The Greatest Game Ever Played

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. Three days ago I had zero vested interest in this World Series. Last night I found myself to getting frequent updates at work.

All things considered: late drama, perfect imperfections, a walk-off home run, a slugfest, the world series, etc., this game featured a concoction of rare attributes that made game six the best game ever played in professional baseball history.

No team within 1,000 miles of me was represented – no team I love was represented, no team I hate was represented. I was a TV station’s worst case scenario – the indifferent fan.

But then game six happened. What started as ambiance on my living room TV during a small social setting quickly became the center of attention. What started as “Oh, at least it’s a good game,” became, “No, we’re not leaving until this game is over.”

Two separate times I sat watching the soon-to-be final strike, waiting for Neftali Feliz or Scott Feldman to induce a ground ball or throw strike three, waiting for “…and the Texas Rangers are your World Champions.”

…and then they weren’t.

Lance Berkman’s hit in the tenth pumped adrenaline through me reminiscent of what I felt when Matsui’s single of Pedro knocked in two during 2009’s Game Six, or when A-Rod’s ’09 ALDS shot tied it up in the ninth. I all of a sudden wanted the Cardinals to win.

Many great games follow similar formulas: a great late comeback,  a slugfest, a pitchers duel, but this game had the “it” factor. It wasn’t just one comeback; it wasn’t your mundane slugfest.

Looking at only the game itself, similar games with this “it” factor were the Mets’ victory against the Braves on Independence Day in 1985 when pitcher Rick Camp, lifetime .074 batter, hit his only career home run with two outs in the 18th to send the game further into the night. And that was after the Braves came back with four runs in the 8th, the Mets with one in the ninth, and both teams with two in the 13th.

Games like July 1st, 2004 between the Yankees and Red Sox, where a rematch of the 2003 ALCS pitted rookie Brad Halsey against superstar Pedro Martinez. By the 13th, A-Rod was back at shortstop, the Red Sox were using five infielders, and Gary Sheffield was at third base for the first time in ten years because Derek Jeter’s kamikaze play in the 12th saved the game, yet forced him to leave.

Games with that little extra. They all have something you rarely see. The games where you need everybody.

This game had “it.”

Right off the bat (haha…) both teams scored in the first. Then the rare wheel play in the second forced the only 5-6-4 bunt-groundball-double play I’ve ever seen. Both teams traded errors in the fourth. Texas’ back to back home runs in the seventh broke a 4-4 tie, and later that inning sent out 24-year old starter Derek Holland out for his second inning of relief, and he was already the third starter to pitch for Texas.

Two improbable comebacks in consecutive innings gave me only a taste of what it would’ve been like if I was a Cardinals or Rangers fan. According to, after Ryan Theriot’s strikeout to leadoff the ninth, the Cardinals had a 4% to win the game (8% chance to tie it up). They did. Once Josh Hamilton hit his two-run homer in the tenth, the Cardinals had a 7% chance to win (14% chance to tie it up). They did.

I’m about to crunch some numbers. I apologize in advance.

8% in the ninth, 14% in the tenth, then once the game went into extras, lets assume both teams have a 50% chance to win.

.08 x .14 x .5 = .0056

I’m no baseball statistician, and this number is only a guesstimate, but I calculate the Cardinals had about a .6% chance to win this game after Theriot’s strike out. If the Cardinals and Rangers were to play 1,000 games starting with said strikeout, the Cardinals would win six times. Assuming each team had a 50% chance to win game seven, you saw something that happens three times out of 1,000.

And this was in a World Series.

Everything considered – from the errors, to the starting pitchers in relief, to the slugfest, to the late comebacks, to the World Series implications, you may never see a better baseball game in your lifetime. Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans. I’m incredibly jealous of you.

One word made me lose all respect for Ndomukong Suh

I’ve always been a real big Ndomukong Suh fan. A big guy with the agility of a three guard on a team in the middle of a major turnaround was enough to get me on his side.

But not anymore – and it was all because of one word in a postgame interview this week… “what?”

Last Sunday while playing the Lions, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was injured when teammate Will Svetek accidentally stepped on Ryan’s ankle. Falcons players Todd McClure and Roddy White accused Lions’ star Suh for taunting Ryan while on the ground.

For the purpose of being concise, it was wrong for McClure and White to bring this situation outside the field of play. Grow up. Address him privately next time you see him. But that doesn’t bother me as much as what Suh said in the postgame interview.

After some rhetoric, Suh was asked by a reporter in the clubhouse, “So then what did you say to Ryan…if anything” (or something very similar I forget the exact quote). After about one full second, Suh looked at the reporter and said:

“What?” asking him to repeat the question.

That one word tells a novel. By asking “what?” it tells me Suh wasn’t quick enough to think of a fitting defense to the question. It tells me “If you’re not telling me the truth now, what else are you exaggerating or lying about?” It tells me  a lot about his character, and he has a lot of growing up to do.

Side note – I think trash talking is good for the game. Football is tough. Players consistently say it’s part of the game so if you’re a trash talker, embrace it.

Suh had the Falcon snitches by the groin when they blabbed to the media about the taunting. All Suh had to do was embrace it and respond with, “Yeah…I’m a trash talker. That’s my game.” Reggie Miller made it his legacy. People may not have positively responded at first, but down the road it would’ve shown maturity and strength, rather than taking the low-road and trying to deceive your fans into making them think you’re someone you’re not.

Contrary to what Suh thought, embracing himself as a trash talker makes him more popular, feared, & marketable. It would’ve made players even more scared of him.

Regardless, he’ll still be a very dominant player for a long time, but if other players pick up on this, it will expose a weakness in a superstar.

Peyton Manning’s WAR

“Wins after replacement” is a statistic gaining popularity in the
baseball world. It tries to measure a player’s tangible value to a
team by determining how many wins the individual is responsible for,
if they were substituted for the average player.

Personally, I’m curious to know how accurate that statistic is since
there’s no way to prove it. But if there’s anyone in any sport who
deserves a high WAR, it’s Peyton Manning.

Obviously Peyton is good – we all know it. But is he really
responsible for nearly all of the Colts wins when he’s on the field?
Probably not, but he’s worth more wins than Tom Brady, Derek Jeter,
and Wayne Gretzky, adjusted for inflation. Here’s why.

We all know how good of a quarterback Peyton is. Athletically, he’s
very above average, but mentally, he’s known as one of the smartest
players in the game. He’s consistently known to watch more footage
than your average player, he knows defenses, coverages, and seems to
always be three steps ahead of the opposition. His knowledge makes his
team better, and gives them a leader that maybe four other teams have.

The difference is that the Colts have never been able to play defense.
They can play, but it has been their weak point since the Peyton
Manning era. But when Peyton is on the field consistently keeping the
defense on the sideline, it takes much needed pressure off the
defense. When you score points, you can settle in as a defensive unit
and play more cohesive and ultimately better D.

Without an elite quarterback who brings a rare concoction of
athleticism and brains, the Colts have started the 2011 season 0-7.
Now no one can say whether the Colts would be 5-2 or even 4-3 with
Peyton Manning, but they would not be 0-7. Is Peyton Manning
single-handedly responsible for half of the Colts wins in the last 13

Yeah maybe