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:: Friday, September 22, 2006 ::

:: The Impossible has Happened ::
"I don't believe what I just saw." - Jack Buck

With apologies to my non-baseball fan readers, this post is just for me. It's a way for me to jot down my thoughts and emotions from one of the greatest games in Dodger history. If you watch SportsCenter, you've probably seen highlights of my Dodgers coming back from being down 9-5 by hitting four home runs in a row to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Back to back to back to back.

I wish I had been there. Hell, I wish I could have just seen it live.

Because I didn't know the outcome until after one that evening.

"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened." - Vin Scully

I got home late that night and I had just turned on SportsCenter. It broke to a late live update after the game had just ended. The anchor started off saying the Dodgers were down in the 9th inning 9-6, which caused me to utter a few profanities.

This game against the San Diego Padres had playoff implications. They were 1 1/2 games back entering this four-game series. We took the first one behind another Greg Maddux masterpiece, only to lose the next two and relinquishing the division lead.

And we were about to lose another to drop further back. I turned away from the TV and went back to checking that day's scores (yes, I check scores on my laptop while I have SportsCenter on. Shut up).

"I really love baseball. The guys and the game, and I love the challenge of describing things."

Then the anchor says Jeff Kent homers to center. Cool. Whatever. Of course he would. He has a mustache, after all. I shrug it off.

Immediately following is homer to right by J.D. Drew. J.D. Drew? That stiff? Hmm. I turn back to the TV.

Call to the bullpen, and Trevor Hoffman, the Hall of Fame closer who's currently one save behind Lee Smith on the all-time saves list, is called to finish it. On his very first pitch rookie catcher Russell Martin sends the ball into the left-field bleachers to bring my Dodgers back to within one.

I'm out of my chair. Holy shit, is this really happening? For the next 60 seconds, the rest of the world will cease to exist.

Because on Hoffman's very next pitch, utility player Marlon Anderson (WHO?) skies one back back back back into the right field pavilion seats.

Tie game. My arms are raised. Four in a row. Are you fucking kidding me?!?!?! From THIS team? In THAT ballpark? I'm ecstatic, but I'm trying to minimize the noise since The Girlfriend is alseep.

(This is where I remind you that I'm wigging out to a highlight reel.)

This is awesome. What a comeback! But suddenly San Diego scores another run at the top of the 10th and just like that, I'm back on Earth. All that for nothing. Excitement and hope quickly give way to disappointment. But the highlights continue and I'm still on my feet.

"Boy is this a game, huh? And the crowd is loving it. From depression to euphoria and all the stops in between. It's not Monday night here. No way. It is Mardi Gras, it is New Year's Eve."

Kenny Lofton draws a walk. Then Nomar Garciaparra is up to bat. Yeah, that Nomar.

The same Nomar that was once the face of the Red Sox and beloved by the city of Boston.

The same Nomar that was so valued, that management decided the best way to acquire that long-elusive World Series Title was to trade him away.

The same Nomar that lost almost two years of his career thanks to numerous injuries.

The same Nomar who at one point was an elite shortstop, was forced to switch to first base for a team to take a chance on him.

The same Nomar that became known as "Mr. Mia Hamm."

The same Nomar that was grateful just to back in uniform, back in a locker room, back on the field, back in the batter's box, and back to some sense of relevance.

The same Nomar that despite all that, despite having a Comeback Player of the Year-worthy season, despite simply being able to play almost a full season, was still looking for some sort of personal validation.

The same Nomar Garciaparra, fighting a gimpy leg, who grounded out and struck out his previous at-bats - possibly because he's worn out from carrying all the vowels in his last name - connected on a 3-1 pitch that arced majestically over the left-field wall.


YES YES YES YES! The Girlfriend wakes up and looks at me like I've lost my mind. (I'm used that look, actually.) I'm hopping up and down in my apartment. Almost 3,000 miles away from my team. About a game they ended a few minutes before. I couldn't believe what I just saw.

"This is why baseball is such a wonderful game. You just never know what you're going to see."

It took me this long to write about it because it took a couple of days just to sink in. I follow my team pretty closely (don't even try to tell me West Coast sports fans are apathetic and uninformed; I'm certainly not apathetic) so I knew that my Dodgers had the fewest homeruns in the league. Four homeruns in a game would be nice once in a while but... four in a row? In a span of seven pitches?

Even people at work who know I'm from Los Angeles asked me days later if I saw that game. Four days later, I still get excited talking about it. Hell I still get giddy simply thinking about it.

I know the fans in attendance were apoplectic. Dodger Stadium hasn't enjoyed a great moment since the Gibson Homerun in 1998. We went on to win the World Series. The closest we came to that since then was in 2003 when Jose Lima (whose career has been so sporadic that he's most famous for singing the National Anthem once while playing for the Dodgers and having a hot wife with gigantic boobs) pitched a masterful complete-game shutout against the Cardinals, only to lost the next game and get knocked out of the playoffs. Until now. Finally, we saw this game. We tasted a morsel of greatness. And we witnessed history happening right in front of our bloodshot eyes.

September game. First place at stake. A possible momentum shift near the end of a maddeningly streaky season. Back. To back. To back. To back. I with I had been there. But you know what? For those few seconds, in my mind, I was. (And I wasn't on drugs or anything.) Back there in the Right Field Pavilion. Back when I was still young and being a Dodger fan was new and exciting. I was there and it was glorious.

"...that's what it means to love baseball. Having an unwavering faith and an undying loyalty, not just in your team, but in looking forward to and hoping for those brief, historic moments of greatness that stick with you forever." - some guy named Dan-E (WHO?), July 2004

- Photos courtesy Francis Specker and Jeff Lewis of AP photo; Gina Ferazzi LAT.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 1:54 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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