There’s No Crying in Baseball

I’m really glad the World Series ended the way it did. Now we hopefully won’t have to hear anymore nonsense about what a horrible series it was because (a) the best teams weren’t in it, (b) the games were sloppy, and/or (c) the pitchers couldn’t throw strikes.

On the first point, if the “best” teams weren’t in the World Series, well where exactly were they and why were they there instead of playing basesball? Maybe it’s because they didn’t beat the teams they needed to beat to earn the right tocompete for the Championship. Yes, I think that possibly could have something to do with it. Whine all you want about best records and wildcards and tradition, the bottom line is the Indians and Marlins got it done where others couldn’t. And for that they should be applauded, not made to apologize.

As for the games being sloppy, let’s remember the conditions under which the middle three games were played. Have you ever tried playing baseball in the snow? Neither have I, but I’ll bet that, unlike football, where everyone is running around all the time, it gets mighty tough standing around second base waiting for something to happen, wishing you could feel your fingers. Then, when a ball does come your way, you must ignore the 21 degree wind chill factor and execute flawlessly. Under those conditions, there are no routine plays.

And how about everyone’s favorite complaint: The pitchers couldn’t throw strikes. What if we look at this in a different light: The hitters didn’t swing at bad pitches. What if we acknowledge the art of hitting, of working the count,of making the pitcher make a mistake? Sure the pitchers were wild at times, but what pitchers aren’t? A good batting eye is one of the most important components of good hitting. Ask Wade Boggs. Ask Frank Thomas. Ask Ted Williams. If the Cubs had somehow made it to the World Series, we wouldn’t be hearing about pitchers’ control problems, because guys like Sammy Sosa would be busy swinging at all those sliders low and away.

Aside from the complaints about the games themselves, the most inane comments made during the World Series concerned the possible “tainting” of the Marlins’ victory because of all the money they spent. The Expos and this year’s Pirates notwithstanding, it is an economic reality of baseball in the 1990s that teams need to spend money in order to win. And despite the high-profile signings of Moises Alou, Bobby Bonilla, and Alex Fernandez and the huge contract extension for Gary Sheffield, this is a young Marlin team built around guys like Charles Johnson, Edgar Renteria, and Livan Hernandez. And thanks to GM Dave Dombrowski and farm director John Boles, there is more talent on the way in John Roskos, Luis Castillo, Alex Gonzalez, Todd Dunwoody, and Mark Kotsay.

So let’s all quit whining about what a horrible World Series this was and move on. The best team by definition did win the Championship. Congratulations to the Indians and the Marlins, two teams that ignored the critics, beat allegedly superior teams, and never quit until Renteria’s single up the middle ended one of the most exciting game sevens in recent memory. True, this World Series didn’t always provide us with flawless baseball, but when has anyone ever played flawless baseball? Where humans are involved, there are bound to be flaws, and that’s what makes baseball, indeed humanity, so fascinating. So get over it and appreciate the game. And remember, there’s no crying in baseball.

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