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All's well that ends well into the night

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Well, that was close.

We were treated to something special in New York as the venerable old cathedral that is Yankee Stadium refused to go quietly into the night. A game that used to be a harmless exhibition -- save for when an over-caffeinated Pete Rose ruined the career of one Ray Fosse-- took on a tenor of great importance as the night faded into early morning and the teams played a game of who wants it less. 

Bereft of any pitching in reserves, managers Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle found themselves in positions as uncomfortable as anyone probably feels around Dan Uggla right now. We teetered on the blink of a cataclysmic no-decision, a tie that would have sullied baseball's reputation so much more than the 2002 snafu. And then, graciously, Michael Young's sacrifice fly to right field scored a sliding and unabashedly Canadian Justin Morneau from third base to give the American League a 4-3 victory in 15 innings. Baseball, it seems, found a way to preserve itself yet again. 

Tonight was just another reminder that this game -- one that is truly American in orgin and resilient in nature -- will not allow itself to die. The Black Sox scandal of 1919. Rosters depleted by war during the 1940s. Institutionalized racism that robbed ballplayers the chance to play on the game's biggest stage. The strikes of 1981 and 1994. The All-Star game that didn't have a winner in Milwaukee. Sterioids. Nothing it seems can keep our American pastime from adapting in new environments and thriving in the face of adversity. 

The most important thing about tonight's close call with mayhem is that it didn't happen. We'll always remember how close it came to uncharted waters when a decision would have had to been made that would have been analyzed for decades. Seriously, what do you do when there's no one left to pitch in a game that now counts for so much? You call upon those all-knowing baseball gods to provide an answer.

"We were told the game would find a way to finish itself," National League manager Clint Hurdle said after the game, sounding very much like Dr. Ian Malcolm in 'Jurassic Park.' This type of whimsical fantasy could easily be dismissed out of hand by cynics, but after seeing the game of baseball overcome obstacle after obstacle in a dynamic world I'm not so sure he isn't on to something there. And nowhere else do the ghosts of baseball past reside so prominently than the House that Ruth built.

Whether you buy this bill of mystical goods or not and whether or not you went to bed before his installment of the mid-summer classic was decided or if you stayed to the end, these 30-some hours in New York have been an unbelievably ride. Josh Hamilton's Home Run Derby coming out party sent chills down my spine as I watched a reformed man stand on baseball's most hallowed ground and shine in a way no one ever has before. And tonight's epic marathon is certainly the most nerve-wracking All-Star game in history, replete with all the nervous energy that came with not knowing if this would be the sport's biggest black eye in years or just another tour de force of drama.

Thankfully, it was just the latter.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle Koster published on July 15, 2008 10:29 PM.

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