Like many baseball fans, I spend the entire year waiting for playoff season.
To me, the stretch from July to November is a nonstop crescendo of euphoria. The flurry of rumors at the trade deadline gives way to the end-of-season dogfights for playoff spots, which in turn lead to four weeks of primetime match-ups between the best teams in the league.
Unfortunately, the baseball season doesn’t always end on a high note. After months of anticipation and excitement, the last few World Series have been incredibly anticlimactic.
We haven’t seen a World Series go more than five games since 2003. In eight of the last 11 years, you could count the number of World Series games on one hand.
During that span, there have been five four-game sweeps against just two seven-game dogfights.
Think back over the last decade. How many of the most memorable plays came in the World Series? Sure, the Angels’ Game Six rally in 2002 is certainly one for the history books, and it doesn’t get any better than the Diamondbacks’ comeback in Game Seven, 2001.
But, fair or not, Troy Glaus and Luis Gonzalez are not the first players most fans think of when describing a postseason legend.
Think Grady Little sticking with Pedro. Think Steve Bartman grabbing the ball and Alex S. Gonzalez missing it. Think Dave Roberts swiping second and David Ortiz swatting homers. Think of Jim Edmonds’ big fly in ‘04 and Albert Pujols’ in ’05.
None of those plays came in the World Series.
It’s incredible how a nerve-wracking set of first rounds can lead to a snoozefest of a Fall Classic. After an epic NLCS overshadowed by the Red Sox’ historic comeback, the Cardinals froze like deer in headlights in the 2004 World Series.
The Rockies came into the 2007 Fall Classic with 21 wins in 22 games; they got steamrolled by Boston. And while they weren’t quite blown out, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Cinderella story last year ended with an abrupt turn for the worse in a series that will be remembered more for the abundance of mud than the skill of the players.
That’s not to say that blowouts can’t be fun to watch. But unless you’re a big fan of the team that’s making its opponents wonder how they even made it that far in the first place, you’ll probably finish the game feeling a little unsatisfied.
There’s been plenty of postseason excitement already. We’ve seen several extra-inning nail-biters, and you could almost fill a whole bullpen with all of the closers who have collapsed. But I don’t think much of what’s happened so far will be of interest to the next generation of fans.
The potential is certainly in place for this Fall Classic to be special. It’s been nine years and nearly two billion dollars since The Best Team Money Can Buy has won the championship, and expectations are high.
The power-hitting Phillies will feel right at home in the bandbox of Yankee Stadium, and the long ball is always a great way to add some excitement.
Former teammates Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia will have their reunion in perhaps the most important game of the season. And of course, the media loves New York.
Please, baseball gods, grant us a good World Series. Keep the games close, the pitchers warm, and the excitement high. Make it a show we’ll want to watch, make it an experience we’ll want to remember.
Oh, and my answer is Phillies in six.