Saturday, March 07, 2009

I'm glad Joey Votto is on my team.

What an awesome day for baseball.

A man who played a game for a living sat in a dugout with his fingers to his neck. Forty-two thousand people, feet planted firmly in a standing position, roared thunder into a great white dome as the clean up hitter dug into the batter’s box. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, man on second, down one run. It was the classic Hollywood situation brought very much to life under the glare of an international spotlight.

The man checking his pulse was the one responsible for the outcome of the game. A last minute roster replacement, only fate had put him in the dugout, and he had delivered with one hit, two walks, and two runs. That one hit was the difference maker, a two run bomb that put Team USA up 6-3 at the time of the blast. (Oh Adam, first in war, first in peace, last in the National League East.)

What a joyous sight it was to see a stadium filled with so many enthusiastic fans for a fledgling tournament with a vocal opposition. Canadians brandished maple leaves and the Stars and Stripes responded with a choral minority. Venezuelans, too, were well represented as they waited for the next game, their violent yellow announcing their presence with authority. But. USA! USA! USA!

This was a beautiful baseball game. If your heart wasn’t racing like Adam Dunn’s, you’re probably dead. And if you didn’t watch it, you should be dead. (Ha ha, just kidding on that last part. But you did miss a hell of a game.) The intensity was astounding, the mood festive, the passion deep and genuine. If you love the game with the little white sphere, this was the game for you.

Dunner had a brief but great interview after the game, an interview in which he said flat out he’d never been to the playoffs but this was what he thought the playoffs were like. And you could see in his eyes and hear in his voice and feel with your soul that the excitement he felt was unlike anything he’d known. Playoff atmosphere it was, indeed. He had a big game in a game that mattered. As a Reds fan, one has to wonder what he could have done in autumn baseball. As a Nats fan, I know he isn’t going to get that any time soon. As a Dunn fan, I have just conjured up this bizarre scenario in my imagination where the Reds are in first place at the trade deadline but realize they need a power bat if they are to make it to the promised land, and without Jimbo at the helm, a trade can return him to his rightful place in leftfield (with all due respect to Chris Dickerson and whoever else may play there.)

What a game.

A kid with a kid’s name comes up to the plate for his first at bat, see, this canuck, and he stares at one of the best pitchers in the game and says, whatever, and promptly singles. But that wasn’t good enough. Next at bat, he mashes one into the rightfield stands to put his team up 2-1. And you really have to watch him. He has It. He has The Thing. Oh, yes, he had an excellent rookie season the previous year, would have won rookie of the year if this other kid who played a tougher position for a better club hadn’t had a season equally as good. But this canuck, see, he has The Beauty and you don’t see that very often in your life. Ken Griffey, Jr. had The Beauty and now he has the ghost of The Beauty but it’s still beautiful. So Joey Votto isn’t content with his single and his homer and singles again later in the game, when his team is down and needs to score. And then he comes up in the ninth inning with his team down by two runs and what does he do but hits a double that scores the fifth run for his team.

I can’t wait to see this guy play October baseball with Cincinnati stitched across his chest.

That brings up Jason Bay. Votto, who is not slow, is pinch run for, and I don't know anything about the pinch runner except he looked like Votto if Votto weren't a pinup boy. Same body, different face. A little scrawnier, I guess. Oh man, this was a great battle. I was at least chewing on my fingers or something like that because I did feel like this was the playoffs and I was definitely sitting on the edge of the couch and I felt my heart in my throat but I was torn. I rooted with all of my being for the one who will someday be The Best Canadian To Ever Play The Game to get a hit and he did and secretly I had wanted a homer to tie it up. I know, I know, in this day and age a person is never satisfied, right? Well, I am rooting for Team USA in the tournament because USA! USA! USA! but I am also rooting for Reds players and I saw our canuck in the dugout after the game and he was so sad but Dunner was so happy and oh my god I don't know what to think because I'm happy and sad at the exact same time and well, We won.

That was a darn good baseball game.

(You can get the full game recap here. I’m not here to regurgitate things you can find on any other website in the vast of the world wide web.)


Anonymous said...

Hey! I can't wait to watch the last four innings. I got to watch 1-5 before I had to give the wife the remote control...

Cincinnati's three men, Joey, Adam and Youkalis all three homered - nice day for Cincy.

Looking forward to see the rest (it was 6-4 when I relinquished the remote...

-Gary M.

The Shuster said...

That was perhaps the most exciting game I've seen ever. Funny what a little Canada / USA rivalry does to ones perception. With luck we will get a rematch on Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming The Shuster can impossibly be old enough to remember the 6th game of the 1975 World Series, or the 5th game of the 1972 National League Championship Series?

-Gary Maloy