The 2011 MLB regular season came to an end last night. And oh what an ending it was.
First, as this is a Padres blog, let's quickly note that the Padres bookended 2011 with victories, beating the Chicago Cubs 9-2 (where were those runs all year). Changes are no doubt coming, one coming today in Randy Ready being let go (yet another hitting coach scapegoat). I'm more relieved than anything. 2011 was a trying season, made more so with the memory of 2010 so fresh in our mind. It was a struggle, it was tough to watch, and at times it just wasn't fun. But I still miss it. And hope for brighter days.
Because on the same night the Padres were finishing their 71-91 campaign, across Major League Baseball games were happening that reminded me how fun watching this game can be, and showed me a world that one day I hope the Padres exist within.
Was September 28, 2011 the greatest regular season day in MLB history? I don't know about that. But I can say with no hyperbole that I've never experienced a regular night of baseball like I did on Wednesday.
Some quick thoughts, as I don't even think I can put my thoughts into a coherent paragraph.
- I left work at roughly 5pm Pacific. The Rays were down 5-0 at that point. I got home and somehow it was 7-0. I stopped paying attention to this game at this point, turning my attention and all my fandom I could muster toward Baltimore.
- The Braves had a 3-1 lead at this point. As the Cardinals were well ahead of Houston, I pretty much assumed this was must win for Atlanta at this point. I was rooting for this, simple so we could have a Game 163.
- Went to get In N' Out for dinner. I came back just in time to see Evan Longoria hit a grand slam to get the Rays within 1. WHAT?!?!?!?!
- Boston was up 3-2 when..rain came. I contemplated whether MLB would call the game as it was the middle of the 7th with Boston up 3-2. It seemed like a very Bud Selig-y thing to do.
- The Braves are still up. No big deal there for the time being.
- I'm fully focused on the Rays game right now. Down 1, bottom of the 9th, and some guy named Dan Johnson is batting. No idea who this guy is, time to focus on hoping for rain to let up in Baltimore and an Oriole comeba....WHAT?!?!
- Dan Johnson, with 2 strikes, just saved the Rays season. Unbelievable! I'm cheering like I grew up in Tampa.
- Rain is over in Baltimore. Still, I'm rooting for an Oriole comeback here. That is not filling me with any kind of confidence.
- What's this? Hunter Pence just broken bat killed the Braves. Anguish on the fans faces. I've been there.
- The Braves get their last crack to avoid being on the infamous "Worst Collapse" list. They know it's over, you know it's over, their fans know it's over. Guess what, it's over. Cardinals in.
- At this point the Red Sox/Orioles game and the Rays/Yankees game blend together. Here's what I remember: 1) The Orioles defense came to play. Great relay throw to cut down a run at home, getting out of jam after jam. And then, Papelbon. There's really nothing I enjoy more than watching Papelbon blow a save...except when Brian Wilson does it. That double to the gap was delicious. Just delicious. Tie game. Andino's line drive to left, which I didn't think Crawford would catch but I also didn't think the Orioles would send the runner. He didn't, they did, game over. My favorite part of all this was how much Baltimore celebrated. They went nuts and good for them. This was the biggest game of their season. They played as hard as any team would, as if it were Game 7. It was fantastic. I felt great for their fans, who, for three days were one of the most relevant teams in baseball. And everyone outside New England was an Oriole fan.
2) I switched the channel just in time to see Evan Longoria go all Mark McGwire circa #62 on the Yankees, walk-off style.
Like that, the Red Sox were eliminated. Good riddance. I don't like their money, their arrogance, and their sense of entitlement. I will say I enjoyed their stadium, and the few fans I met in Boston were pleasant.
But fuck them.
It was great. It was fantastic. It was the most fun I've had watching baseball in awhile. And I'm looking forward to more in October.