By Aaron M. Smith
"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. ... And summer is gone."
-- Bart Giamatti
Moments after Boston's Carlton Fisk smacked his epic homerun that just did stay fair, Cincinnati's Pete Rose turned to his manager Sparky Anderson.
"Wow," he said with a smile. "What a game."
Sparky, naturally, was too distraught to soak in the majesty of the scintillating game, but Rose understood that although the Reds let one get away, they still had another chance.
"Don't worry, Spark," Rose said. "We'll get Game Seven."
And Cincinnati did. But ask 100 baseball fans who won the 1975 World Series, I bet half will say Boston, citing Fisk's dramatic walk-off home run.
Fast forward to October 27, 2011. Game Six of the World Series. It was one of the most incredible, unforgettable finishes in World Series history. And that is no hyperbole. The Texas Rangers, looking for its first World Series title, were one strike away from a series win ... twice. In back-to-back innings. Leading 7-5 in the 9th inning with two outs, David Freese drilled a triple with two runners on to tie it. After the Rangers went ahead 9-7 on a mammoth 2-run homer by Josh Hamilton, they seemingly had their long-awaited title. But yet again, the Cardinals scored two runs in the 10th to send it to the 11th inning. The Rangers had nothing left.
And in the bottom of the 11th, Freese led off the inning with a 3-2 blast to center that was as epic as Fisk's. As incredible as Kirby Puckett's Game 6 bomb that had Jack Buck screaming, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" As Freese's homer cleared the fence, Jack's son Joe Buck, calling the game on FOX, echoed his father's closing ... "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"
This series is nearly a mirror of the '75 series. If the Rangers win, people outside of Texas will most likely remember the series for Freese's heroics. And why not? It was unforgettable. If the Cardinals win, it could go down as one of the all-time best World Series. This series has had it all from great pitching, clutch hitting, brilliant strategy, incredible goofs (bullpen phone-gate). All of this, including the gaffes, have made this one entertaining finale to the baseball season.
Baseball can be beautiful. And even with five errors and a handful of wild pitches, last night's game was beautiful. Being a Cincinnati Reds fan, I have a certain dislike for the Cardinals. But how you can not respect the way they fought to the end in Game Six? It was incredible. Inspiring. Unbelievable. You name it. I cannot wait for tonight's Game Seven. The two greatest words in sports. Game Seven.
With no pitchers left with any stamina, the pressure of an elimination game, and temperatures dipping into the low 40s, tonight promises to be a thrilling free-for-all for the World Series title.
You can't ask for anything more than that.