Incredible. Unbelievable. Mind blowing.
All of those adjectives describe what happened last night in the Rogers Centre. I was lucky enough to be there (in the 500’s of course), and I can say that it was the greatest game that I have ever been to in person. The atmosphere was electric right from the first pitch until the final out. Actually, the atmosphere was electric as early as 1 pm when I was sitting in Jack Astor’s having a few nerve-settling pints. Blue Jay gear was everywhere – it seemed like every single person in the downtown core had a jersey or a hat or a jacket or a hoodie. People were definitely jacked up for the game.
And what else can you say about the game itself? It had everything. There was amazing pitching by both Marcus Stroman and Cole Hamels. There were unbelievable defensive plays (Pillar! Donaldson!!) and terrible defensive plays (three awful Texas errors in a row in the fateful seventh). There was clutch hitting by all three of Toronto’s bombers, with Encarnacion delivering a game tying homer in the 6th, Donaldson delivering a game tying fielders choice in the 7th, then of course Bautista’s bomb. There was the most insane and unreal inning perhaps ever. And there was controversy. Lots and lots of controversy.
What happened in the top of the seventh inning was shameful. Yes the correct call was technically made: the ball was live and Odor scored. But that’s not the issue. The real problem is that the umpire called the ball dead on the field, effectively ending the play. Did you wonder why neither Donaldson nor Sanchez nor Martin made a move to get the ball and make a play? Because they were essentially told not to bother by the home plate umpire. I’m not saying they would have been in position to throw him out, but at least they could have had a shot. Instead they all stood there watching. A friend of mine made a fitting comparison this morning, saying that what happened was akin to a football player scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery after the officials have already blown the play dead. Defenders would not try to tackle the runner once the whistle blows, and no way would the touchdown be allowed to stand. Yet that is exactly what happened last night.
What made the play even worse, and really increased the level of anger in the stadium, was that nobody in attendance had any idea what was happening. There was no announcement as to why the call was reversed and why the run was able to stand. The ump simply pointed to home plate and that was that. Perhaps MLB should consider instituting what already exists in the NFL and NHL with replays, where referees announce to the entire stadium the reasoning behind any call. That might have helped a bit last night.
Obviously it didn’t matter in the end. The Jays stormed back for four in the bottom of the seventh, three on one of the most important and iconic home runs in the history of the franchise. Joe Carter’s walkoff is obviously the biggest HR in team history, and you can argue that Roberto Alomar’s ALCS shot off of Eckersley or Ed Sprague’s bomb off of Jeff Reardon were more important, but that’s it. Bautista was already one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time – last night simply cemented his legacy further.
The stadium reaction to both Bautista’s and EE’s home runs was the loudest I have ever heard. The place simply exploded.
I woke up today with sore hands from clapping, sore legs from jumping up and down and hugging strangers, and a sore throat and non-existent voice from yelling.
And I will gladly do it all again starting tomorrow.
Bring on KC.