by Mia M. Jackson
Mark McGwire stood next to Tony LaRussa plotting what turned out to be the winning strategy for Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Ron Washington stood, arms folded on the fence praying for two winning outs that didn’t happen. I love these Rangers – but I love good baseball more. Watching them take on the never-say-die St. Louis Cardinals tonight, I went back to 1989 when the Mac & Tony were paired on the Oakland A’s team for the Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. They won that time in a 4-game sweep, LaRussa as manager and Mark as one of the hot bats in the lineup. The drama for that series happened in a much different way – Mother Nature rocked the Bay with an earthquake that devastated Northern California cities. Jack Buck was a radio announcer. I was 9 months pregnant and my daughter was born in the middle of the extended dates contest.
I haven’t felt this excited about the game of baseball in the 22 years since. Tonight, I couldn’t move. I cursed. I screamed. I exhaled and released. I almost expected McGwire’s big bat to resurface and in a way, it did. These hitters have learned from Big Mac. The game almost sounded the same. Joe Buck channeled the winning call of his father and commanded our attention with his similarly smooth style I’ve grown to love. The seesaw leads, steamy bats and childlike enthusiasm of both teams kept the nation enthralled. I didn’t want it to end. But it did with the David Freese home run in front of his home town in extra innings. That’s how baseball go.
Watching the nervous Ron Washington and the determined LaRussa, I couldn’t have scripted a better night game. I like seeing this white-haired Mark McGwire still in the game – and I remember the Mac I want to remember, from those A’s days on deck, not on Capitol Hill. All of this is why I love the game. I will be ready Friday night with them.
The drama for Thursday night’s series was all on the field. The incredible bats and balls bounced for the fans; folks were transfixed across the globe. THIS is how baseball is supposed to feel!