Hooray for baseball!
New York City-based Yankees superfan and espnW contributor Amanda Rykoff will be sharing her thoughts on the World Series. Today, she celebrates the sport after the Rangers' Game 2 win over the Cardinals to even the series.
Hooray for baseball! That's how I feel after watching Thursday night's Game 2 thriller in St. Louis that tied the World Series at one game apiece.
Lots of people say baseball is boring. I'd argue that it's more entertaining than any of the other stuff on television, and I'm a compulsive TV watcher. You like drama? Thursday's game provided edge-of-your-seat, nerve-racking, down-to-the-wire tension, regardless of which team you were rooting for. Heck, my team has been eliminated, and I was legitimately nervous as the ninth inning unfolded. I wasn't cheering for either team, but I was rooting for the game of baseball to thrill and enthrall, to give us the drama we love. And we got it.
This game had it all. Starting pitchers Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia were fantastic. Although neither factored into the decision, both pitched brilliantly late into the game. It's a rare treat to watch an old-fashioned pitchers' duel, especially in the World Series.
In the field, we had two examples of spectacular defense from the Rangers' middle infield of shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler. We even had fielding miscues from All-Star first basemen Michael Young and Albert Pujols just to keep things nice and lively.
As if that wasn't enough, we had a case of déjà vu when Rangers manager Ron Washington brought in reliever Alexi Ogando to face Allen Craig. For the second straight night, Craig singled home the go-ahead run. Thanks to Craig's heroics in consecutive games, many on Twitter started asking (only half-jokingly) if a pinch-hitter could be the World Series MVP.
No Cardinals game would be complete, though, without Tony La Russa's bullpen management, and Thursday night's game did not disappoint, as the Cardinals manager used move after move to maximize every matchup. Jennie-O Turkey, which is sponsoring the pitching changes, is certainly getting their money's worth in this series.
But all of this just led up to the drama that filled the top of the ninth inning, when the Rangers scrapped, clawed, tagged up and sac-flied their way to two runs to take a 2-1 lead. Kinsler singled to lead off the inning and stole second. Andrus then singled to center to push Kinsler to third, and an error from Pujols allowed Andrus to scamper to second, putting two men in scoring position with nobody out. A sacrifice fly may not sound like the most exciting play, but when one -- from gimpy Josh Hamilton, no less -- ties the game, and another -- this time from Michael Young -- gives the team the lead, they're as exciting as any play in baseball.
Some questioned La Russa's moves, and it turns out those skeptics were right. This was the first blemish on an otherwise strong bullpen performance throughout these playoffs. Which is another reason why we watch: the drama, the suspense, the unpredictability. It's a part of the game.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz worked the bottom of the ninth for the save. Boom. Just 30 minutes earlier, we had penciled in the Cardinals with a 2-0 series lead. Now, it was tied, and we have ourselves a best-of-five series with the Rangers heading back to Texas.
The dominant narrative is that television ratings are down for this series. If you're not watching, you're missing out on two very good teams playing a great game at a high level. Game 3 is Saturday night at the Ballpark in Arlington. I know I'll be watching. I hope you will be, too. It's baseball. And there is no better show than what's playing on the diamond.