One more magnificent day of baseball | Bleader

One more magnificent day of baseball

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  • Ian Ransley
For die-hard baseball fans, life has but two seasons. There's the one that starts with pitchers and catchers reporting in February for merry prenatal spring training, culminating in the glorious birth of opening day, followed by the bright, hopeful childhood of April, the adolescent turmoils of May, the young adulthood of June, the labored middle years of July and August, the infirmities of September, and ending, inevitably, with the final World Series out in October. The other season is the cold, gray, dreary, miserable off-season, which, not to belabor the point, is dreary and miserable.

It was the great baseball psychiatrist Elmer Kubek-Rose who traced the stages of a baseball fan's grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Most die-hard baseball fans can navigate the first four stages without incident. But the final October out is always a fastball to the face. We know it will come. But why not put off the inevitable?

Excepting the rare, rare occasions when my team is among the final two, I cheer not for one World Series team or the other but for a seventh game. There will be one this year, for the first time since 2002, thanks to last night's electrifying contest.

The most terrifying moment for die-hards is the two-outs, two-strikes, last-inning, last-batter, possibly last-game moment. It happened twice in yesterday's Cardinals-Rangers game. Bottom of the ninth: Cardinals, down three games to two and 7-5. Two on, but two outs, two strikes on David Freese. Death is pounding at the door. Freese drives the ball to the warning track in right. Nelson Cruz might catch it—but he doesn't; tie game. Bottom of the tenth: Cards down 9-8. Two on, but two outs, two strikes on Lance Berkman. He muscles a single to center; 9-9. When Freese homered to win it in the 11th, I waited for the credits to roll, with the "Based on a true story" hedge.

I know, I know—the season will end tonight anyway. It has to sooner or later. Death will not be denied. I almost accept it. But better on October 28 than on October 27. It's one less off-season day, one day closer to pitchers and catchers reporting.

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