Loving the Baseball Playoffs

“It’s a generational thing.”

It was my pal Bob weighing in. He was talking about baseball. Not just his lack of interest in the playoffs which started over the weekend. But about the game itself.

Bob’s a fortysomething. He’s not into the National Pastime. He grew up playing soccer.

Arsenal is his team. He knows that in the English Premier League the standings aren’t called standings at all. The list of team records is called the Table. It’s early in the season across the pond. His team sits in 7th place. That’s a couple of spots behind my EPL team of choice, Tottenham Hotspur.

I like them because of the way cool name.

But, if they lose, I still sleep well.

But when it comes to the Detroit Tigers, I’m all in. (Okay, there are limits to my fandom. At St. James the other day, there was a marvelously artful giclee of a photo taken of fans lingering outside Briggs Stadium on Opening Day. Michigan and Trumbull is about as reverential as corners come in Motor City. I kept the several hundred bucks in my pocket.)

I don’t track batting averages like I did in my adolescence. I don’t subscribe to a site that would allow me to watch all the regular season games on my computer. I guess I’m fair weather. The Tigers have been relevant the last few seasons. I pay attention as summer turns to autumn.

Memories run deep. I fondly recall the day my Aunt Martha took cousin Eddy and me to watch the Tigers play the Indians on Opening Day at Briggs Stadium later Tigers Stadium now RIP. It was the year after Al Kaline became the youngest player to win the batting crown. He got a couple of hits off Mike Garcia.

So after the Tigers surge finally subdued the wannabe White Sox for the AL Central crown, I cleared my schedule to catch their post season games.

Bob’s right. It is a generational thing.

Bob played soccer.

I played Little League. That’s the way the God we prayed to in the 50s meant for it to be. I was a catcher. I still savor that glorious scent coming from the league’s storage shed when opened so we could get equipment before games, a mixture of sweat and Rawlings and dirt encrusted after swirling from a play at the plate.

* * * * *

It’s been an intriguing post season so far.

Justin Verlander took care of business in the opener against Oakland. Detroit came back thrice for the W in Game 2, which featured a key run for each nine scored on a wild pitch.

The Tigers head to the Bay, needing only to hit .333 to advance to the ALCS.

The amazing Orioles and the ever present Yankees are knotted at a game apiece, heading to the Bronx. Game 1 was classic Yankees. Knotted going into the 9th, they scored at will to seal the deal. Game 2 was classic Orioles circa 2012. A one-run W.

The Reds are strong. They won two on the road.

Ubiquitous St. Louis knotted their series with upstart Washington, plating a dozen in Game 2. The Nats are hanging in there, thought don’t be looking for their ace Stephen Strasburg. He’s been benched for the remainder of the season. Which move in the name of future success by management is going to look like either the biggest blunder since the BoSox traded The Babe to the Bronx, or brilliant if the post season rookies happen to pull off the championship.

* * * * *

One thing I love about the divisional series round of the playoffs is the TV coverage. The color guys explain the game, provide nuance and insight. No histrionics. Just strategy, expressed in a straight forward manner.

During the Series, we’ll have to endure wordy Tim McCarver, who is waaaaaaaaay past his prime.

So, some of you sports fans are tuned in. Others are watching Fox Soccer. Or football reruns. Or camped out in Lexington for Midnight Madness.

I’m counting down to tonight’s first pitch in Oakland at 9:07. But I’m sure I’ll catch an inning or two of that prelim they’re playing up the river at Great America. And reminiscing about the one game way back when I got to take the mound.

– Seedy K



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