Even the weather, a long rain delay, conspired to ensure that events in Baltimore, Maryland and St. Petersburg, Florida would play out in a perfectly simultaneous symmetry; the crushing collapse of the Boston Red Sox and within four minutes, the improbable, insane rally from a 7-run deficit, punctuated by a sudden line-drive homerun in the bottom of the 12th that propelled the Tampa Bay Devil Rays into baseball’s post-season.
Oh, and over in the other league, they played a game in Atlanta that went 13 innings that sealed the same awful fate for the Braves that befell the Red Sox. Twin epic collapses. On September 1st, the Red Sox had a 9-game lead for the final American League playoff spot and the Braves were up in the National League by 8 and half.
In Baltimore, the Red Sox were one strike away from winning their final game of the regular season.
In St. Petersburg, the Rays were looking straight into the abyss and the end of their season, down to their last strike in the bottom of the 9th.
In Atlanta, the Braves had to get through just one more inning.
For fans of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals the game is sublime. Each team goes on to fight another day and both had to depend on the historic failures of others to reach the promised land. For those who give their hearts to the Red Sox and the Braves, it is a cruel and unforgiving sport.
But I will never be convinced baseball is anything less than the perfect game. It creates story lines and heroes and failures and drama that, in real life, surpass anything that can be imagined in fiction.
Let the playoffs begin. Get some rest, God. You must be exhausted from what you arranged to transpire on this memorable September night. I do understand if residents of Boston and Atlanta do not share this sentiment.