“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.” — Ty Cobb
Cobb uttered those words over 80 years ago.
Tonight, during the final gasp of baseball’s 2011 regular season, we were given an astounding, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding and intoxicating verification of the quote’s utter and absolute truth.
Four teams entered the evening with a shot at postseason life. After two extra-innings contests, an hour-long rain delay in Baltimore, three separate blown save opportunities, and a whole host of failures and heroics in between, only the Rays and Cardinals popped champagne.
From Chris Carpenter’s two-hit shutout in Houston, to Evan Longoria’s two-homer night in Tampa Bay, the baseball gods were beaming. And at the same time tugging mercilessly on the heartstrings of Braves and Red Sox supporters, who witnessed their teams finish off historic tumbles to the wrong side of history.
What other sport can possibly demand that 2,430 games be completed before crowning all of its yearly postseason invitees? Baseball is cruel. Its schedule is an unrelenting beast. But we soak it up. We read, we write, we analyze, we yell, we scream. And we ask questions. So many damn questions.
Then the game gives back with a night like this, rendering our mouths and minds inconsequential. We’re all morons at baseball’s mercy. Throw out the numbers. Forget the payrolls. It’s on to October.