You will need to live a very long time indeed to see another inning of baseball that even approaches last night’s utterly epic ALDS-deciding match between Toronto and Texas.
So much has already been written about the game by far better writers, I won’t bore you with another blow-by-blow account. But certainly Toronto has experienced nothing like it since Joe Carter touched ‘em all in 1993.
Last night was the reason kids get excited about sports. It’s why adults go to the fields and rinks to coach. It was the essence of sports boiled down to the gooey, sticky, messy, wonderous residue of what is left when all of the drama, excitement, frustration, hope, hopelessness and optimism are stripped away and all that is left is will to win and the question of who wants it more.
Texas deserved to lose. Basically through errors in the field the Rangers gave Toronto five outs in the bottom of the 9th after taking a one-run lead on a play so rare and unscripted that it could not be imagined outside of the most nonsensical Hollywood script. I could have pulled three guys off the GO train who with me could have made at least two of the plays that the Rangers booted.
And you can’t give a team like Toronto five outs in an inning while you decide to kick the ball around the infield. Because if you do, Jose happens.
It was an epic moment in the sporting history – heck, the history PERIOD – of Toronto.
But I’m going to go all buzz-kill here and point out two things.
First, Toronto has really won nothing at all. The Blue Jays won a quarter-final series – with the hearts of champions and true grit, for sure – but it was still just a quarterfinal. Full points to them for winning three straight elimination games, but it’s not 1993 yet.
Did the Chicago Blackhawks party for two days after winning a quarterfinal in the NHL last spring? No. There was no champagne. It was just another series that had to be won in a hockey marathon. And so it should be for the Jays, if they have learned anything at all about the stupid way the team took its foot off the gas after clinching the division title last month.
Second, it was a great moment in a memorable inning in an elimination game. But it is way down the list of great Canadian sporting moments.
In 2010, Canada defeated the USA for hockey gold at the winter Olympics WE hosted in Vancouver. If Sidney Crosby had not scored, if Canada had not won, if Canada had ended up settling for silver, I can assure you that grown men and women would still, to this day, be unable to function. Curled up in fetal positions, gathering dust in family rooms and bars where they fell to the floor, we would have mourned for the rest of time. There would have been a royal commission into the state of hockey.
That victory was the ultimate Canadian moment. In overtime. In a championship game. In a game of our best versus everyone else’s best. In our rink. With our kids playing.
I hope the Jays continue to roll – my kids deserve a Toronto team to be excited about and the city is a happier, friendlier, sillier place while the run continues.
But the truth is they haven’t won a thing yet. I will reserve my real excitement for a spot in the World Series.
If you don’t know how Google works, here are some links to stories you can read on last night’s awesomeness:
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There was a lot of commentary – rightly so – last night on the FOX sports broadcast about the behaviour of some fans at the Rogers Centre – the ones throwing beer bottles and the like from the upper deck toward the field, which of course never came close to the field but rained down on the folks in the 100 level.
So, people who throw stuff from the stands should be arrested and prosecuted. Period.
Second, the umpires actually got the call right but most baseball fans had no clue what the rule actually is in the first place when a catcher throwing a ball back to a pitcher actually manages to hit the batter. (I think there should be an automatic fine for laziness in such a case, but I may be alone on that point.)
And third, I wanted to say the bottle-tossing morons don’t really reflect what Toronto sports fans are like.
Someone posted a video last night of people celebrating at Yonge Dundas Square, which in case you are not from Toronto is sort of like our very modest version of Times Square. If you suspend reality, squint really hard, and maybe have a couple drinks first. And then, only kinda-sorta.
At that particular intersection there is an odd sequence of walk-don’t walk lights for pedestrians, including one that allows people to walk right across diagonally for a period of time. And last night, while that signal was active, the intersection of Yonge and Dundas filled up with people cheering, waving flags, honking horns, etc.
And as soon as the light changed, everyone left the intersection politely, so the cars could pass. Philadelphia’s fans boo Santa Claus and make fun of jets making safe landings. But in Toronto, that, people, is actually what sports fans are really like.
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There were only five of us at training this morning. It was another of those mornings where I laid in bed, warm and sleepy, and thinking hmmm. Maybe I should just stay here. It was six degrees outside. It was dark. I’m almost certain there were monsters in the closet waiting to attack me. I was really reaching for a reason not to move.
But I moved.
Like always I’m glad I went. We didn’t spin (Thursday is often a spin day, though not necessarily a spin day) but we did interesting things with kettlebells (we did it poorly too, but we tried) and we did burpees and pushups and squats and push presses other stuff that made me sweat and grunt. And then we did them again. And again. And again.
I never once have left the gym at the end of a workout wishing I stayed in bed. Today was no exception. And I’m writing this at lunch with an awesome salad – lettuce, sesame seeds, cucumbers, shredded carrots, something I’m not sure of and a little chicken with some balsamic vinegar.
I’m trying to eat more plants, you know.