Baseball: it’s better than killing Osama bin Laden

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The problem with the playoffs is that there’s only, like, one or two games a night and after you talk about them you sort of have to wait around all day for more games.

If you’re like me, you kill that time by reading a bunch of articles in which people who never ever write or even really think much about baseball try to put it into some sort of larger context.  Is it still the national pastime? Is it still the American game? Will it still take our people out-of- doors, fill them with oxygen and give them a larger physical stoicism?  That sort of thing.

Most of them these days come down on the side of baseball being only slightly more relevant to the American scene than phonograph needles and liberty cabbage because football is rich, modern and savage and all of the the things Americans are in the early 21st century (at least the 1% who control everything anyway).  That’s OK. We see what we want to see in these things, and if a lot of people draw such conclusions there’s probably some core truth to it.

Still, I’m a total baseball homer, so I like to see the articles that find some argument for the continued relevance or even the supremacy of baseball.  Even if they contain weird comparisons and analogies that distract you from reading the rest of the piece because they’re just so jarring:

Football is more popular and has more money; basketball attracts more young sports fans … Yet baseball’s magic, on view in the playoffs, excites and rejuvenates an angry and dispirited American citizenry as almost nothing else — even killing Osama bin Laden — can.

Got that? Baseball: more uplifting and rejuvenating than a black ops mission designed to terminate an enemy of the state with extreme prejudice.

Ah, who cares? I’ll take it. Score one for baseball!

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: