Ben's Babbles: Last day of baseball playoff races simply awesome

October 1, 2011

That...was...Awe…some.

After watching the final day of the major league baseball season in which the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays erased huge gaps to make the playoff, those were the only words I could come up with.

Switching between four games on my satellite radio, iPhone and laptop, I had no rooting interest, but was absolutely captivated by the drama unfolding.

The Tampa Bay Rays entered the final week of the season pretty much needing a miracle to make the playoffs. They as many as they needed with a triple play against the New York Yankees in the penultimate game, then rallied from a 7-0 deficit to tie the final game with the Yankees in the ninth.

Meanwhile the Boston Red Sox, which at the beginning of September had a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs, just needed one out to ensure at the very least they would play an extra game to make it in. I'm not making that 99.6 percent up either; it's the actual figure from coolstandings.com, which calculates sports playoff chances.

I actually switched the Tampa Bay game off with them trailing 7-0 after a marketing executive visited the radio booth to promote tickets for a play-in game the next day.

Now that was starry-eyed optimism, I thought. Little did I know what was about to happen.

At 12:01 a.m. EST Robert Andino of the Baltimore Orioles blooped a single to left field and the Orioles rallied to beat the Red Sox with two runs with two out in the bottom of the ninth.

Four minutes later those 99.6 percent odds finished their nosedive to zero as Evan Longoria capped the Rays' rally with a line drive extra innings home run to send them to the playoffs.

Call it the return of the Goat, the revenge of Bill Buckner or just God playing favorites; the collapse was epic right through its gut-rending conclusion.

Finally, after seven long years all the Red Sox "fans" who had no idea their team existed before 2004 and think Sweet Caroline is the epitome of all musical thought, know the pain of the diehards who suffered heartbreak after heartbreak for nearly a hundred years.

A few hundred miles to the south, nearly ignored in the tidal wave of angst over the Boston collapse, the Atlanta Braves completed a nearly as impressive swoon, blowing a 9½-game lead at the start of September with a loss to Philadelphia.

St. Louis, the team which ran them down in September despite injuries to several key players, was the only team to actually let its fans not have a heart attack with a 7-0 two-hit shutout of the pitiful Houston Astros.

I don't feel sorry for the Red Sox or their fans; the Braves, on the other hand, I can't help but feel bad for.

"Even in epic collapses we finish last," one fan wrote on a sports blog Thursday morning.

It may have been a bad day to be a fan of the Red Sox and Braves, but not a bad day to be a sports fan.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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