I’ve always been a fan of baseball.
As someone who played for 14 seasons starting when I was four, I fondly recall spending endless nights at the local ball diamonds, watching whatever level of baseball was available to me.
I remember cheering endlessly in the mid-80s for the Toronto Blue Jays, a team, which at the time, would tear through the regular season, only to bow out of the post-season far too early.
We all, I’m sure, remember the early 90’s when the Jays finally put it all together, winning back to back World Series’ titles, with names like Devon White, Joe Carter, Pat Hentgen, Duane Ward, Jimmy Key, David Cone, Kelly Gruber, and Roberto Alomar sprinkled throughout the line up.
I can vividly recall Carter’s World Series clinching home run off Philadelphia’s Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams in game six of the 1993 championship series.
And while fans of the Blue Birds haven’t had much to cheer about over the last decade and a half, I still find myself glued to the television once the American and National League Championship Series’ begin, regardless of who is playing.
For some reason, I just can’t stay away from fall baseball.
This post-season has been one of the best in recent memory, with a couple of upsets and a couple of feel good stories.
The Texas Rangers, currently battling it out with the New York Yankees, a team that has a payroll higher than the gross domestic product in most countries, are, to me, the feel good story of 2010.
The Rangers, once owned by former US President George W Bush, had never won a playoff series in their history before this season.
They’ve made it to the dance before, but, like the Blue Jays of the 80’s, didn’t know what to do once they got there.
That all changed this year when the Rangers went out and acquired Cliff Lee.
Lee was lights out for Philadelphia last season, beating the Yankees twice in the final series before the Phillies ultimately lost to the Bronx Bombers.
And the former Cleveland Indian picked up this post season where he left off last season, shutting down opposition batters and putting his team in a position to win every time he takes the mound.
Many were expecting the Tampa Bay Rays to send the AL West champs packing in three, maybe four games, but it was the Rangers who won every game in Florida and took the divisional series in five games.
That gave the Rangers their first ever playoff series win, and I’m not going to lie, I really do hope they can knock off the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
In the National League, there was no shortage of feel good stories to follow.
It was tough to see Atlanta manager Bobby Cox go out on a losing note, but it was awesome to watch every single San Francisco Giants’ player stand and cheer for Cox at the end of the game when the former Blue Jays manager got a final standing ovation from the Atlanta faithful.
The Giants themselves are another feel good story this year, if for no other reason than they are finally free of Barry Bonds.
And how can any Blue Jays fan out there not cheer for Philadelphia?
Former Jays ace Roy Halladay has been in this game a long time, and had never pitched in a post season game before this year.
He made the most of his first opportunity, throwing the first post season no hitter in almost six decades.
I will always cheer for Halladay, no matter what logo adorns the front of his jersey.
He was a class act from start to finish in Toronto, and for that, I hope “The Doc” is finally rewarded with that championship ring that has long eluded him.