Caught in the moment
It's easy to say the game you just watched is the greatest ever. Very easy. And it's done by people caught in the moment all over the country, seemingly on a weekly basis.
When something incredible happens, people rush to hyperbole, to make sure the moment is properly magnified. Thursday night was an example of this.
Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, played Thursday night in St. Louis, is going down as an instant classic. One of the most incredible games and extraordinary finishes the "fall classic" has ever seen. Some will have you believe, "it was the greatest World Series, possibly baseball, game ever played."
It was great, no doubt about it. The Cardinals, down to their last strike twice, rallied from two runs down, twice, and ended the game with a walk-off home run. David Freese, Game 6's hero, tripled in two runs to tie in the bottom of the ninth with two strikes and two outs. He wasn't done. He blasted the home run in the bottom of the 11th to send the series to a Game 7.
Was it the greatest World Series game ever, though? Twins fans might bring up the 1991 Series, where Kirby Puckett made a leaping catch at the wall and hit an 11th-inning home run in Game 6. The Twins followed that with Jack Morris throwing a 10-inning shutout to claim the title in Game 7.
Maybe it was Joe Carter blasting a home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 6 to win the 1993 World Series. If you go back further, maybe Game 6 and Carlton Fisk's 12th-inning home run in the 1975 World Series takes the cake. We all remember Kirk Gibson limping around the bases pumping his fists in 1988, albeit in Game 1. My point is it's impossible to call something surrounded with this much history the 'greatest ever.'
One of the greatest ever, certainly. That is the description I'm comfortable using. For Cardinal fans, maybe it was the greatest game ever (although they may be contingent on them winning Game 7). Each fan base has its own 'greatest game' ever, I'm sure. But for the general public, it's simply too hard to tell. Each magical game involves so many different elements that make it special, I feel as though we shouldn't compare them.
It makes for a good debate, though. That's what this comes down to more times than not - good sports talking points. We can all agree we were lucky to watch such a thrilling game on such a huge stage.
There will be a World Series champion by the time this column is printed, but the series is already going down in the history books. If Game 7 can somehow top Game 6, I may be willing to enter this 'greatest ever' debate again.
Until then, let's enjoy each classic game we're given without ranking it. We'll just put this year's near the top and call it good.
One final note - is it a coincidence that every 10 years we're getting a classic World Series? The Twins and Braves in 1991. The Diamondbacks and Yankees in 2001, and now the Rangers - Cardinals in 2011. All seven games. All classics.