Unless you’re a Red Sox or Braves fan (and even those fans would probably grudgingly admit this), last night was as good a baseball night as there’s been in years. The outcome of four games decided two down-to-the-wire playoff races…and three of those games either went into extra innings or were decided on the final pitch. In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals completed an amazing wild-card comeback over the Atlanta Braves by winning 8-0 themselves, then watching the Braves go down 4-3 to the Phillies in a tense 13-inning affair. In most other seasons, a collapse of this magnitude (the Braves were up 10.5 games on the Cardinals in late August) woulde be all anyone talked about.
However, this was this season. And over in the American league, not only did the Red Sox hold a sizable lead over the Tampa Bay Rays heading into September, they led the AL East outright. And then, they went 7-20. The Yankees ran away with the division, leaving the surging Rays and floundering Sox to fight it out for the wild card. Last night, it came to a head…with the Rays making a stunning comeback from a 7-0 deficit and the Red Sox blowing a lead against the Orioles in the bottom of the ninth.
And mere moments after the Red Sox completed their collapse, the Rays completed their amazing comeback and booked their improbable spot in the playoffs. And in doing so, as you can see above, they turned MLB Network analysts Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac into a couple of wide-eyed kids. Mind you, each of these guys played in the majors for years. They’ve seen a lot of baseball, and they still reacted like that. And on this night, even for guys paid to be impartial observers, that was just fine with us.