Of AIM, Baseball, and Superstition

I knew today was going to be good.  I just didn’t know it was going to be this good.  I spent the last few hours of my life sitting directly in front of my television watching baseball, with my laptop in front of me feeding information to me about the games I couldn’t watch.  As a Rays fan, I settled in to watch the Rays put up a big number against rookie pitcher Dellin Betences hoping to clinch the Wild Card spot tonight, and at the same time as a Cubs fan keeping tabs on the Cardinals/Astros and Phillies/Braves rooting against the Cardinals.  David Price started off the game struggling, but only allowed one run in the first inning, so the Rays were still in it, I hadn’t given up hope yet.  And then the Mark Teixeira grand slam in the second inning, that was deflating.

Up by five runs, Joe Girardi appeared to no longer be too occupied with winning the game, than with exercising his pitchers.  Seriously though, who sends out eleven pitchers in a regular season game?  Anyway, I kept watching the Rays game hoping for a comeback and all I got was more pain; Mark Teixeira hits another home run to stretch the lead to 6 in the fourth, and then Andruw Jones sends another one deep to make it 7-0 Yankees in the fifth.  At this point, I had had enough, I picked up my remote and flipped over to the Cardinals/Astros game to see what was happening there, and to not watch the Rays.  Seeing that the Cards were up 7-0 on the Astros also, I knew how this game was going to end and so I began trying to find the Braves game to listen to on the MLB AtBat app on my phone, and being stuck in the middle of nowhere, my mobile network was not supporting this cause.

So, next game on the agenda available on tv: Phillies/Braves, and I tuned in just in time for extras.  And so, while watching the Braves battle for Game 163, I’m talking to my friend Mike on AIM about the baseball currently being played, and the inefficiency of owning Brett Myers on a fantasy baseball team this season, and also the Red Sox/Orioles game went into a rain delay with the Sox leading 3-2.  At this point, the best I’m rooting for the Orioles to somehow rise up and allow the Rays to keep playoff hopes alive with a one game playoff.  Then, all of a sudden this message comes in from Mike on AIM, “Don’t call it a comeback”.  He informs me that Sam Fuld walks with the bases loaded to push the Rays first run across the plate in the 8th inning, and I discount it as a meaningless run, only to make the loss not look as bad tomorrow.  And then Sean Rodriguez gets hit, score now 7-2, I still think of it only as a meaningless run.  And THEN, B.J. Upton hits a sacrifice fly, to make score 7-3, Rays mounting a serious attack.  AND THEN I get the message “Longo went deep/7-6″, and at this point I’m going bonkers, and I get superstitious.

I continued to watch the Phillies/Braves game on my television, and the volume was low from my unproductive attempts to listen to that game on my phone, so I didn’t dare touch the volume, or even have any music playing on my laptop, I watched in absolute silence.  And, since the Rays began this comeback while I wasn’t watching I refused to return to the Rays game, and I even shielded my eyes from any clips from the game and any mention of the score.  More than that, I refused to leave my seat.  On AIM I fed Mike information from the Braves game, while he fed me information from the Rays game and I refused to refer to the location of the Braves game as anything but Atlanta, and also refused to type “Game 163″ to keep in line with my superstition.

Fast forward a bit, the message, “TARPS OFF!” comes in, and that’s when it starts getting crazy…er.  Braves are tight-roping around danger in the top of the 11th when this comes in, “GONE!/OFF THE POLE!”  7-7, you’ve got to be kidding me.  And it gets better when I find out that that shot was hit by Dan Johnson, a man who hadn’t hit a home run in the majors since April 8th (he’s hit a few home runs in AAA Durham since then, but that just makes this more dramatic).  Flash forward to the bottom of the 9th, the Rays bring in Kyle Farnsworth, a reliever that Cubs fans and Royals fans (Mike) know all too well; commence worrying of a terrible implosion.  Meanwhile, the Braves are still battling, leading off the bottom of the 12th with a Jason Heyward single, followed by a Jack Wilson sacrifice bunt to move Heyward to second tied at 3 with one out.  While Farnsworth works his way out of a jam in St. Pete, Justin De Fratus works himself out of his own jam stranding Heyward at third in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Top 13 in Atlanta, Braves are able to get two men on, and advance them both on a passed ball from Scott Linebrink with Hunter Pence at the dish.  In that at bat, Pence proceeds to “melt faces,” (he doesn’t hit bloopers, you know) and singled home a run for the Phillies to take the lead 4-3.  Braves finally work out of the inning but the damage has been done, and their chances of making the playoffs have been narrowed, and the prospect of the Cardinals winning the wild card has all but materialized.  Bottom of the 13th rolls around, I watch Chipper Jones strike out on a pitch low and away, and then watch Dan Uggla walk, to put the tying run aboard and representing the winning run at the plate was Freddie Freeman.  Freeman works the count full, and then grounds into a 3-6-3 twin killing- game over, season over, disappointment reigns.  So at this point, I have no game to watch on TV besides the Rays game, which due to superstition I was refusing to watch, so I watch the Braves post game show in absolute silence, still hoping for a Rays win.

Go forward about 20 minutes, this exchange happens:

Mike: Paps blows it

Me: you’re kidding me

Mike: rbi ground rule 2b

for Reimold

Me: and?

Mike: he’s at 2nd

2 outs

Me: score?

Mike: 3s

Me: incroyable

Mike: RED SOX LOSE!

At this point, I begin to relax, knowing that even if the Rays still lose this game, they still have the safety net of Game 163 against the red Sox.  FOUR MINUTES LATER, this message from Mike, “LONGO GO BOOM!”  Rays win, Rays win the Wild Card, Rays going to the playoffs.  Holy smokes.  Red Sox Nation, I send my condolences.

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2 Responses to Of AIM, Baseball, and Superstition

  1. Chris Ross says:

    Very good article. Amazingly a blown save costing a team a chance at the playoffs on the last day of the season could be overshadowed but the Boston Red Sox and Jonathan Papelbon did it with a little help from a walk-off from Longoria. The Braves are sure getting a pass right now and it must hurt for an Atlanta fan base that thought they finally might have another chance at doing something special in the playoffs a month ago. The Braves are one of those franchises that constantly come up with talent but haven’t been able to make the jump to World Series winner. It’s tough but with a collapse of that magnitude as well you just don’t deserve it. I’m really happy for the Rays. They put together a real team effort and despite losing so many key guys during the off-season were able to make one of the most spectacular comebacks in all of sports history. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I’d love to hear what you have to say. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/how-can-you-not-laugh/

  2. JD says:

    Not just any blown save, but a blown save from the man that set the rookie record for saves in a season. Give the braves a few years, and they’ll be back to their form similar of the early 2000s

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