Pundits get a kick out of kicking sand in the face of the National Pastime, saying baseball by its nature lacks the violence and brutality of football and the elegance of basketball.
But what baseball may lack in certain areas, it more than makes up for in its sheer sense of drama. Take the ongoing New York Yankees-Baltimore Orioles playoff series, for instance.
What a spectacle!
What a match-up, with both of the first two games in Baltimore going down to the wire. On Wednesday night, the Yankees erased a 2-1 deficit in the most stunning fashion imaginable. Yankee manager Joe Girardi showed guts by pinch-hitting Raul Ibanez for his slumping slugger, Alex Rodriguez, in the ninth inning.
Ibanez dramatically hit a home run to tie the game — and then smacked another homer to win the game in the 12th inning. Wow!
No player had EVER hit two home runs in one game from the ninth inning on.
The Yankees can wrap up the series by defeating Baltimore again in game 4 on Thursday night.
The series between the up-and-coming O's against the grizzled, high-priced, big-city Yankees is a class collision of two cultures. I wouldn't be surprised if the winner of this series goes on to represent the American League in the World Series.
What makes baseball so riveting is the promise of drama at any moment. A player could hit a tape-measure home run — or get plunked by an angry pitcher. The suspense from the first three Yanks-O's games was tremendous. During game 2, I found myself having to flick on the broadcast of the New York Jets-Houston Texans football game, just to relax a bit.
Call me impartial — me? A native New Yorker, who has rooted for the Yankees since the bad, bad, Horace Clarke years of the mid-60s. But I think the Yankees are going to win the series, probably in five games.
Baltimore won't go quietly. The team has true grit and an excellent manager in Buck Showalter. He keeps his young team focused and excited.
But the Yankees have a mystique for a reason. I love their chances.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which is now available. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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