You watch enough baseball and you get a strong feeling regarding what is going to happen next. You're almost smug about it. You're a longtime fan. You can see it coming.
Not Game Three of the 2005 World Series which went fourteen innings, nearly a quarter of a day and put the Chicago White Sox within one win of their first championship since just before the Soviet Union formed. I watched it all (save for nodding off somewhere between the fourth and the fifth, meaning I missed the blown-call home run by Jason Lane and the leadoff blast by Joe Crede, but the nap turned out to be fortuitous in the loooong run) and I didn't see anything coming.
I didn't see Roy Oswalt falling apart.
I didn't see the White Sox leaving the bases loaded when they got to Oswalt.
I didn't see the Sox not paying for leaving the bases loaded.
I didn't see the Astros getting only one hit over the final ten innings and that hit being the one that tied the game in the eighth.
I didn't see Orlando Hernandez (whom I couldn't root for because of his past associations) wriggling out of trouble.
I didn't see Fox not showing a clip of Timo running himself into an out in 2000 when he came up but maybe nobody besides us cares that much about it.
I didn't see Orlando Palmiero, a pest of the first order, not doing something.
I didn't see Jose Vizcaino, his credentials well understood in these parts, not doing something.
I didn't see Craig Biggio not writing a fitting ending. I've never much cared for him but I find myself appreciating his eighteen years of hustle and his moment in the spotlight.
I didn't see Bobby Jenks escaping unscathed. I was sure he was Looperized.
I didn't see Barbara Bush get up to leave but she lasted until at least 12:30 local time. I think one of her non-politician sons accompanied her but for a second I thought the guy sitting with her was Brownie of “heckuva job” fame.
I didn't see Brad Ausmus starting a very heads-up 2-6-3 double play on Scott Podsednik in the thirteenth.
I didn't see Piazza stroking a two-out, season-saving, three-run job in the ninth off Wagner only to have Ausmus tie it off Cook in the bottom of the inning all before Hundley drove one over the Astrodome wall versus Bergman and an overworked Wendell hung on for dear life to win it in eleven. (Whoops…right city, wrong insane classic.)
I didn't see the White Sox pitchers walking every other batter and not giving up a run.
I didn't see the Astros popping up in every other at-bat.
I didn't see Morgan Ensberg turning a sensational fourteenth-inning double play on Paul Konerko's hot grounder after Jermaine Dye led off with a hard single.
I didn't see October 25, 2005 turning into October 26, 2005 turning into October 25, 1986 turning into October 26, 1986.
I didn't see Ezequiel Astacio giving up a two-out home run to Geoff Blum.
I didn't see Astros radio announcer Milo Hamilton calling that home run, as damaging as it was to his team, with all the passion usually reserved for remembering that the dry cleaning is ready; what a homer — and I'm not talking about Blum's line drive.
I didn't see hair like Blum's when he took his helmet off in the White Sox dugout. I hadn't seen anything like it since Williams, the kid with too many impure thoughts, in 1985's Heaven Help Us.
I didn't see Geoff Blum, who I vaguely assumed was still on the Expos, becoming the second man to hit a home run in his first World Series plate appearance in extra innings. The only other man to accomplish that mouthful was Dusty Rhodes of my beloved 1954 Giants.
I didn't see Morgan Ensberg not fielding a squib and then allowing a bunt to go fair setting up an insurance run.
I didn't see the Astros getting the winning run to bat.
I didn't see Mark Buehrle, a starter who hadn't pitched relief in five years and just threw seven innings on Sunday, coming out of the pen and getting Adam Everett for the final out with no sweat.
I didn't see Brandon Backe, the Game Four starter, going to the 'Stros bullpen in the fourteenth before that final out in one of those just-in-case maneuvers that would've sent this game through the roof if it had come to that whether the roof was open or not.
I didn't see the roof making a difference one way or another when all was said and done.
I didn't see the Astros fans hanging around as long as they did; mea culpa for questioning their credentials.
I didn't see that they're going to have rechristen that place as Five Hour Forty One Minute Maid Park.
I didn't see that I'd feel really badly for Phil Garner when he threw his stool after Astacio threw his gopher. I wasn't rooting for his team but I felt bad for him. It reminded me of my father's reaction to a shot of Michael Dukakis late in the 1988 campaign when in an effort to come across as a regular guy, his staff convinced him bowl a couple of frames for the cameras. “I'm not voting for him,” Dad said, “but he shouldn't have to do that.”
I didn't see the game lasting until 2:20 AM here, meaning it was ending close to the time George McGovern's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention started in 1972. Ever since then, the political parties have taken great care to do what the NFL does with the Super Bowl: make sure their big moments take place in prime time or as close to it as possible. This baseball game, which will go a long way toward determining the champion of the world, ended in prime time if you live in the Aleutians or points west. I'd like to think that as what was occurring was occurring that every sleepy-eyed baseball fan/bathroom-goer who gave up around 11:30 turned on the TV around 1:30 to get the final score and found out it was still going on and stayed up 'til the end in order to enjoy a little of the historic climax. I hope the game's ratings trajectory followed the 18-inning NLDS affair played in the very same House of Whew!s when the longer the game got, the more the audience increased. But that was a weekend day game. This game started at 8:39 PM in the east. I don't know how you fix that short of blowing off prime time which baseball would never do willingly but managed to do accidentally. And I'm not sure whether this was one of the greatest games ever played or just one of the longest, but I do know every bit of it was worth watching.
I didn't see it coming, but boy am I glad I saw it.