Posts Tagged ‘World Series’

Game 7 of the World Series last night.

What was there not to like?

For me, the shocking victory by the underdog Washington Nationals over the Houston Astros seemed like the universe was setting things right in a karmic sense.

The Nationals, the oldest team in major league baseball with the youngest superstar in Juan Soto, made an improbable run through the later part of the regular season and into the playoffs, becoming the first team to win all of their World Series victories on their opponent’s home field. That in itself goes against all the odds.

Just like the odds in May from the bookmakers in Las Vegas that had the Nationals chances of winning the series as 1.5%.

Maybe it was a gift from karma for them getting rid of Bryce Harper?

Or maybe it was a nod from karma for the Nationals crowd loudly booing the president* both at his appearance in game 5 and at a viewing party at Nationals Park in the rain last night?

I believe that was just a case of the crowd adhering to the old baseball adage that says: I calls ’em like I sees ’em.

And they got that call right.

Or maybe the karma came in the fact that the pitcher who got the final three outs was the Nationals’ Daniel Hudson and not Robert Osuna, the controversial Astros closer.

Hudson missed an earlier playoff game so that he could be with his wife as she gave birth and Osuna was arrested last year for domestic violence for beating the mother of his child. He was passed over by a number of teams but the Astros picked him up.

But the karma payback might have come in response to the Astros’ earlier defense of one of their executives, Brandon Taubman, who, in the clubhouse after the Astros won the American League pennant, taunted some female reporters, one who had written about domestic violence in sports, with an expletive filled rant that invoked Osuna’s name. The Astros’ management at first defended Taubman and said that it was totally misrepresented in the public accounts. But the Astros were later forced, after several witnesses to the event came forward, that they had been wrong and fired Taubman.

That might have been too late for the Astros– karma was already in motion.

My faith in humanity might not be fully restored yet but my faith in baseball and karma certainly has returned. It makes me believe that karma is now ready to move on from baseball and clear up some other pressing matters.

And it’s coming with a heavy hammer…

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Rajah Hornsby QuoteWell, the Kansas City Royals won the World Series last night.  I’ve never been a huge NY Mets fan  even when we used to go to a lot of their games when I was a kid but I really like this team’s spunkiness, especially among their young players and starting pitchers.

The Mets had the lead late in three of the games they lost but just couldn’t withstand  KC’s determined late-inning charges.  KC had lost in the World Series last year and they brought the lessons learned to these games.  They deserved to win and should get all the accolades and parades that will be coming their way especially from their fans in Kansas City where it has been 30 years since they last won the Series.

But for fans of the Mets and all the other teams, today is a big letdown, the beginning of four or five months of waiting for spring without baseball.  Like me, they all can readily agree with the words above from the Rajah, Rogers Hornsby.  He was one of my favorites baseball names when I was a kid, along with Napoleon LaJoie and Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown and probably the best hitter that modern fans have never heard of.  As they say today, the guy could rake.

I know I’ll miss that part of my day when I scan the scores and the standing or check the stats.  So, like the Rajah, I’ll sit and stare out the window, waiting for spring.


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Comeback Cards!

Up late last night watching one of the greater games you’ll ever see in the World Series.  The St. Louis Cardinals made an improbable comeback not once, but twice, both times down to their last strike to end the game.  The game stretched into extra innings and ended after a towering walk-off home run from David Freese of the Cards sent the St. Louis crowd into a frenzy and the Texas Rangers slouching to their clubhouse.  There, the plastic that had been draped over their lockers to protect them from the champagne that was supposed to be popping in celebration had been rolled up and hovered above the downcast players like a symbolic Sword of Damocles.

Even though my team is not here, I am loving this Series and these Cardinals.  I grew up a Cards fan, worshipping Bob Gibson and his teammates, but have strayed away over the years.  So I can’t say they’re my team.  But this team has such a gritty guttiness that I can’t help but root for them.  In the regular season, they staged one of the great comebacks of all time, coming from 10 1/2 games back  just to squeak into the playoffs where they upset the heavily favored Phillies.  They have been big  underdogs here in the Series but somehow keep fighting back against the stacked Rangers.  I keep expecting Nolan Ryan’s head to literally explode at some point during these tense games.

The beauty of the Cards is that they are doing it with players who are not big names, outside of the legendary status of Albert Pujols.  For example, John Jay is an outfielder who has looked so out of his class through much of this series but somehow comes up with two bigs hits in the tightest situations, when the enthusiasm of the Cardinal fans was beginning to wane.  The same for Daniel Descalso, a utility player who will not be showing up on any fantasy baseball rosters anytime soon.  I can’t help but root for guys who don’t realize and don’t care that nobody is expecting them to win.  They are dong something all the big names who didn’t make it this far couldn’t do— playing in the moment.

So, I guess I’ll be watching the Cards tonight and even if they don’t complete what appears to an appointment with destiny by winning, I will watch to the last out.  You never know what these Cardiac Cards are capable of.

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Jose Feliciano at the 1968 World Series

In 1968, in that turbulent year that saw Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinated and war protesters rioting in the streets, there was a controversial incident at the 1968 World Series.  It seems so minor in the scale of retrospection but I find it very interesting and symbolic of how we as a people resist the inevitability of change.

In October of 1968, the musician Jose Feliciano was asked by legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell to perform the National Anthem a before one of the World Series games in Detroit between the Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.  Feliciano performed a slow and slightly jazzy version, much in the style for which he was known.  Little did he know, it inspired a storm of controversy.

This was before anyone had performed stylized versions of the song, before the crashing fury of Hendrix’ version or any of the myriad other versions since.  It is said that World War II vets were throwing their shoes at their televisions and the network switchboards were swamped with angry calls.  Soon, many radio stations refused to play Feliciano’s music altogether and his career went into a tailspin that took three years for him to overcome.

When I hear the version now, I am mystified by the reaction of the time.  It is a respectful and lovely version, perhaps not as bombastic or as confident as some like in their national anthem.  And certainly not as ridiculous and disrespectful as some versions since.  But we were a country in turmoil and our confidence was surely shaken by all that was happening around us.  The world seemed to be changing every day and in ways that seemed out of the control of the average person. 

 Much like today.

Here are two short videos.  The first is Jose Feliciano telling the story and the second is the recording of that performance from 1968.  Tell me this isn’t a beautiful version of the song.

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