It must be October!
By: Austin Alexander-October 5, 2006
As the Fall Classic of our national pastime peaks around the corner, even the most casual baseball fan knows that the calendar has flipped to a new month, the best month, the month everybody in the game works toward…October baseball.
In professional baseball, playing in October is the pinnacle of your profession. As a fan, having your team play a 163rd game can erase the memory of many past failures in the regular season.
The post-season is what every Major League organization attending spring training sets out to achieve. Millions upon millions of dollars are shuffled between fans, vendors, television, ownership and players striving to play in the tenth month of our year. Family sacrifices are made by scouts, coaches and management. Players deal with injuries, boos and slumps.
All of this is done in hopes of playing the game they love in the isolation of the playoffs.
The scope is larger, every move is scrutinized and each mistake is magnified in October. Second-guessing, hind-sight vision and analysis galore are traits of baseball’s final month.
October is what creates memories and heroes…or reduces grown men to goats.
For every Donnie Moore, Mickey Owen, Fred Snodgrass, Bill Buckner and Ralph Branca there is a Kirby Puckett, Bob Gibson, Joe Carter, Bill Mazeroski, Aaron Boone or Jack Morris among others.
October can allow the most obscure guy on the bench to become a household name. Remember Mark Lemke, Dusty Rhodes, Francisco Cabrera, Craig Counsell and Gene Tennace, to name a few?
We’ve all seen Willie Mays’ catch off the bat of Vic Wertz, the Giants “Win the Pennnant,” Yogi Berra leaping into Don Larsen’s arms, the bloody sock and Kirk Gibson pumping his fist. These are images that will remain with us for a lifetime, not because they happened, but because of when they happened.
The final month of the season is when the stars come out. It’s when the media crams Derek Jeter down your throat and Albert Pujols continues hitting big dingers. Old stars like Frank Thomas reclaim their place in history during the same game that two of baseball’s best southpaws square-off. We get our first glance in pressure situations of new names like Wright, Swisher, Reyes, Verlander and some guy named Boof Bonser. If that doesn’t entice you enough, we get three games in one day!
Sure that last one begins after bedtime but consider this, in three weeks we’ll be without baseball for five months, that fact alone can be a source of motivation for you as the eyes get heavy.
If you love baseball, you live for October even though November leaves you with an empty feeling, a huge void that forces us to watch reality shows on the tube because we really don’t know what else to do.
So who will it be this year that makes the diving catch to be replayed for the ages? Who will hit this year’s most important walk-off homer? Who will win the trophy? Who is guy you’ve never heard of today but soon become a baseball immortal?
If history does, in fact, repeat itself, we are assured this next month will be full of big-time performances on a big-time stage. We know that all but 25 players will deal with the agony of defeat. Whether your team is already finished, has their heart broken in a Game 7 or your team takes the prize, one thing is certain…we, the fans, will win as it all unfolds before our eyes.
As the great Tommy LaSorda says in a recent commercial promoting the playoffs, “to the television, we go!”