October 10, 2001
Why I Love the National League
Just got done watching the first game of the National League Division Series between the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. And saw a great example of why -- even though my home team plays in it -- the American League isn't real baseball.
The D-Backs are the home team, so they're batting in the bottom of the inning. It's the eigth, and the Diamondbacks are up 1-0. Therefore, the Cardinals have the three outs they get in the top of the ninth to tie the game. And the heart of their order -- their three best hitters -- are going to come to bat next inning.
There are two men on with two out, and the eigth batter in the lineup is at the plate. They intentionally walk him to bring up the number-nine hitter -- the pitcher, Curt Schilling. Schilling's been pitching a shutout for eight innings, and has only given up three hits so far. Dilemma: Do you pinch-hit for the pitcher to drive in a couple insurance runs, taking him out of the game; or do you leave him in to pitch the ninth and get the (hopefully) victory?
The Diamnodbacks manager went with Schilling, who bounced a one-hopper to second for an easy force-out at first; no more runs scored. Then the Cards came up in the ninth to face Schilling, who was nearing the 100-pitch mark.
Schilling struck out the first guy with a 97-mph fastball. Then he got the second guy to pop up to the catcher. The third guy grounded out. A 1-2-3 inning, and the D-Backs win the game. Schilling gets a three-hit shutout in one of the most dominating pitching performances I've seen this year.
And if you don't see why this is important (in the sense of a baseball game, anyway) just admit you'll never be a baseball fan.