The agony and the ecstasy of playoffs

The baseball playoffs are on another level of sports enjoyment.  These games are not relaxing, as baseball usually is, at least if you have a favorite team in the mix.  You find yourselves fixating on every pitch.  The games are intense, suspenseful, stressful.  To be sure, they are great fun, but they are draining and exhausting.  This year, in the first round, every one of the best-of-five contests went to five games, the first time that has ever happened.

I stayed up until well after midnight watching the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Nationals, my new home team, jumped to a 6-0 lead after three innings.  But the Cardinals chipped away.  In the 9th inning, the Nationals led by two points, 7-5.   With two outs, the reliable closer Drew Storen on the mound, though with the bases loaded, the team and its fans could taste victory, especially after two strikes to low-in-the-batting-order Daniel Descalso.  But then he hit a two-run single!  The score was tied!  Once again, Storen, letting Descalso steal a base so with runners on 1st & 3rd, had the next batter, Pete Kozma, down to the last strike.  And he got a hit, putting the Cardinals ahead 9-7 for the win!

It could have gone so many different ways.  The Cardinals had two last-bat, last-strike miracles in a row.  But then again, this is exactly the kind of things that the Cardinals did last year, over and over again, in the playoffs and then in winning the World Series.  So now I’m going to pull for the Cardinals, though I’m not sure how many games I can take.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Yankees fan. Tough duty these days – down 2-0 to the Tigers, Jeter out, umpires very obviously conspiring against them and they’ve forgotten how to hit the little round white thing. Maybe Raul Ibanez has more magic stored up.

  • Pete

    Yankees fan. Tough duty these days – down 2-0 to the Tigers, Jeter out, umpires very obviously conspiring against them and they’ve forgotten how to hit the little round white thing. Maybe Raul Ibanez has more magic stored up.

  • Nitpicker

    “the Nationals led by two points, 7-5″

    Dr. Veith,

    Points? You must have been asleep. Baseball has runs.

  • Nitpicker

    “the Nationals led by two points, 7-5″

    Dr. Veith,

    Points? You must have been asleep. Baseball has runs.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete:

    Being a Yankees fan is one of the worst things one could be in the world. How? How is is possible to root for them in good conscience? It’s a team full of egomaniacs, cheaters, and jerks!

    /Orioles fan.
    //And in the Tigers games, it looked to me like the umps were out to get Detroit.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete:

    Being a Yankees fan is one of the worst things one could be in the world. How? How is is possible to root for them in good conscience? It’s a team full of egomaniacs, cheaters, and jerks!

    /Orioles fan.
    //And in the Tigers games, it looked to me like the umps were out to get Detroit.

  • Pete

    Cincinnatus:

    Au contraire – being a Yankees fan is one of the best things to be. It’s easy. Most of the time they win. Aren’t they the most successful sports franchise of all time? Put it in the category of “no-brainer”.

    This post-season is tough, though. The umpires have obviously conspired against them.

    Don’t forget Ecclesiastes 10:19 – “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.”

    I’m thinking Cabrera would look great in pinstripes.

  • Pete

    Cincinnatus:

    Au contraire – being a Yankees fan is one of the best things to be. It’s easy. Most of the time they win. Aren’t they the most successful sports franchise of all time? Put it in the category of “no-brainer”.

    This post-season is tough, though. The umpires have obviously conspired against them.

    Don’t forget Ecclesiastes 10:19 – “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything.”

    I’m thinking Cabrera would look great in pinstripes.

  • Pete

    And BCYW (Bronx cheer your way.)

  • Pete

    And BCYW (Bronx cheer your way.)

  • L. H. Kevil

    In game 5 Storen made the same pitches that had been successful before. But before and during game 5 the Cardinals’ hitting coach, Mark McGwire, told the team how to handle Storen’s pitches. See the link below for some telling detail.

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/the-story-of-the-comeback-in-the-players-own-words/article_ad89829d-aec3-5940-b860-c88ff288a7af.html

    But what I noticed was that the Nationals were intimidated by the Cardinals. Why? They had the best record in the majors. Baseball can be (should be) a true team sport; the Cardinals are a very dangerous team because of the glue that unites and motivates the individual players. This yeast leavened the whole Cardinals loaf. Thank Tony LaRussa with or despite his old-fashioned notions of leadership for this. The current manager, Mike Matheny, has skillfully picked up where LaRussa left off. (Again the link above gives hints as to how this played out throughout game 5.)

    Speaking of Matheny, not many know about his work with baseball in schools. His letter to the parents of the young boys he was going to coach is a tribune to him and mostly to what role sport and baseball should play in character development. It’s a rebuke to the Al Davis school and contains wise counsel to parents of boys playing baseball. Here’s a link to his letter to the parents:

    http://www.mac-n-seitz.com/teams/mike-matheny-letter.html

    Gene, how could an Oklahoma boy have given his allegiance to a Canadian import in the capital when his home state is a big part of Cardinal nation? Remember the Dean brothers? Don’t forget Pete Kozma and all the others in between.

    How sweet would be another meeting of the Cards and the Tigers in the World series. Note: Jim Leyland, the Tiger manager, was a Cardinal scout for a few years and is very close to Tony LaRussa.

    L. H. Kevil, lifelong Cardinal irredentist hoping the Cardinals reclaim their rightful position in the great game of baseball with their 12th World Series title in 2012.

  • L. H. Kevil

    In game 5 Storen made the same pitches that had been successful before. But before and during game 5 the Cardinals’ hitting coach, Mark McGwire, told the team how to handle Storen’s pitches. See the link below for some telling detail.

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/the-story-of-the-comeback-in-the-players-own-words/article_ad89829d-aec3-5940-b860-c88ff288a7af.html

    But what I noticed was that the Nationals were intimidated by the Cardinals. Why? They had the best record in the majors. Baseball can be (should be) a true team sport; the Cardinals are a very dangerous team because of the glue that unites and motivates the individual players. This yeast leavened the whole Cardinals loaf. Thank Tony LaRussa with or despite his old-fashioned notions of leadership for this. The current manager, Mike Matheny, has skillfully picked up where LaRussa left off. (Again the link above gives hints as to how this played out throughout game 5.)

    Speaking of Matheny, not many know about his work with baseball in schools. His letter to the parents of the young boys he was going to coach is a tribune to him and mostly to what role sport and baseball should play in character development. It’s a rebuke to the Al Davis school and contains wise counsel to parents of boys playing baseball. Here’s a link to his letter to the parents:

    http://www.mac-n-seitz.com/teams/mike-matheny-letter.html

    Gene, how could an Oklahoma boy have given his allegiance to a Canadian import in the capital when his home state is a big part of Cardinal nation? Remember the Dean brothers? Don’t forget Pete Kozma and all the others in between.

    How sweet would be another meeting of the Cards and the Tigers in the World series. Note: Jim Leyland, the Tiger manager, was a Cardinal scout for a few years and is very close to Tony LaRussa.

    L. H. Kevil, lifelong Cardinal irredentist hoping the Cardinals reclaim their rightful position in the great game of baseball with their 12th World Series title in 2012.

  • Cincinnatus

    Sorry, L.H. Kevil, all I read was a bunch of stuff about the National League, and I stopped reading. Because, really, who cares about the National League?

    Those animals let the pitcher bat!

  • Cincinnatus

    Sorry, L.H. Kevil, all I read was a bunch of stuff about the National League, and I stopped reading. Because, really, who cares about the National League?

    Those animals let the pitcher bat!

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I’m an Orioles fan (props Cincinatus).
    The extra innings are ruining my sleep. All that drama and the Evil Empire still ekes out a victory.

    #6 Re:La Russa; I know the statisticians say managers have small impact (about the same as reliever) but I wonder if their contribution to teamwork and team spirit is larger than their decision making role.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I’m an Orioles fan (props Cincinatus).
    The extra innings are ruining my sleep. All that drama and the Evil Empire still ekes out a victory.

    #6 Re:La Russa; I know the statisticians say managers have small impact (about the same as reliever) but I wonder if their contribution to teamwork and team spirit is larger than their decision making role.

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete:

    Unless you’re actually from NYC, you’re just another bandwaggoner who rootes for the winner. Un-American!

  • Cincinnatus

    Pete:

    Unless you’re actually from NYC, you’re just another bandwaggoner who rootes for the winner. Un-American!

  • DonS

    The good thing about the Nationals losing in the first round of the playoffs, because of a pitching collapse, is that no team will ever again shut down one of their best healthy pitchers for the season, including the playoffs, because of some kind of imaginary innings count limit. The opportunity to make the playoffs in baseball is rare for most teams, and deserves an all-out effort.

  • DonS

    The good thing about the Nationals losing in the first round of the playoffs, because of a pitching collapse, is that no team will ever again shut down one of their best healthy pitchers for the season, including the playoffs, because of some kind of imaginary innings count limit. The opportunity to make the playoffs in baseball is rare for most teams, and deserves an all-out effort.

  • Pete

    Cincinnatus @9:

    Born upstate – not in the city. But cut my teeth on Mantle, Maris, Ford, Howard, etc. But un-American? Un-American?!? I defy you to visit any berg inside or outside our country and not find someone wearing a Yankee’s hat. And what’s so wrong with winning?

  • Pete

    Cincinnatus @9:

    Born upstate – not in the city. But cut my teeth on Mantle, Maris, Ford, Howard, etc. But un-American? Un-American?!? I defy you to visit any berg inside or outside our country and not find someone wearing a Yankee’s hat. And what’s so wrong with winning?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X