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Jacobsen: The Series baffles fans far and wide (Oct. 29)

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, October 29, 2013


There are a lot of pointless endeavors in the world. Trying to gauge South Bend weather, attempting to make sense of Miley Cyrus’s wardrobe choices and searching for cell phone reception on game day – Let’s face it, they’re all lost causes. But there is no exercise quite as useless as predicting the outcome of sporting events.

Remember last week, when the good people of sports media were busy telling baseball fans what they could expect from upcoming World Series games? The most knowledgeable experts touted the strength of the Cardinals pitching staff or Boston’s home field advantage at Fenway Park. They dwelled on the possible impact of St. Louis outfielder Carlos Beltrán and whether or not he would get the best of Sox pitchers Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy, and they discussed the extent to which the American League Red Sox would miss the designated hitter spot during games at Busch Stadium. 

(Side note: The two leagues have been playing by separate designated hitter rules for 40 years now. Can we just agree that it’s silly to have to choose between removing a pitcher who could go another inning and watching him strike out with the bases loaded? The NL should just accept the DH and put an end to this madness.)

But as the Red Sox lead the series, 3-2, it’s clear the talking heads couldn’t fathom how truly unusual these games would prove to be. Forget about pitching matchups; an obstruction call and a pickoff ended Saturday and Sunday’s games, respectively. (I would like to point out that I actually have seen an extra-innings game that ended with a walk-off wild pitch, so don’t think the possible wacky game conclusions have been exhausted just yet.) The little leaguers in Williamsport would blush at the number of errors that have been committed so far. 

Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes, who took part in the “Stand Up to Cancer” display after the fifth inning of Game Four, said he felt angels watching over him when he hit a three-run homer in the next inning. Call them celestial intangibles. The cynics of the world might have a hard time believing that story, but it’s positively reasonable compared to David Ortiz’s description of where he gets his oratorical inspiration. After the game, Big Papi said his stirring, profanity-filled pump-up speech on the dugout steps between the fifth and sixth innings of the same game was informed by Bill Clinton’s speeches. Really.

“He changes a lot of lives with his speeches,” Ortiz said. “I watch him. I learn. If you can get people to listen, they will react.”

It’s safe to say no one saw any of this coming – from the Cardinals’ obstruction-aided win to the revelation that Big Papi spends his free time watching Clinton speeches. But if there’s one redeeming thing about sports predictions, it’s that they are almost more fun when they are smashed to pieces. After all, isn’t the uncertainty the most compelling reason to watch a game in the first place? In any other form of entertainment, the author or the director or the singer knows how everything is supposed to conclude. Only in sports are the participants as unsure of the outcome as the audience. That’s one way to ratchet up the tension. 

So, how’s this series going to end? I have no idea. Maybe there’s a 17-inning game waiting for us, or maybe there’s an inside-the-park home run in the Cards. Personally, I’m rooting for Boston to clinch its third championship in 10 years with a steal of home. But as for what’s actually going to happen, no one can honestly say that they have any idea. And thank goodness for that.

Contact Vicky Jacobesen at [email protected]
The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.