Friday, October 28, 2011

THE BEST GAME 6 I NEVER SAW

Baseball officially became my life on October 21, 1975. That was
also the day that I  defied my parents orders for the first time
in my life. I was just an 11-year old kid  witnessing one of
the best World Series games ever played. It was Game 6 of
the epic series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati
Reds. The game had already been a nail-biting, heart-pounding,
shout til-your-hoarse type of game with moments that you knew
you just were never going to forget. Dwight Evans made a brilliant
catch in right-field, Bernie Carbo, who later admitted he was
stoned out of his mind, hit a pinch-hit game tying home run, and
then, long after my folks told me to go to bed, Carlton Fisk hit
that magical home run in the 12th inning to send the series to
a deciding 7th game.


As a kid, I had spent a lot of time gripping a baseball, but after
that game, baseball gripped me for a long, long time. It was my
love, my passion, which I used to earn a scholarship to UNC
and get a minor-league cup of coffee in the Red Sox organization.
Along the way, I never missed  watching a World Series game,
and it seemed that every time October came around, the sixth
game of the series, like the  one back in 1975, was always
mind-numbing, did-you-see-that, type of games.

I had been to some unbelievable games as a youngster.
I was at Game 5 of the 1976  ALCS when Chris Chambliss
hit a walk-off home run to send the Yankees into the World
Series. When Fernando Valenzuela came through New York
during his incredible rookie season in 1981, my high school
buddies and I were watching in astonishment from the fourth
row at Shea Stadium. I was sitting in the upper-deck of that same
stadium with my father in 1986, when Mookie Wilson of the Mets hit
a dribbler down the first baseline that Bill Buckner let through his legs
that allowed the winning run to score. Un-B-leave-a-ble!


That was also a Game 6 of the World Series. It was filled
with enough twists and turns to make what went down, come
up. The Red Sox were one strike away from ending the
curse of the Bambino and years of frustration, and in the
words of the immortal Dennis Green, "they let em off the
hook".

Game 6 of the 1975 and 1986 World Series at the time,
had been considered two of the greatest post-season games
in baseball history. What was it about Game 6? There always
seemed to be something about Game 6. Remember Reggie
Jacskon's 3 HR's in the 1977 World Series or Joe Carter's
walk-off winner for Toronto in 1993. Game 6 of the World
Series has sometimes even been controversial.


A year before Buckner's Blunder, it was an umpire who
helped decide a Game 6. St. Louis had been leading Kansas
City 1-0 in the 9th inning of what would've been a series
clinching win for the Cardinals. Jore Orta of KC hit a slow-roller
to first base and appeared to be out by a half-step, but
umpire Don Denkinger blew the call and called him safe.
The Cardinals melted down, lost that game and the World
Series in 7 games.

In 1991, in what was a truly spectacular World Series
between the Atlanta and Minnesota, Kirby Puckett hit a
walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to
give the Twins a victory in what had been an incredible game.
What game of the series was that? Of course, it was Game 6.


On Thursday, as the pivotal game between the Cardinals
and Rangers approached, I casual said to a friend, "it's
Game 6, something always crazy happens." But baseball
is no longer my life. It lost its grip on me a few years back.
I guess life happened and I don't consider it all that important
anymore. I had not watched one inning of this year's Fall
Classic live. Oh, sure, I saw some of the highlights, but
until I sat down on the couch on Thursday night, I hadn't
cared much about the series.


I tried to watch some of the game, but just couldn't. The
life of an insomniac isn't pretty. I was up until 4:30am that
day trying to get some kind of sleep, and after a day of
work, I made a choice to sleep rather than watch Game
6. And boy, was I having a great sleep until Mr. Insomnia
screamed in my ear at 3am. My iphone was next to my bed
so I checked it. No booty calls. Damn. Then  I checked ESPN.com.
and read, "Game 6: One for the ages," and I was like, "Man,
I knew it." David Freese, a St. Louis native, hits a walk-off
home run in a game that the experts are now callng the best one
ever played in the post-season.

And true to form it was another game 6 of the World Series
that was amazing. I watched  the highlights on my phone,
but didn't get fired up like I used to. Maybe because I 
had seen so many great moments before that it didn't
phase me, or maybe that little boy in me  that stayed up
past  mid-night to watch the 1975 World Series has died,
or perhaps just got smart  enough to know that a good night's
sleep is just more important.

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