on here I want to see: the Reggie Miller vs. New York Knicks feud is in here, and the story of the rise and fall of the USFL. A documentary on the late great Len Bias, and a movie about June 17, 1994 (something about O.J. and a white Bronco springs to mind). The Allen Iverson bowling-alley brawl trial, which was such a huge deal at the time and now no one remembers it.
Truly, I went down the list and all the movies seem compelling. The first one premiered Tuesday night: “King’s Ransom,” about the maybe most important transaction in NHL history: Wayne Gretzky’s 1988 trade to the L.A. Kings. This was cataclysmic on so many levels; I remember as a kid being completely dazed, wondering how the hell the greatest player ever could just be traded. This was so huge in Canada; picture how Brooklyn Dodgers fans felt about Walter O’Malley in the late 1950s, then multiply it by 10, and you’ve got how Oilers fans felt about owner Peter Pocklington for trading the Great One.
The movie did not disappoint; I highly recommend catching it on the reruns. The series will run once a week until next March.
**And now, for our grand finale, Wilford Brimley rapping about his “diabeetus.” Thank you, Andrew Sullivan, for directing me to this: