So last night after putting my son to bed, I checked in on the Rays / Red Sox game. it was the top of the 3rd inning and it was 5-0 Rays. Now, I'm not a HUGE fan of either team, but I would have to call myself a Red Sox fan - their probably my favorite American League team. So I watched for a bit, then when down to check the computer for new emails, etc..
When I came back to the television, it was the top of the 7th, and Manny Delcarmen had just walked two Rays. Sensing the game slipping away, Red Sox manager Terry (Tito) Francona brought in his closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Paps gave up a double off The Monstah and it was 7-0 Rays. He got out of the inning, and the Fenway faitfhful started to leave.
I've been to Fenway. It's the very best place you could ever imagine for watching a baseball game, for enjoying baseball. I couldn't believe people were leaving. I'll grant you, the Sox have played poorly the past 2 1/2 games. But this team came back down 3-0 in the ALCS to the Yankees in 2004 and down 3-1 in the ALCS to the Indians and 2007. But there they were, some of them, enough to have it matter, leaving.
So what happened?
The Sox scored 4 in the 7th, 3 in the 8th to tie and 1 in the 9th to win 8-7. I literally couldn't bring myself to get off the couch, not even between innings. David "Big Papi" Ortiz hit a 3-run homer in the 7th, and from that point on I knew I was watching something special, something memorable. In my minds eye, I saw that pitch travel that exact same path - down and in - and Papi just turn on it. They have been pitching him inside all series, but up where couldn't get anything on it. No, the pitch HAD to be down for him to have a chance. And then it happened. I couldn't believe it. I watched the top of 8th, watched Papelbon not have his best fastball, and it was the most nerve wracking 8 minutes I've had in a long time. But he shut them down, and the comeback was on.
The lesson here? Unless you've got a 4-year old (like I do) you don't leave early. EVER. And if you have a 4-year old, don't bring him to a playoff game - it ended after midnight ET.
Baseball has been called a slow game, lots of standing around staring at dirt and grass. Ok, won't argue that. But in October, in the playoffs, that slow pace can allow drama to build, intrigue to develop, and heroes to rise from being down 7-0 with 2 outs in the 7th inning.