Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh What A Night!

There are some years when the Mets frustrate me to the point when I simply forget about baseball once they're eliminated from the playoffs.  The 2007 and 2008 campaigns are good examples.  Following those heartbreaking exits I didn't watch a single inning of post season play.  Luckily for me this is not one of those years, as last night was without question one of the best nights in major league history.

As most of you probably know, the Cardinals and Braves entered the day in a dead heat for the NL Wild Card.  At the same time, the Red Sox and Rays were in the same position in the AL.  The Cardinals took care of business early, punishing the Astros by a score of 8-0, but the other participants would not go out without theatrics.  To set the scene for anyone who wasn't paying attention, the Braves and Phillies played to 13 innings, the Rays and Yankees played to 12 and the Red Sox and Orioles game was delayed by rain which lined everything up...perfectly, with all three games carrying well past midnight.

1) Braves could not tie the game in the bottom of the 13th, following a Hunter Pence RBI single in the top half of the inning for the Phillies.  The loss eliminated the Braves from playoff contention and completed the then largest September (8.5 games) collapse in MLB history, a crown previously held by the 2007 Mets (7 games).

2) The Red Sox entered the final day of the season 77-0 when leading after eight innings.  Therefore, when Jonathan Papelbon entered the bottom of the ninth staked to a 3-2 lead, everyone assumed the Sox would hold on, but that wasn't the case.  Down to their final out, Nolan Reimold would hit a ground rule double to drive in Kyle Hudson and tie the game for the Orioles.  Robert Andino then immediately dropped a two out single in front of a sliding Carl Crawford to complete the comeback for the O's, turning the Red Sox to scoreboard watchers with the Rays still playing in Tampa.

3) All you need to know is that the Rays trailed the Yankees 7-0 entering the eighth inning.  They would get six back in the 8th and would ultimately end up tying the game on a two out, two strike home run by pinch hitter, Dan Johnson.  Playing into the twelfth inning, Evan Longoria would hit a playoff clinching home run that just cleared the wall in the left field corner within two, yes TWO minutes of the Red Sox loss.  The Rays win quickly stripped the Braves of their unwanted collapse crown, as the Red Sox had blown a 9 game September lead.

It was as if this was all scripted, in what I can only describe as the MLB equivalent of March Madness, as everything happened within the tiny window of maybe ten minutes.  The silver lining to this for many of us is that the Mets would exit the night with the third worse September collapse in baseball history.  Still not a great stat to have, but now not as depressingly bad.  The Mets may have fallen short of October baseball yet again, but I'm glad that I was able to catch history elsewhere this year.  It should be a good playoffs and after last night, I'll be certain to tune in!