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Green: Baseball’s final day captivates (Sept. 30)

Mary Green | Monday, September 30, 2013

I was originally going to write about Bud Selig and his retirement announcement here.

I had it all planned out: I would talk about how there was obviously a lot of oversight in his career, but how in the end, he made baseball a polarizing topic and enlarged its fan base since the beginning of his tenure. It may not have come about in the right fashion, but Bud got the job done.

But then something happened. I got wrapped up in Bud’s sport.

That’s right, on a Sunday, an NFL Sunday, I couldn’t stop checking baseball scores.

Don’t get me wrong, yesterday’s football was certainly worth watching. The Bucs squandered a 10-point lead to fall to the Cardinals, almost making Greg Schiano look like a genius for benching Josh Freeman. Joe Flacco threw five picks against the Bills, but the Ravens still kept the game close. And the Seahawks captured an overtime win over the Texans to push their record to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, though something about Russell Wilson tells me that it won’t be the last.

And yet amidst all this football madness, I couldn’t help but keep updated on baseball.

Perhaps it was Henderson Alvarez’s no-hitter against the Tigers. Can you imagine that? A no-hitter in game 162! And to top it off, the Marlins took the 1-0 walkoff on a wild pitch – what a way to close out the season for the Fish.

But that wasn’t what kept me glued to the scoreboard.

Maybe it was the Yankees’ 14-inning win over the Astros. Though both teams were well out of the postseason picture by the time first pitch rolled around, giving this game next to no significance in the standings, extra innings are always fun.

But more importantly, I wanted to see Mo close it out one last time. He didn’t get in the game, so the Yanks must have let him start his retirement a few days early. Besides, it would have been hard to top his final, emotional exit from Yankee Stadium, flanked by Derek Jeter and Andy Pettite. If anyone deserves an exit like that, surrounded by the teammates and friends who entered the majors with him, it would have to be the last-ever No. 42.

And that’s before we even got to the matchups that mattered: those that determined playoff spots.

Sure, no-hitters are a pretty big feat, and it’s nice to celebrate the career of the greatest closer ever, but in the end, championships are all that matter.

Of course, I did have a little bit of a bias towards which team would continue its hunt for October, so I may have been so enthralled for that reason.

But this year’s playoff race was compelling for anyone who likes baseball. The Rays, Indians and Rangers jockeyed for the two American League Wild Card spots, with there being eight possible outcomes for the situation.

However, it might have ended with the most complex of those eight as all three won, and the Rays and Rangers will face off in a one-game playoff to determine which team will play the Indians in the one-game Wild Card playoff. Funny how the finale of a 162-game season always seems to carry such importance year after year.

The build-up to Sunday’s matchups could not have been better, with the Indians on a 10-game win streak and the Rays and Rangers taking eight of their last 10. None of them let up in the homestretch, and I don’t think the Rays or Rangers will until the final out tonight.

So that’s why baseball occupied most of my thoughts yesterday. The no-hitter and the extra innings and the race for the postseason all showed how these players and teams don’t give up until it’s all over. They compete to win, no matter what may happen tomorrow. They play for today, for the here and now.

And maybe that’s why Bud Selig’s tenure was filled with so much cheating and scandal. Bud didn’t play for the present. He played for the future, looking towards baseball’s growth and turning a blind eye to everything going on around him at the time as a result.

But perhaps he’s learned his lesson. Hopefully he will enjoy the next year and a half, not looking forward to retirement so much that he forgets what a sweet job he has as commish.

Because as the Rays, Rangers, Indians, Henderson Alvarez and – for one last time – Mariano Rivera could tell him, there’s nothing like living in the present.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.