It takes something pretty amazing for people to say they've 'never seen that before' in Major League Baseball. Considering the league is over 135 years old, and each team plays 162 games (or 154 back in the day), there's not much that hasn't been seen.
With that being said, and if you care about the historical aspect of MLB, I hope you were watching Wednesday night when the Red Sox and Rays were both in a win-and-keep-playing game to determine the last spot in the playoffs.
The Red Sox, in the midst of what would be the biggest September collapse in Major League history, were up one run to the Orioles when a rain delay set in during the latter innings. At the same time, the Tampa Bay Rays were climbing out of a 7-0 hole to the Yankees. The Rays were down to their last strike, and trailing by a run, when Dan Johnson (who was hitting .108 at the time) blasted a solo shot to tie the game and give the Rays new life.
As the Rays and Yankees plowed into extra innings, the Red Sox were back on the field trying to handle their own business, which is something that eluded them the entire month of September.
Up 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon struck out the first two batters. Then came a double. Then another double. Tie game. At that point, you knew it was over, and sure enough it was after Robert Andino singled to left and drove in the winning run. The Red Sox dropped to 7-20 in September and would now have to hope the Rays lost to force a 1-game playoff.
They wouldn't have to wait long. No more than five minutes later, Rays 3B Evan Longoria ripped a line-drive home run in the bottom of the 12th that just snuck over the left field corner fence. Hello, Rays in the playoffs, and hello biggest September collapse in Major League history for the massive payroll of the Boston Red Sox. The Rays trailed the Red Sox by nine games on Sept. 3. The turn of events, and clutch home runs by the Rays Wednesday night, was something many believe hadn't been seen before. The excitement was something MLB desperately needed, and they got it on the last moments of the 2011 regular season.
Money can't always buy championships. Sure, it has plenty of times before and helps a lot, but Boston didn't spend effectively this season. Boston put all its money into hitters and forgot about the most crucial aspect of a team, the pitching staff.
It's a pitcher that can stop a horrendous skid in Sept. It's pitching that can get you a few more wins along the way during the season. Boston forgot about those things and it bit them in the backside. John Lackey and Tim Wakefield, while I respect their careers, cost Boston too many victories through out the year. The aces, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, needed to be the ones to stop the collapse in Sept. and that didn't happen.
Terry Francona is already on his way out as Boston manager. It's not all his fault, but as a manager, he's going to take at least some of the blame. It's unfortunate when a team with that much potential can't live up to its expectations, and even more so when it happens the way it did.
Hopefully the playoffs, which started Friday, will provide the intensity and excitement the last day of the regular season did. I know I'll be watching to see if it can. And if there's any stage for it, it's the Fall Classic.
World Series prediction: Phillies over Yankees.