So, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series Friday night. The win was the capstone to one of the most improbable championships in baseball history. The Cardinals were 10.5 games out of the wild card race on August 24. The Atlanta Braves’ implosion, which permitted the Cardinals to catch them on the last day of the regular season, was part of a pair of collapses that included, if possible, an even more historic, as in the most historic ever, collapse by the Red Sox, who held a 9.5 game lead in the American League wild card race, as of September 1. The Red Sox bumbled through September until they were also overtaken by the Tampa Bay Rays on the final day of the season.
In the consensus estimation of anyone who knows anything about the game of baseball, these two impossible tragedies culminated, on the final night of the season, in the greatest day in regular season baseball history, with the fate of four teams decided in the tumult of three of the most unlikely games to ever be played, much less on the same day and much less with so much hanging in the balance.
So the Cardinals emerged from this malay and went on to also improbably win the World Series. Along the way, they participated, with the Texas Rangers, in what many of those same people identified above, believe to be either the first or second best World Series game ever played. So, in the span of a couple of months, the St. Louis Cardinals became associated with the sure fire greatest day in regular season baseball history and, at worst, the second best day in World Series history. Oh, and they also actually won the World Series, a real accomplishment, not just one of these history-of-the-universe superlatives sports nuts like to throw around.
What do they have to show for it? Television ratings that can barely compete with the worst performing NFL regular season games. It’s stunning. Now this has a great deal to do with our gross obsession with football and the relative supply and demand of the two sports. But, it’s not any novel observation that baseball is suffering a tedious demise.
Baseball is my sport. Caps. Cards. Cleats. My whole life, even through college. (Humble brag. Wait, that was just a brag brag.) I wear batting gloves to shovel snow. I sleep in sliding pants with an integrated cup for pajamas. That’s not true. The cup isn’t integrated. I use rosin instead of confectionary sugar on my waffles. I pine tar my work stapler.
I don’t want it to change. It’s the only sport that can even remotely claim to maintain some statistical continuity and connection over a longitudinal history of thousands and thousands of players, generation after generation. To shorten seasons or lose teams or manipulate play is unsettling.
But, baseball seems primed to go the way of other once wildly popular, but now marginalized sports, like boxing and horse racing. There are too many games, the games are too slow, and nobody cool plays it. Baseball will be gutted and reborn eventually. Taken to its economically essential extreme. Sure, there is enough nostalgia to keep her afloat for a while. And, there are places in the world, like Latin America and the Far East, where it remains king. But, my son’s son’s generation will hardly have any time for it. It will become a piece of sentiment.
Baseball was once America’s pastime. But, she may simply be past her time.
So, I thought it was appropriate to do a tribute to a throwback sport over a throwback beat. Good Times. My childhood hero, Dale Murphy (I was born 10 years before the invention of color):
Performed by ipoet. Music produced by djclutch from his Beat Tape ’11, which drops tomorrow!
Today’s song blog here:(Not) Good Times