Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Grand Finale
Today marks the end of Major League Baseball's 2008 regular season. Back in the dark winter months, Becky had the opportunity to purchase discount tickets for the Minnesota Twins' first and last home games of the year. Naturally we jumped at the opportunity but never once thought the last game would actually matter. And matter it did with the Twins having to win to stay alive for the AL Central title.
We set off for the Metrodome, crossing the recently completed I-35-W bridge, on our way into downtown Minneapolis. The environment was fantastic as 42,942 fans packed the Dome, by far the largest crowd I have ever seen a baseball game with. Each two strike count was met with applause, each Twins hit a standing ovation, and any Minnesota runner crossing home plate chaos. It was wonderful.
The Kansas City Royals spent most of this series embarrassing the Twins, taking the first two games, after the home town team swept the hated Chicago White Sox. The sweep catapulted the Twinkies into first place the last week of the season sending the town into a frenzy with constant replaces of Denard Span's huge triple and Carlos Gomez springing up after scoring the series breaking run. But the Royals had been a different story, silencing the city which had seemed so close to greatness. Yet, my beloved and hopeless Cleveland Indians kept the Twins alive by further killing the White Sox spirit, mirroring the Royals' spoiling in taking the first two from the ChiSox. As a transplanted Cleveland fan now pulling for the hometown Twins, I loved having the Indians play such a critical role down the stretch.
And so we climbed the many flights of stairs to our nosebleed seats pulling for the Twins and Indians all the while keeping an eye on the NL Wild Card chase. Text messages between JR Radcliffe at Miller Park and I in the Metrodome added to the wild baseball afternoon. The stage was set and as Gorilla Monsoon so repeatedly said, "You could cut the anticipation with a knife!"
The Twins benefited from the Royals inability to catch and throw the ball around the infield, getting out to a quick 2-0 lead. The White Sox would make short work of the Indians on this day, but hey two out of three on the road ain't bad. The Brewers struggled scoring all the way until the very end. Minnesota eventually pulled ahead on Joe Mauer and Delmon Young clutch hits, and Joe Nathan closed the door to the ovation of an uproarious crowd. Milwaukee ended up clinching the wild card after Ryan Braun saved the day with a 2 out, 2 run home run. CC Sabathia, a much appreciated former Cleveland ace who Milwaukee is desperately trying to kill with repeated 100+ pitch counts on short rest, mowed through the Cubs as Florida was completing a second straight season of New York Mets chokage.
It was a wild Sunday of baseball that put the Brewers in the playoffs for the first time ever (something like that). The Twins finished off the regular season in first place but have to wait for a make-up game between the Tigers and White Sox to see if a one game playoff against the South Siders is necessary. The day will be best remembered in pictures with CC going to the playoffs, a city celebrating, and an overachieving Twins club finishing in first without Torii Hunter or Johan Santana. As for me, I got to support my two favorite baseball clubs in a wonderfully mismatched outfit, and it made for one helluva grand finale for the 2008 regular season.