With apologies in advance to all the sports not named baseball, there is nothing like the Fall Classic. Really, there’s nothing like October baseball. I should say, there’s nothing in sports like October baseball.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love game seven of an NHL playoff series, or any of the NFL playoff weekends, those are fun too. I watch the World Cup, Olympics, heck, even the NBA during the playoffs. No matter how great an individual or team achievement is in those sports, they still don’t measure up to baseball in October.
Baseball is a six-month grind with amazing moments. Perfect games, no-hitters, walk-off wins, there are games and moments that are every bit as exciting as a long run in a football game. But baseball really is a grind. The people that play, coach, manage, work in the game actually use that term, grind, when talking about their season. In the big leagues, they play 162 games in roughly 180 days.
Rarely during the season does a team feel a true sense of urgency and if they do, it’s typically towards the end of the season. Occasionally during the season there are games that the media and/or fans will label as “must wins” but generally teams don’t put pressure on themselves in June to win a particular game.
But in October everything changes, except nothing changes. In the NBA, they claim defense prevails more in the playoffs. Same thing in the NFL, except there have been plenty of high-scoring playoff games over the years. How many penalties are in a Super Bowl or AFC/NFC Championship game? Not nearly as many as called during the regular season. It’s almost as if suddenly the players don’t block in the back or hold.
Unlike in the Super Bowl, tonight 43,000 + San Francisco Giants fans will be cheering wildly for their team against the Detroit Tigers. Come this weekend, 40,000+ Tigers fans will be going nuts for their team. Regular, run of the mill, dyed in the wool, fans of both teams will have the opportunity to see their team play in the World Series. How many dyed in the wool fans of the NY Giants or New England Patriots saw the Super Bowl in person last year? How many dyed in the wool fans of the Miami Heat saw their team win the NBA Championship in person last year?
That’s the beauty of baseball. No matter how many ills the game has, the games still involve baseball fans. The teams that win stay on the field to celebrate with their fans, and over the last few years, take laps around the park and exchange handshakes and high fives with their fans.
I love the 49ers and they have several wins in their history that are included in the games greatest games. But none of them define a generation. In 2010 when the Giants won the World Series, that defined generations of fans. People talked about going to games, like myself, with their fathers or grandfathers and watching the Giants always come up short.
There is an ebb and flow to a baseball season. Maybe because it’s the summer and it’s how so many of us measured our summers as a youth, checking box scores, looking at the probable pitchers for the game today, etc. Football is an event. Baseball is a game.
So for the next five to nine days, fans in Detroit and San Francisco, and baseball fans throughout the country will enjoy the Fall Classic. Regardless of who your favorite team is, or whether they are even in the Series, there is nothing like watching the series and having it lead up to a last out strikeout or a Mazeroski or Carter ending. For me, I’ll be watching and hoping and praying the Giants make it two out of the past three years, making up for my first 47 years with none.