Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The last four days have bore witness to the meaning that can be contained within nine innings and change of baseball.

On Friday night, while I watched my Blue Jays play out the string against the still-more-moribund Tampa Bay Devil Rays, fully half of the National League remained in contention for the playoffs. More amazing than this was that on the third-last day of the season, not a single team was guaranteed one of the four spots. The Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres were all in the mix at the start of play Friday.

On Saturday night, with his Mets facing elimination, John Maine pitched 7.2 near-perfect innings. Maine took a no-hitter into the 8th inning, struck out 14 batters and led the Mets to a seemingly cathartic 13-0 win over the Marlins.

On Sunday, the Mets wasted no time the next day in securing their stunning collapse. Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine allowed 5 runs to score while earning one out. The Marlins had a 7-0 lead before a single Met came to the plate, and the collapse was complete. An airtight 7-game lead had disintegrated in 18 days. The Phillies, somehow, had become division champions. The season still wasn't over, however.

On Monday, the Rockies and Padres are playing to settle an improbable tie after 162 games and a further nine innings of single-game playoff. A bizarre 13-1 finish, including an 11-game winning streak, have vaulted the Rockies to the precipice of the playoffs.

As Greg Cote of the Miami Herald wrote yesterday, "somebody like me whose hobby is making fun of how boring baseball is should never have to work this hard!" This is baseball at its very best. Enjoy.

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